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Vet Speak: How to scale back if your cat suffers problem of obesity

By Alison Laurie-Chalmers

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Your vet can advise how to get your cat healthier and slimmer.
Your vet can advise how to get your cat healthier and slimmer.

Tatoe was a rather large, Ginger, neutered Tom cat, a regular visitor as he was far too overweight.

Pet obesity is on the rise generally, particularly so during the past few years since Covid.

Obesity in cats sadly brings with it some increased risks of ill health and a poorer quality of life. Currently a staggering one in three cats is considered now to be overweight, and the problem of pet obesity can only get worse, unless we deal with it now.

We can all make a big difference to our beloved pets, if their weight is carefully and regularly monitored, and their daily diet carefully and correctly controlled lifelong.

Obesity in cats can be extremely detrimental to their health and can result in serious health conditions, including diabetes; feline lower urinary tract disease; joint disease; fatty liver disease: hepatic lipidosis; exercise intolerance and respiratory disease.

Worryingly, any overweight cats are twice as likely to develop diabetes, and they are eight times more likely to develop this if they are considered to be clinically obese.

Cats are carnivores, in the wild they would have had to work and hunt to catch their own prey, and rarely would you have ever seen an overweight feline in the wild.

Now that we provide them with such easy lives with all their meals provided, a lean, toned cat is fast becoming the minority. Concerningly, it is estimated that around over 53 per cent of cats are now overweight or obese in the UK.

Your vet practice can advise and support owners on their journey towards achieving a slimmer and healthier pet.

Nurse weight clinics can provide professional advice on their diet and on working out healthy, weight loss plans, as we all appreciate dieting is never an easy task.

Your pet’s diet and daily energy requirements can be carefully worked out, dependent on their age, stage, and lifestyle.

An initial dietary weight loss plan for your individual pet can then be set up and worked on.

To make life simpler, there are also excellent “weight loss,” complete diets now available. These are professionally researched, satisfying, complete nutrition diets, which are carefully formulated to provide all the necessary daily nutrients required, but with a lower calorie content. You can get advice on how much to feed of these diets, and on what foods to stop and avoid.

Some of the “treats” available for pet cats are a staggering over 22 per cent fat content! So, sensibly avoid all those extra “treats” and also have a chat with the “treat” givers!

Once a diet food is advised on for your pet, then specific amounts will be given to feed in grammes per day, to try to work towards achieving an ideal “target weight” for your pet. Do carefully weigh your pet’s food out each day, on an accurate electronic gram kitchen scale, and, if possible, weigh your cat regularly and keep your own record of this weight. After a month, their daily food amounts will be advised on, and adjusted if required, depending on that recorded weight.

If you are strict, and you do comply with the advised feeding guidelines given, then gradually, you should begin to see some positive results in your trimmer pet. Which in turn will be a big positive for your happier and healthier cat looking forward.

This is the last Vet Speak column. It has been a pleasure and hopefully you have found them useful and informative.

Alison Laurie-Chalmers is a senior consultant at Crown Vets.

This will be Alison's last Vet Speak. We are grateful for her contributions over several years.

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