Feline obesity: risky but not difficult to control

Dr. Jeff NicholIf left to fend for themselves in the wild our cats would survive by stalking and devouring prey, displaying their prowess with an athletic build and the heads of trophy rats they’ve bagged mounted above their fireplaces. Our pet kitties, on the other hand, park their derrieres on the couch and munch fast-food for felines. The results are often not pretty. It’s estimated that over 35% of pet cats are overweight or obese raising their risk of diabetes, joint damage, skin disorders and fatty liver disease. Too corpulent and uncomfortable to run, climb and jump, fat cats live stunted lives. Quoting the late, great Joan Rivers: “Can we talk?”

The World Health Organization’s definition of obesity, “an excess of body fat that has negative effects upon health,” also applies to our kitties. Any cat can pack on the pork but middle-aged neutered males win the big prize. Sterilization, so important for population control, is a major factor for both sexes because it triggers increased hunger. Research suggests reducing calorie intake by 30% after spayed or neutered cats reach adult size.

Indoor cats with freely available dry food tend to kick back and snack if their homes are not rodent infested. Cat parent denial is another factor. We have to admit that our well-loved kitty’s girth is dangerously expanding. It’s a rare cat who is truly big boned, bless their hearts.

The type of food matters. Cats fed canned diets have more easily satisfied appetites. Eating multiple small meals also contributes to a healthy weight. Food-dispensing toys and puzzles can help make that happen. Controlling our cats’ weight relies on human discipline; most cats don’t go for takeout or order Grubhub delivery.

Take charge where you can. By measuring canned food (kitten food has more protein and less carbs) into food toys and puzzles your work-from-home feline predator will engage mentally and physically for her survival by doing whatever it takes to extract her sustenance. Beating up on a food toy is actually pretty good exercise. Let’s be real. Most cats don’t help pay the rent; the least they can do is work on their physiques.

Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery. NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

 

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Fear and pain are real, but are not a ...
Fetch!
Sometimes, we just have to have ... Sometimes, we just have to have faith that things will work out
2
'No Name,' later dubbed 'Faith' had close call on ...
Fetch!
Editor's note: This is the second ... Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series The injured homeless cat, we later named Faith, had already became special to us. ...
3
Badly injured homeless kitty got care, brought faith
Fetch!
Faith was important not just because ... Faith was important not just because we loved her but because she taught important lessons. She has ...
4
'Back to normal' boosts pandemic pup costs
Fetch!
Some 23 million US households have ... Some 23 million US households have acquired a pet
5
Dazzling dog destination
Fetch!
New pet resort will treat your ... New pet resort will treat your pup like royalty
6
Study: Pets can catch COVID from their people
Fetch!
We can help protect them by ... We can help protect them by getting vaccinated ourselves
7
Free music returns to the Plaza, other venues
Entertainment
AMP Concerts' series opens this week ... AMP Concerts' series opens this week in Santa Fe
8
Keeping our fur kids calm on the Fourth
Fetch!
Prescription Sileo gel works well, with ... Prescription Sileo gel works well, with no sedation or side-effects
9
Healing trauma and feline politics
Fetch!
A reliable plan helped heal the ... A reliable plan helped heal the rift between a resident cat and a pair of kittens recovering from injuries