Cat Care – Handling an Overweight Cat

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,985
    Dr. Candy Olson, owner of Greenbriar Animal Hospital discusses how to handle an overweight cat.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi, I am Dr Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. We are shooting a video on Tips for how to care of your cat at home. This particular section is some tips on what to do if your cat is overweight. Now, one of the problems with this is peoples definition of overweight changes a little bit, but if your veterinarian insist that your cat is overweight, or is starting to gain weight and it's going up and up, something to take seriously. One of the issues that we find with cats is particularly overtime is it its really rare, really rare to see an overweight cat, thats more than eleven years old, because they dont live that long, and your normal cats, well taken care of indoor cats, typical life-expectancy is 14-18. So, if your cat is overweight, overtime, huge risk increase for all kinds of problems, and it's difficult to put a cat on the diet, because, they dont exercise. We kind of went over a few tips in doing that earlier, but you can encourage a little bit of exercise, but we are talking about maybe making a difference of 5 or 10%, nothing like what you really need to help burn calories off. So, it's always best to be a little proactive. If your cats gaining weight a little bit each year, you want to talk to your veterinarian about things that can be done to help with that. Part of it is food, and there's a lot that you can do with the food, especially when you compare wet foods with dry foods.

    Wet food doesnt have anywhere near as many calories as the dry food does, particularly, if you are talking about a diet wet food. These cans for example, this is say a prescription food thats one of many that are available for cats that are overweight, it's yummy, it's low calorie, and it's good for them. This can has the same number of calories as this little half a cup of the dry food, which if you pour it out on the table, okay, thats not bad, but this is also special diet, dry food. If you compare that same amount to how much of a regular dry, you are talking about a couple of spoonfuls, about this much dry food. Now, that might not be bad for a cat for a snack, but if its that a whole days worth calories, your cat is going to keep bugging you for more food. So, the advantage of doing some of the dry food, and some of the wet food is that your cat is liable to be more satisfied in getting fewer calories. The other thing that really helps, is to this particular type of food, for example, is a prescription food that is made to help cats keep their teeth and gums healthy, and as a terrific side-benefit, it's yummy, and low in calories. It's almost as low in calories as this special Restricted Calorie Diet Dry Food. So, it's an excellent choice, because, if you compare these, if we throw this stuff back in this cup for example, this is by the way, one, eight ounce measuring cup of the dry food. These four cans and the cat could possibly eat a can-and-a-half if they were really pigged out in a day. These four cans are the same calories as this one cup of regular food, or as these two big bowls, which are two cups of the special dry food. So, just kind of think, which would you rather have if you were a cat? More volume. The other things that you can do if you have, your cats are overweight, is you want to measure the food, and by measure, if your cat is overweight, this is way too much food. You want to have a quarter cup measure, at the most, a half cup measure. Most overweight cats should be getting between a quarter and a half-a-cup of dry food a day, plus the wet food. Now, we are talking about if thats a regular food, or a slightly restricted food, and sometimes, you have to go down to a quarter cup of the special stuff to get them to loose weight. Cats are like people, their metabolism is really different. There are some other things that you can do to help with this, and some of that is to rather than leave food out for them to munch on, is to feed in meals. Put a small amount of food out twice a day, and when it's gone, it's gone. If you have more than one cat, even if they are both overweight, you do need to separate them, to feed them, because, they will go back and forth and swipe out at each others food, and you have no way to figure out whos eating what. Thats one of the other advantages for feeding some wet food, because, most cats when you give them wet food, will run over and eat it down right away and so, if you've got several cats, you can use that opportunity, theyll say this cat is just getting wet food this meal, so, he runs over and eats that, and slips the other one whos not overweight, some of the dry. Separate them out. You want to make sure that if you are giving them wet food, that you are giving it to them in the afternoon or the evening, and not first thing in the morning, because cats really like wet food, and they tend to pass to you for it. And the trouble is with cats is, you have to feed them an amount that they are happy with. Thats where the issue of the lower calorie foods will really helps. You can't start decide one day, oh! I am only going to give my cat half as much food. You'll never get another wink of sleep. So, it's important to work within these parameters. The other thing thats really critical for overweight cats is that you have to make sure that they like the food. They must love it, its diet food, but they do have to be willing to eat it, because, cats will make themselves sick. If you give them a food that they dont like and they dont have an alternate option, they will literally starve themselves. If they are overweight to begin with, there's a whole medical condition. They can actually throw themselves into liver failure by not eating for several days in a row. So, you want to leave a little bit of the regular food out, and then in another bowl, some of the new stuff. So, those are some of the tips of things that you can do for your overweight cat. Next section, we are going to cover cats and heartworm disease and some parasites.