Friday 27 June 2014
Caring for 'well rounded' cats at Wood Green
A growing concern with our pets in society today is the number of overweight or obese animals. At Wood Green, we are caring for several of these “well rounded” individuals. Two of our largest cats are Kimba, a 10 year old female who weighed 7.2kg and Gunner, an 8 year old male who weighed 9.18kg on entry. Kimba was so overweight that she couldn’t manage to groom her back end and presented with matted fur and the risk of having skin infections underneath the matts. Overweight, or ‘fat’ cats face a number of medical issues that their slimmer counterparts have a reduce risk of contracting. The inability to groom and possibility of dermatitis, fly strike or other skin problems are just a few on a long list.
Some of the conditions that obese animals are at risk of include, but are not limited to; diabetes (where there is too much glucose in the blood), heart conditions, respiratory difficulties, skin conditions due to lack of grooming, arthritis and even premature death. Arthritis is a condition that is found in a large percentage of older cats, however, if the animal is overweight, the arthritic changes are seen earlier and the joints are under more stress due to the increased weight and consequently the pain is greater. Many of these medical problems can cause behavioural changes in your cat as well as unnecessary pain and suffering. Most of the conditions cannot be treated and cured; they will have to be managed and will be on-going for the life of the cat. Most, if not all, are preventable to a certain degree.
The cats under our care at Wood Green are placed on a strict weight loss regime that can include decreased amounts of food or being placed on formulated, balanced diet foods, increased exercise or play times with staff and have their weight monitored regularly and the weight loss plans updates accordingly. It is very important with cats that they lose the weight gradually, over certain periods of time, and that this is monitored carefully by a veterinary professional.
If you are concerned that your cat is overweight, take him or her to the vet for a weight check. A cat’s ribs should be easily felt under the skin but not be able to be seen. There should be a ‘waist’ between the back of the ribs and the hips, when looking from above, and the stomach should tuck up towards the hind legs, not droop downwards. If these things are missing from your cat’s physique then they are at risk of being over weight or obese.
Diet plays a major factor in managing a cat’s weight. Cats are obligate carnivores and so they do not need carbohydrates in their diets. Ensure you are feeding a high quality diet with minimal carbs and try to follow a recommended feeding plan. Controlled feeding at specific meal times is a better way of controlling weight than having food available all day.
Exercise is the other important factor. You cannot really take your cat for a jog or a walk around the block – unless you have a special kitty that walks on a harness, and so when increasing exercise, this means increasing play time. Find interactive toys or even just a cardboard box and spend small amounts of time frequently playing with your cat. There are toys out there that will regulate the amount of food available for your cat, toys where you put food inside and the cat has to play with it to get the food out in small portions.
The first port of call when trying to determine if your cat is overweight or to start a weight loss plan should always be your local veterinary surgery.