Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | December 27, 2006

Fat Cat?

Dear Pet Column,

 I am writing about a pet column I read before Thanksgiving that was in response to a dog owner concerned about his dog getting a little porky during the Holidays.  The column was helpful and has led me to wonder if my cat is overweight.  She is not very active and she sure does love to eat. So, how chunky is too chunky?

 Sincerely, Concerned for Chunky Cat

 Dear Concerned,

 As a cat myself (I go by the name of Gretel) with a healthy figure I volunteered to answer this week’s pet column letter.  We cats have the luxury of not caring about fitting into our jeans, and if we pack on a few Holiday pounds you will not find us making “slimming” New Year resolutions.  We do however, need our guardians to make our resolutions for us sometimes…

 Like people, weight issues with pets can be complicated and resulting from various factors such as breed, body type, environment, and heredity issues – but you, as a cat guardian, still need to help us manage these contributing factors.  Generally cats prefer to have a bit of a cushion to help keep warm in the winter months.  However, if our guardians let us overdo the Holiday treats and napping by the fire, the resulting extra weight is not so enjoyable.  As cats are naturally quite athletic, spry, and nimble creatures, you restrict us from this ease of movement when allowing us to become too heavy.  I say “you” in the pet guardian sense in that “you” are truly responsible for our health, our weight, and our happiness when you bring us into your home, as we are now your dependent. 

 I would like to outline the current medical concerns relative to portly pets.  Obesity in cats (and in dogs) involves a direct increase in risk for heart and lung problems, diabetes, allergies, and arthritis.  Heftiness can also contribute to increased risks and complications if your pet ever has to be anesthetized for surgery.  Also, excess pudge can lead to skin problems and of course slow your pet down, which makes weight maintenance more challenging.

 The ideal weight of your pet is best judged by your pet’s Veterinarian, however a few basic guidelines exist that are useful for general assessment.  For cats there is a rather easy visual test which involves observing your cat for a sagging and swinging belly.  Like humans, sagging and swinging midlines are not a good thing….

 With dogs and cats you can try feeling the rib cage – this is easier to assess on dogs – but if you can not feel your pet’s rib cage, again, not a good thing (while actually seeing the rib cage is equally not good).

 As is often the case, prevention is the best approach.  Feed your pet as recommended by your Vet, avoid too many treats, and keep your pet active, making daily time for play and exercise.  Cut back at feeding time if your pet is becoming lard-laden, although not to the point where your cat will suffer nutritionally or not feel satisfied.  Rather, consider a diet with high-fiber and low-fat that allows your cat to consume the same amount but with fewer calories.  Feeding a higher quality pet food is advantageous as the lower quality ones can often have excess fillers that your pet does not need (like cheap fast food as compared to a nutritious home cooked meal).

 Another recommendation I would make, as I am not, as yet, a fully trained veterinarian, is to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as weight issues can be caused by other medical issues and this should be ruled out. 

 In closing, I want to clarify that just because I am responding to your inquiry on pet obesity does not mean that I am obese.  I am a healthy figured girl awaiting a forever home where I can burn calorie after calorie purring and rubbing my soft face across your hands to show you how much you are appreciated every day.  I am simply a lovely young Blue Persian female awaiting my soulmate or family.  Please pass the caviar, I mean word.

 SCHS offers animal humane services to San Miguel and Ouray Counties.  Contact Kelly at 626-2273 x4 for more information on volunteer, foster, and community education programs.  For information about adopting, reporting a lost pet, the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance & Rebate Program, or other pet questions, call 626-2273 x1 (SCHS Animal Hotline). For more information on SCHS and to visit our shelter pets online go to: www.secondchancehumanesociety.org.

 Pet Questions for next week’s column can be sent to:  vol-ed@secondchancehumanesociety.org

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