How to "Thin" a Cat (or Human?)Published April 29, 2008
I've been on a diet. Actually, it's more of a lifestyle change, re-learning how to eat properly, exercise and generally take better care of myself. During this time I often wished there was a complete and balanced "People Chow" to make my life easier! Sadly, despite having terrific foods ready to drop into the bowl for our pets, surveys indicate that roughly 40 percent of cats, older than five years are overweight. Several factors influence whether pets carry increased poundage. But the same reason that I gained weight holds true for kitties as well: over-eating and under-exercising. I'm fortunate that Seren remains a svelte seven pounds and has never had a weight problem. Just as some people remain naturally lean while others gain weight if a potato-chip walks by (that's me!), different cats gain and maintain weight differently. But it doesn't take much to pudge up a cat--For a ten-pound cat, an extra pound or two is the equivalent of a human gaining 25 pounds. Obesity, defined as weight that exceeds the ideal by 20 to 25 percent, has serious health risks. Obese pets are more prone to diabetes, cancer, skin diseases, heart problems, and lameness due to arthritis. Overweight cats are also at risk for life threatening "fatty liver disease" (hepatic lipidosis). But a crash diet can be very dangerous, too, so any weight loss program should be approved by your vet. Usually the target is to lose about 1 to 1½ percent of starting weight per week. If you have a weighty problem with your felines, you must be more diligent about limiting intake. Keep in mind that commercial "lite" pet foods provide 10 percent fewer calories than that same brand's regular food, and may actually have MORE calories than a competitor's regular food. Meal feed with portion control instead of keeping the bowl full. And encourage exercise by making your plump puss work for her food. Set the bowl on top of the cat tree or head of the stairs so she must climb or leap up to get fed. Invest in some treat balls that can hold dry kibble, so she must "hunt" and move the toy to shake out and eat one of her meals each day. Break out the cat toys, fishing pole lures and flashlight beams for chase games and get that tiger-in-your-cat roaring to go! A 14-year study by Nestle Purina PetCare Company proved that keeping d*gs lean extends their lifespan by 15 percent--nearly two years for the dogs in the study. Lean cats also live longer. (include link to other food/diet articles) I suspect the same is true for people, even if we don't benefit from People Chow. And yes, I dropped slightly over 40 pounds this past year, in part due to running to keep up with the Magical-dog and out-think the Serendipity kitty. This picture was emailed to me several years ago and sadly, it's no laughing matter. Is your cat a lean, mean purring machine? Or does she pack extra pounds?
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