Obesity in pets is very common and can cause many health problems. So what can you do when you own a fat cat? Here are some tips to get your cat mobile and slim.
Obesity is a really common problem in pets. So much so, that most veterinary surgeries and here at Pet Nursing offer “weight clinics” which is usually run by veterinary nurses who are dedicated to helping owners with diet plans and nutritional advice. But what can you really do about a cat who only seems to want to sleep and eat all day long?
Resisting those little calls from the kitchen. Your cat sits by the food bowl, eyes wide, looking at you longingly for a bowl refill. It’s hard, right?! But you will benefit them in so many ways if you keep their weight in check.
Firstly, overweight animals can suffer many health problems. Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis are just to name a few that can be caused or exasperated by obesity. This, in turn, can decrease their life expectancy, create many veterinary visits and facilitate the need for long term medication which can be quite difficult to administer to a resistant cat with sharp claws and teeth!
We all know most cats like to sleep and sleeping 23 out of 24 hours a day isn’t actually that abnormal! Cats have a particularly relaxed outlook on life for the most part. Who wouldn’t want to return to this earth as a cat in their next life?
The trouble with this sedentary lifestyle, is that is creates a vicious cycle of increasing weight. Your cat eats, sleeps and then eats again and whilst their bellies grow, their mobility decreases. Extra pressure is placed upon their joints which will make them want to move even less.
So, what can you do about Feline Obesity?
Firstly, you need to decrease the calorific intake your pet receives, just like you would if you were to diet yourself. There are many great, high quality, diet foods on the market for pets and your local veterinary nurses will be able to help advise you about the best ones and work out a plan with you to decrease your pets weight within a reasonable time and at a safe amount. The foods are usually high in fibre which will help make your cat feel full, so that they aren’t feeling hungry all the time.
Your local Veterinary Nurses will be full of knowledge about the latest diet food on offer and attending a weight clinic with your pet is a really great place to start.
Once you have a diet plan in place, what about exercise? When you own a dog, the answer is easy…. More walks! Longer Walks! Games of Fetch! I don’t know of many cats who would relish the idea of being taken out on a lead (although I am sure there are some!).
Here are some ideas to get your cat moving:
- If they enjoy playtime, a box with holes and a pencil can create hours of fun. Poke the pencil through the holes at random and allow the cat to “catch” it inside. Inexpensive but effective.
- Catnip toy on a long string. Throw the toy as far as you can and slowly tug the string whilst the cat chases it. The attraction of the catnip smell will increase the attraction to this game. You can sit down whilst playing this game too, so it’s great for an evening!
- Box maze. Different sized boxes with cat sized holes cut throughout can create hours of fun. You can place catnip toys or biscuits from their diet dinner in the boxes for them to find. Again, this is an inexpensive method and the “maze” can be altered when the cat gets bored.
- What can you do if your cat doesn’t enjoy playtime? Get them to “search” for their dinner. For a cat who is unwilling to play, you can use food as a useful reward for exercise. Start with a tray and scatter their biscuit dinner over it (if you are feeding wet you can use little plates or bowls around the kitchen to avoid mess). The cat will move to eat. You can increase the space you scatter once they get used to it and on nice days, why not feed them outside and allow them to move about whilst “hunting” for more dinner? Keep attempting to play games with them. You might find that as their weight decreases, their energy levels will rise and they will become more playful and active.