Naples Safari Animal Hospital & Pet Resort

    Feline feeding and exercise guidelines.

    Studies show that there are more overweight and obese pet cats in the US than  there are normal and
    underweight cats.  Carrying excess weight predisposes cats  to liver disease, insulin dependant diabetes,  
    osteoarthritis, dermatologic problems,  and hypertension.

    Why are so many cats overweight?  Lifestyle and diet changes are to blame.  Many of our cats are indoor only, a
    situation which keeps them safe from many diseases, parasites,  predators and traumatic accidents, but offers
    less of an opportunity  for burning calories.  Many cat owners  are in the habit of filling the cat bowl up with
    food whenever it runs low.  This is a convenient way to feed cats , but not necessarily the healthiest for them.  

    Since weight  gain in  cats is a matter of calories in vs. calories burned it would  seem that  reducing the amount
    fed and increasing exercise would do the trick.  Sounds good , but  weight reduction in cats poses special
    concerns.  Overweight cats can develop a life threatening liver condition called hepatic lipidosis if they don’t eat
    or  have a drastic reduction in calories for a number of days, so veterinary supervision is recommended for
    dietary adjustment.  .  While taking your dog on long brisk walks may be a great way for him to burn  calories,  
    not so with your cat.  First of all, very few cats will take to leash walks - cats are not small dogs!  Cats are
    stalkers; they expend short bursts of energy when hunting prey, in the wild are often unsuccessful , and rest to
    reserve energy before for the next try.  It gets easy to see why a cat that sleeps next to a full bowl of food is
    bound to get fat.  

    Cats are also obligate carnivores, in that they require high protein diets, higher than dogs and humans who do
    well with a variety of food groups. This means that their diet should be  a high protein, low carbohydrate,  low
    fat diet.  There are prescription weight loss diets made for this purpose.  Our favorites are PVD D/M and Hills
    m/d.  While other diets may be high in protein many are also high in fat and high in calories,  so doing your
    homework is important.  Some propose  that canned diets may be better for weight loss than dry diets because
    of the higher moisture and lower carbohydrate content.  Another benefit to using a canned diet is that this food
    is usually consumed when fed, which makes controlling intake in multicat households easier.  Again,  it is
    important to supervise your cat carefully when any diet change is initiated.
    We recommend splitting the feedings into 3 per day - one in AM, on at mid day or in the evening , and one at
    bedtime.  If not using canned food, we recommend the same regimen.  Remember total daily calorie intake must
    be  calculated and monitored  - we would be happy to assist you in doing this, as guidelines on the back of the
    bag may be inappropriate.  

    In multicat households this three feeding approach  will help minimize cross feeding - (remove all uneaten food
    between feedings) .  Also, chances are that if one cat in the household is overweight, the others are too. Not sure
    ?  We would be happy to score them for you.  If  difficulties still arise, feeding in separate rooms may be

    As far as exercise goes, we think in terms of environmental enrichment to encourage activity and exploit cat's

    Move the food bowls for each feeding so the cat will have to hunt the right bowl.  
    Place the food in a different location from where your cat usually “hangs”.
    Provide chase toys and  engage your cat twice daily.  Chase toys include feathers on poles, mechanized moving
    toys, laser pointers, aluminum foil balls, remote control mice etc.   Keep in mind that your cat  might become
    bored with a single toy so keep several on hand to switch them out.   
    Place bird feeders or fish tanks in different rooms to keep you cat moving.  
    In SW Florida, where screened lanais are plentiful, wind manipulated hanging toys may provide amusement as
    do multiple bird feeders placed outside the screen to keep them moving and engaged.  

Back to healthy weight

Naples Safari Animal Hospital & Pet Resort, Inc
239-592-1950  on Vanderbilt Beach Rd just East of Livingston Rd.
Hours M-F 7:30-5:30 Sat 8:00-1:00