Feline obesity is also on the Rise
One of my neighbors is so fat!
How fat is she?
She is so fat, that when she waddles around the house, her stomach drags on the floor.
It’s kinda cute!
But I imagine that those few extra pounds, aren’t healthy.
In fact, “fat cats” are such a concern, that today we have the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. They state that last year, some 60% of cats were either obese, or overweight. 56% of dogs were also either obese, or overweight.
But indoor cats face a graver challenge, as they don’t enjoy regular access to the great outdoors. Chris Garza is Development and Marketing Manager for the Animal Defense League of Texas — San Antonio. We met at their Paul Jolly Center for Pet Adoption at Brackenridge Park, to discuss the problem.
“The easiest go-to, is food. And the easiest thing for a lot of people is that if your cat is outside your bedroom door, in the middle of the night and whining, it is really easy to give it food, instead of finding out what the issue is.”
Garza owns three cats. Three! He says if one of them was being annoying, (fancy that), he gave them a nibble. Or a treat, or a snack. But as with children, it’s not wise to use food as a “pacifier”.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention cites that: “As little as two pounds above your cat’s ideal weight can put it at risk for developing some serious medical conditions.”
Those conditions include:
• Type 2 diabetes
• Kidney disease
• Chronic inflammation
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers
So, what’s a fat cat, to do? Along with diet, cats need exercise, to stay trim.
“My cats don’t really like toys. They’ll play with something for like two seconds, and then it ends up under the sofa. But something that they can chase, really works!” says Garza.He says laser pointers can either be manual, where you direct the light, or automatic. As the light dances around, so does your cat.
“They are a great distraction,” says Garza. “Cats are meant to hunt. It is what their bodies are built for. So, if the cat responds to a laser pointer, it is a great way to exercise.” Flashlights can also do the job.
The association recommends a “find the food” exercise, where you put the food bowl upstairs or downstairs, forcing kitty to “hunt” for it. Or, place the bowl far from his favorite areas. If they like chasing feather toys, balls, or jumping in and out of boxes, and paper bags, extend the activity to ten minutes, twice a day. Or build shelves up and down a wall, for them to hop around on, or get a “cat tree”.
If you and Fluffy are the trendy types, you might be game for a “catwalk”.
“I think this is an excellent idea, if you have the pet that can handle it.” Garza says the purr-fect candidate to take on a calorie-burning walk is an adventurous cat, that is curious, and is not nervous with social interaction … it needs to be an extrovert. If you have a cat that runs and hides when guests show up, it is probably not the cat, you want to take on a hike.” Garza bought expensive cat harnesses, to take his cats out. “I have two that fell over and played dead, and one that just walked backwards until I took it off.”
But check out Tuna, the adventure cat, on Instagram. Tuna is a light grey long-haired, adopted feral, who loves hiking with her owner Alexis. After adopting her, Alexis introduced Tuna to a leash, and now they’ve traveled to 20 national parks!
Until next month!
BY BERIT MASON