January 6, 2014 Updated: January 6, 2014 at 10:05 am
Dear Ms. Kitty,
I admit to giving my cat, Sylvester, too many kitty treats during the past couple of weeks. But it seemed so unfair to limit him with everyone else eating such yummy holiday foods. How do I know if he gained too much weight? He's always been on the heavier side, so it's hard to tell.
While I doubt you did any damage by allowing Sylvester to overindulge a little during the holidays, it is a good idea to watch your kitty's weight year-round. If you run your hands firmly down his sides, can you feel his rib cage?
As little as 2 pounds above your cat's ideal weight can put him at risk for developing some serious medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. It also creates difficulty in grooming and hygiene and adds stress. Plus, the older Sylvester gets, the more important it will be to keep any extra bulk off.
Pet obesity in cats and dogs is all too common today. Cat guardians generally feed and treat too often, and many cats aren't given the proper amount of activity. A trip to your veterinarian for a well-kitty exam and some basic blood work is a smart step.
According to guidelines on various veterinarian websites, the average domestic cat should weigh between 9 pounds and 12 pounds. But ideal weight will change depending on age, body type (large or small breed), activity level and overall health.
Your vet can help determine the correct amount of food for your cat, but a good rule of thumb is that any type of treats should not exceed 10 percent of a cat's total daily caloric requirement.
Cats are obligate carnivores, and they must receive important components such as protein, fat and vitamin A from animal/meat sources. Cats that are eating only common brands of dry food likely are getting too many carbohydrates in their diet. Additionally, free-feeding undetermined amounts of dry kibble every day is sure to lead to weight gain.
The high-carb content in typical dry food could alter a cat's blood sugar, which could lead to obesity. Supplementing a dry kibble-only diet with a daily, small amount of wet food will satisfy your cat's hunger more quickly due to the protein and fat provided.
If your vet recommends that Sylvester go on a diet, remember to introduce a lower-calorie kibble to his feeding routine gradually over a week or so to give him time to adjust. A drastic reduction in calories can result in hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening condition that affects the liver. Start by adding a quarter of the diet food to his regular food and then increase the proportion of diet food slowly over seven to 10 days. If your cat turns his nose up at the new food, try adding a few drops of fish oil.
Daily exercise is important as well. Interactive playtime can be fun for your cat and for you, too!
Do you have question? Email AskingMsKitty@gmail.com and your question might be featured. Albertson co-manages Happy Cats Haven at 1412 S. 21st St. Learn more at happy catshaven.org or call 635-5000.