But it’s such an important topic (dare we say, especially around the holidays?) we felt it was worth discussing.
|Dr. Eberhardy with one of his patients|
This, as they say, is epidemic.
So we went to Dr. Eberhardy of Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital to get the 4-1-1 on it.
Dr. E: “Obesity is a big issue, mainly because it causes a cascade of other health problems such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, arthritis. Even urinary tract infections have been tied to some degree to obesity.”
In addition, of course, there are issues with mobility and even self-cleaning if the pet becomes too heavy. Dr. E told us that, in an effort to understand this phenomenon – especially the huge jump in feline obesity – researchers examined cats' eating habits.
|Outdoor cats via Creative Commons|
So then they calculated the average number of calories in a mouse. (In case you’re wondering, your average field mouse is about 30-35 calories). To get that daily calorie intake, an outdoor cat would need to hunt, catch and then eat between 7 and 8 mice per day. That’s a lot of running around.
Compare that to the indoor cat who needs to do nothing more than saunter up to the food bowl and plant his face into a bottomless mountain of kibble.
The simple fact is that most indoor cats live a sedentary lifestyle.
So what can you do about it? Dr. E says it’s a very simple calculation of calories in vs. calories out. And growing a thick skin when it comes to those pitiful, pleading looks of 'starvation' directed your way. But if you plan to embark on a weight-loss plan for a seriously overweight cat, please consult your veterinarian first.
Weight loss in cats can be deadly, due to a condition called hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. With cats, it’s critical that the weight come off slowly, in a carefully managed way. You can read more about why this is so important in our post on fatty liver disease from earlier this year.
Dr. E suggests playtime. Interactive toys such as Neko Flies and Da Bird mimic actual prey in a way cats find fascinating. In fact, often the only calorie-burning limitation is the human factor – you’ll wear out before kitty loses interest! If wand toys aren’t your thing, “you can create your own Stairmaster with a laser pointer and a flight of stairs,” Dr. E suggests.
Your cat may also have a "prey preference". One might be a real mouser. In our home, though, Allie's a "bird-er" and Maxwell's the "bug guy." Test you cat out on different toys that mimic various types of prey to see which kinds they favor. More calories will be burned if you target their particular interests.
You can read more about prey preference and other basic needs for indoor cats at Ohio State University's excellent Indoor Pet Initiative site.
Cat owners can click here, while dog owners will want to check this link out.
Ohio State University's Indoor Pet Initiative