Hi, for those of you whom I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Sophie and I started with the Morrinsville team in December last year.
As a fellow proud fur-baby parent, I would like to introduce “Mishy Meow” is a slightly strange, social-yet-antisocial, adopted stray tabby that is (embarrassingly for a vet!) a little on the rotund side. Her affection is only willingly offered at 4am when you want to sleep; at all other times she falls victim to non-consented cuddles.
However, before I get too carried away describing my cat, my whole reason for introducing her is that she’s always had the appetite of a Labrador, a voluptuous “primordial pouch” (aka fat pad) and a very besotted father who likes to give her cheese and salami treats. She also has very kind neighbors who seem to think she’s at imminent risk of fading away and like to indulge her.
Why am I so concerned about her growing waistline? So many reasons! To name just a few: overweight cats are prone to heat stress (topical this summer!), urinary issues (think bladder stones, crystals and inflammation), diabetes, arthritis and are at MUCH higher risk when it comes to having an anaesthetic. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that in general, public perception of what counts as overweight doesn’t really line up with what it actually is. To complicate matters, we see so many “chonky” pets in the media (I myself am a member of a facebook page dedicated to chonky felines). Their excess body condition is often portrayed in a positive light: the extra lard is extra cute. What we brush over is the reduced quality and potential longevity of life for these animals and that we are indeed killing them with kindness, as it were.
Up until now, my baby has been on kitten food (excluding her various “treats”). Now that she’s over a year old, I’ve decided to switch her over to an adult food. If she wasn’t already overweight then I’d very happily put her on a diet such as Royal Canin Neutered Young Female. Given that she’s got a Labrador-appetite and the fact that she’s already a bit round, I’m going to put her on a weight control diet such as Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Feline. Putting her on this diet now will help prevent her gaining any further weight and is quite safe now that she’s over 12 months old. Of course, this type of diet won’t compensate for her besotted father or our kindly neighbors, but every little bit counts.
Top things you should know about weight management in pets:
- Just like in humans, weight/weight loss is largely driven by diet (not exercise) and fitness is largely driven by exercise (not diet). Increasing exercise will have a minimal effect when it comes to weight loss: calorie intake must be addressed properly.
- Remember that cats and dogs have much smaller bodies than us (excluding large breed dogs!). Therefore, if you have a cat who is clocking in at 4.5Kg and they should be 4Kg, whilst that extra half kilo doesn’t sound like much it’s actually a large proportion!
- If your pet needs to lose some weight, we do not recommend sudden, large restrictions in food. This can be very dangerous and cause diseases like hepatic lipidosis. Safe weight loss is about slowly and sustainably shedding the extra mass. As a general rule, I recommend starting by lowering the volume of their total daily intake by 10-20% for a couple of months. For example, if they get a cup of biscuits in the morning and at night, give them 80% of a cup in the morning and again at night.
- Don’t weigh your pet too often! We are looking for trends, not daily fluctuations. Generally, weighing your animal every two weeks is perfectly adequate (assuming there are no concurrent health conditions). Did you know you are welcome to use our scales for free? Just give our reception a phone call and we can let you know an appropriate time to pop in. Our team can even record your pet’s weight on their file to help you keep track of their progress.
- Beware – sometimes you are not your pet’s only source of food. You may have neighbors that like to treat your pet; is your pet a hunter; do your children (or partner!) sneak your pet food; do you live on or near a farm where your pet may have access to all manner of interesting things? If your animal is on a special diet or trying to lose weight, make sure you tell all the possible human food sources so they know not to give your animal extras. You can even get a tag that can go on your pet’s collar that says “I’m on a special diet; please don’t feed me!”
- Weight management in our pets can be a bit of an art. What works for every pet can differ slightly and it can be a matter of trying different things to see what works for you and your fur baby.
- Prevention is better (or easier!) than cure. Weight loss can be particularly difficult in cats due to their ability to locate/sneak other food sources! In my case, I’m going to put Mishy Meow onto Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Feline from now on to try and avoid her getting extra-chonky and hopefully avoid all the associated problems discussed earlier.
If you have any queries about food or weight management in pets, don’t hesitate to ask your local Anexa clinic. We stock a great range of trusted, proven products and if there’s something you need that we don’t have, we can order it in for you.