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fat cats

Tips to prevent a fat cat.

The term “fat cat” takes on a serious medical connotation, based on a new nationwide nutritional study on felines. The second annual National Pet Obesity Day Study reports that nearly 18 percent of all household cats toss their weight around into the obesity range. A cat must exceed 30 percent of his ideal weight to be identified as obese.

“ Pet obesity continues to emerge as a leading cause of preventable disease and death in cats,” says Ernie Ward, DVM, a veterinarian and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. “Not only have we become a nation of couch potatoes, but our pets have become a nation of lap potatoes – and that’s not good for anyone.”
Consider these starting statistics: About 15.7 million cats – or roughly the population of Illinois – are obese. Another 35 million cats – or about the combine populations of New York and Pennsylvania – are overweight.
“ Extra pounds in older pets amplify any pre-existing conditions and complicate treatment,” says Dr. Ward. “As veterinarians, we’re seeing more and more cats with diabetes, respiratory and arthritic conditions as a direct result of obesity. These are often chronic, incurable and generally preventable diseases.”
As editor of Catnip, a national monthly publication affiliated with Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, my goal is to educate people on how to keep their feline friends at their healthy best.
Here are five tips to help you keep your cat fit and at his ideal weight:

(1) Help your cat slim down smartly by taking a “before” photo of her and put this photo in a visible place such as on your refrigerator door. Start a food diary and weigh your cat once every week.

(2) Opt for scheduled feedings instead of free feeding. Instead of filling up your cat’s bowl whenever it is empty, use a measuring cup and portion out your cat’s daily meals twice a day. If you are unable to be home at a specific mealtime, consider buying a timed self-feeder that can dispense controlled portions of kibble at designated times.

(3) Work with your veterinarian on slowly decreasing your cat’s daily food portions. Don’t cut back too quickly. In cats, the dangers of “crash dieting” can lead to hepatic lipidosis, more commonly known as fatty liver disease.

(4) Set realistic weight-loss goals. It’s best for a cat to lose only a few ounces per week so that the excess weight comes off gradually and doesn’t return.

(5) Encourage your cat to play and move around more each day. Try putting a low-calorie treat like shaved bonito fish flakes at the top of the stairs when your cat is at the bottom of the stairs. Show him the treat and call him up. Drag a toy on a string for him to chase. In other words, step up daily feline aerobics so your cat doesn’t spend her entire day napping and not moving.

For more info: For more information on how you can combat obesity in your cat, visit the
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention website.

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