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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dieting Cat

Here's a question from Sami...

About 10 months ago my vet advised me that my male 8 year old cat, Pete, needed to lose 3 pounds (he weighed 18 lbs then). He's successfully lost 2 lbs, I can definitely tell that he's healthier, he actually runs to his food bowl and is a lot more affectionate. I feed him 3 times a day but he still seems to be hungry all the time and I hate reducing what he eats further. The problem is that he is losing weight really slowly (only an ounce a week for the past 6 weeks--previously it was about 3 oz a week). My question is, is this too slow a rate of weigt loss? Should I just be happy he is still losing weight at all? This is normally the time of year he usually starts to put on weight and sleep even more.

Congratulations on the weight loss, Sami. It's not always easy to get pets to loose weight, especially cats. But obesity can cause numerous health problems, including diabetes and liver disorders. Overweight pets don't live as long as slim ones, so continue the good work.

One of the the things most people don't realize is that most pets won't maintain their own weight. A dog or cat can't rationalize that they will be fed again tomorrow, so they will eat as much as they can today. That's part of their natural instincts and is something that can't be trained out of them. They also enjoy the taste of food, and will eat because of the taste as much as from hunger. The end result is that you can't use a pet's seeming hunger to determine how much or how often they should eat. How many of us continue to eat even when we're full? So Sami, continue to feed the recommended amount and learn to ignore your cat's cries for more food.

Weight loss in cats should be slow and steady. If an overweight cat looses weight too fast, it could cause problems with the liver. However, as the cat loses weight, the amount of calories it needs will also reduce, so you may need to reduce the amount of food that you have to feed. Talk to your vet about the specific amount to feed per day for your cat's weight needs, and stick closely to that with measuring cups. Continue to do what you're doing and you can help your cat live a longer and healthier life.