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How to Keep Your Cat from Getting Fat

Obese Cat Outside
Veterinary Strategies for Weight Control

You may not even realize that your cat weighs more than is advisable for his breed and age. Your veterinarian will weigh him during annual health evaluations to determine whether he is at risk for obesity. Your cat may need dietary or lifestyle changes, ranging from prescription diets to a regular exercise regimen. If you suspect that your cat has a weight problem, contact your veterinarian today to schedule a consultation and evaluation.

A fat cat may appear happy and provide visitors with a source of amusement, but feline obesity is certainly no laughing matter. Cats who carry excess weight have a heightened risk for diabetes, cancer, liver problems, degenerative joint pain and other conditions that could severely curtail its quality of life. Recent studies discovered that more than half of all dogs and cats are diagnosed as either overweight or obese by their veterinarians. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to keep your feline from getting fat.

The most obvious reason for feline obesity is the ingestion of more daily calories than a cat can burn off through activity or normal metabolic processes -- the same basic issue faced by so many overweight humans. If your cat is encased in a thick layer of fur, you may have trouble telling whether he is overweight. You should feel deeply with your hands to see if you can feel ribs, spine or hip bones. You can also compare your cat to the body condition charts developed by Purina diets that are used by all veterinarians. If your cat is too heavy, do some serious thinking about your cat's eating habits and activity level.

Weight Control Tips and Tricks

The main tip for keeping your cat at a good weight, or getting your overweight cat to lose weight, is to feed them only canned food. In order for manufacturers to make a food dry, they have to add a lot of carbohydrate to the ration. It is believed that cats need more of an Atkins-type diet, high in protein and low in carbohydrate. It should be a good quality food, balanced with the right proportion of protein, fats, etc, and formulated according to AAFCO guidelines. You should look for this statement in the fine print on the can.

Since calories that go unburned will only turn to fat, you may need to get your sedentary cat moving if you wish to keep him from getting heavy. Try playing games with him, or get him a canine or feline playmate who will keep him on his toes. Senior pets are at a disadvantage due to their slower metabolism, especially if they cannot move as freely or comfortably as they once did. For these animals, dietary reductions and modifications, coupled with supplements such as glucosamine or omega-3 fatty acids to ease joint problems, may prove helpful.

Changing a cat's eating habits may require changes in his owner's behavior as well. Veterinarians urge owners to reduce the number of treats and remove their cats from the dining room during human mealtimes.

Sources:

ASPCA,“Overweight Cats.“

Levs, Josh. “Obesity Epidemic Strikes U.S. Pets.“ CNN, 2012.  

American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA Diabetes Management Guidelines

Kealy, et. al. “Effects of Diet Restriction on Life Span and Age-Related Changes in Dogs.“ JAVMA 2002; 220:1315-1320

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  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

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    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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