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How to Keep Your Cat from Getting Fat

Posted on August 06, 2014 | 1 comment

Your fat cat may appear happy and provide visitors with a source of amusement, but feline obesity is certainly no laughing matter. Cats who carry excess weight have a heightened risk for diabetes, cancer, liver problems, degenerative joint pain and other conditions that could severely curtail its quality of life. Recent studies discovered that more than half of all dogs and cats are diagnosed as either overweight or obese by their veterinarians. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to keep your feline from getting fat.

The most obvious reason for feline obesity is the ingestion of more daily calories than a cat can burn off through activity or normal metabolic processes -- the same basic issue faced by so many overweight humans. If your cat is encased in a thick layer of fur, you may have trouble telling whether he is overweight. You should feel deeply with your hands to see if you can feel ribs, spine or hip bones. You can also compare your cat to the body condition charts developed by Purina diets that are used by all veterinarians. If your cat is too heavy, do some serious thinking about your cat's eating habits and activity level.

Weight Control Tips and Tricks

The main tip for keeping your cat at a good weight, or getting your overweight cat to lose weight, is to feed them only canned food. In order for manufacturers to make a food dry, they have to add a lot of carbohydrate to the ration. It is believed that cats need more of an Atkins-type diet, high in protein and low in carbohydrate. It should be a good quality food, balanced with the right proportion of protein, fats, etc, and formulated according to AAFCO guidelines. You should look for this statement in the fine print on the can.

Since calories that go unburned will only turn to fat, you may need to get your sedentary cat moving if you wish to keep him from getting heavy. Try playing games with him, or get him a canine or feline playmate who will keep him on his toes. Senior pets are at a disadvantage due to their slower metabolism, especially if they cannot move as freely or comfortably as they once did. For these animals, dietary reductions and modifications, coupled with supplements such as glucosamine or omega-3 fatty acids to ease joint problems, may prove helpful.

Changing a cat's eating habits may require changes in his owner's behavior as well. Veterinarians urge owners to reduce the number of treats and remove their cats from the dining room during human mealtimes.

 

 

Sources:

ASPCA,“Overweight Cats.“

Levs, Josh. “Obesity Epidemic Strikes U.S. Pets.“ CNN, 2012.

American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA Diabetes Management Guidelines

Kealy, et. al. “Effects of Diet Restriction on Life Span and Age-Related Changes in Dogs.“ JAVMA 2002; 220:1315-1320

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Do Pets Keep You Healthy?

Posted on February 11, 2014 | 1 comment

Your pets provide companionship, unconditional love and plenty of smiles, but they also make you healthier just by living with you. The health benefits of owning a pet are both physical and psychological, and they extend throughout an owner’s life. By keeping your furry companion healthy and happy, you're actually improving your own health and the health of your entire family.

Pets and a Healthy Heart

While eating right and exercise are important components of maintaining a healthy heart, sharing your home with a pet can be another way to boost your cardiovascular health, according to health research institutes. Owning a pet is linked to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and lower triglyceride levels.

Exercise and Your Pet

If you have a dog, your daily walk together gives both of you needed exercise. Cats often enjoy active play with an owner-controlled string or fishing-pole toy, so it's easy to get small bursts of activity in throughout your day when you've got a feline in the home. Even pet owners with rabbits, hamsters or birds get more exercise than those without any pets because feeding, cage maintenance and playing with your pet are all sources of physical activity.

Children and Pets

Owning pets may be particularly beneficial to kids. According to medical study, children living with two or more dogs or cats in the household during infancy are less likely to have allergies by age six or seven . Pets also provide needed emotional support when a child is upset or troubled, and pets can help children develop empathy and responsibility.

Pets and Elder Health

Older adults often have more healthcare needs, but owning pets can help keep them healthier as they age. Adults 65 and older who have a pet are better able to maintain and improve their ability to handle activities of daily living, which means that owning a pet can help you live independently for longer. Pets also provide social companionship for senior adults, which is vital to psychological health and well being.

Household Companions as Health Monitors

If you have a chronic condition or disability, pets can act as a health monitor and alert you or others to potential problems. In some cases, dogs can alert owners to an impending epileptic seizure or dangerous changes in blood sugar levels, according to a published medical report.

 

Sources:

National Institute of Health, “Can Pets Keep You Healthy?” News in Health, February 2009

Wells, Deborah L. “Domestic Dogs and Human Health: An Overview.” British Journal of Health Psychology, December 2010.

Raina, P; Waltner-Toews, D; Bonnett, B; Woodward, C; Abernathy, T. “Influence of Companion Animals on the Physical and Psychological Health of Older People: an Analysis of a One-Year Longitudinal Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, March 1999.

Ownby, DR; Johnson, CC; Peterson, EL. “Exposure to Dogs and Cats in the First Year of Life and Risk of Allergic Sensitization at 6 to 7 Years of Age.” Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2002.

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