Question: My cat, Tubby, seems to have gained a lot of weight recently. Can you please advise me on how to manage an ideal weight and provide some general information regarding feline obesity?
Answer: An important part of a happy and healthy lifestyle for a cat is their weight. Your vet can tell you if your cat’s weight is a problem.
Generally, cats with 20 per cent or more of body fat are considered severely overweight.
Aside from their full-figured appearances, overweight cats may also be noticeably lethargic, suffer from frequent urinary tract infections and show signs of declining health.
Obesity can take its toll on the cat’s pancreas, liver, kidneys, urinary tract and skeletal system.
This can result in all kinds of health disorders, including feline fatty liver syndrome, non-allergic skin conditions, diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease, high blood pressure and compromised immune function.
The negative effects of feline obesity can accumulate over time in a cat’s body and prevention is the best way to avoid medical issues.
Work with your veterinarian in order to determine your pet’s caloric requirements, select a suitable food and calculate how much to feed.
The diet should contain a normal level of a moderately fermentable fibre and the type of fat that prevents the skin and coat from deteriorating during weight loss.
Diets that dilute calories with high fibre lead to increased stool volumes, frequent urges to defecate and variable decreases in nutrient digestibility.
Treats should also be chosen wisely, where high-carbohydrate and high-calorie treats must be avoided.
Dry cat foods can be high in calories, with 400 or more calories per cup, making it very easy to overfeed a cat unknowingly. The majority of the cases of obesity in cats are related to simple overfeeding coupled with lack of exercise.
Increasing physical activity can be a valuable contributor to both weight loss and maintenance. An interactive game of chasing a feathered toy increases bonding between you and your cat and will help to keep them healthy, or provide interactive toys to get your cat moving for at least 20 minutes each day.
You may be able to set up an area where your cat can romp around and climb. Cat trees and scratching posts are also ideal for this kind of activity. You could also get a cat jungle gym from your local pet shop or online.
Regular exercise burns more calories, reduces appetite, helps to maintain muscle and joint health, changes body composition and will increase your pet’s resting metabolic rate.
It is true that some cats are just more naturally active that others but an overweight cat has no choice.
A successful weight management programme requires permanent changes to your cat’s lifestyle and includes a controlled diet and regular exercise.
l Dr Hansel is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA and Charis Vets. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
BSPCA’S DOG OF THE WEEK IS LUCY
Breed: Mixed breed
Age: Eight months
Lucy is an adorable and very quiet girl. She is very shy and has a very warm nature that makes her incredibly lovable. The sad look she always has makes you simply want to hold her tight and tell her that everything will be alright. You can immediately sense her silent relief and excitement when she realises that you bring her love and wish her no harm. Lucy is so soft and friendly that it would simply be a blessing if someone were to welcome her into their home with loving and open arms. Lucy is neutered, tick-treated and is fully vaccinated.
BSPCA’S CAT OF THE WEEK IS BART
Age: Two years and eight months
Bart is a lovely cat that was domesticated and then unfortunately abandoned and left to fend for himself along with his sister Lisa. Sadly, he tends to be overlooked by our visitors a lot of the time due to his common street cat appearance. This poor little guy has been at the shelter for almost a year now and deserves to be given a chance to prove his worth in a good home. Bart enjoys sampling various types of home-cooked food, in addition to his cat food, and is the perfect food-taster when he isn’t spending most of his time snoozing. Bart is neutered and fully vaccinated.
l If you are interested in adopting Lucy, Bart or any of our other cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, please visit the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. From the Alba roundabout take the road sign posted Askar and Durrat Al Bahrain and at the third signal, take a right on to the truck road and after approximately 800m you will see the shelter on the right side, just before the flyover. Or, log onto the website www.bspca.org for directions. The shelter is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 9am to 1pm on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays. We accept animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.