Most of our pets will face some kind of injury or illness in their lifetime. Often, we as pet parents, will feel helpless as these setbacks are unpreventable and untreatable. But obesity, a condition that plagues over half of the nation’s cats and dogs is preventable. According to Ernie Ward, DVM, obesity is “avoidable, not inevitable.”
In the PetMD article, Why Your Pet’s Weight Really Matters, Dr. Ward mentions the two main problems facing overweight cats: health and money. Obesity not only leads to osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart/respiratory disease, and cancer; it also affects your cat’s quality of life. Ward believes that pet owners could avoid a lot of vet care expenses if they made smarter and better food choices for their pets. In essence, making smarter food choices improves your cat’s health and can save you money! That’s a win-win.
So, what can you do to make sure your cat maintains a healthy weight? As Dr. Ward says, “Let’s change a few minor things here and we can avoid this.”
- Find a good vet. Visit an animal doctor who is interested and knowledgeable. Half the battle is finding a vet who sees the value in helping your cat stay at a healthy weight. Keep the lines of communication open with your vet, and take the recommendation seriously if he or she suggests your cat lose weight.
- Measure your cat’s food. Don’t forget that the amount you fed Fluffy last year may not be the amount she requires this year. Unsure of how much to feed your cat? For starters, in her PetMD post, How Much Should I Feed My Cat, Dr. Jennifer Coates recommends checking the side of the food container for the recommended dosage by weight.
- Educate yourself on cat food. Use a tool like MyBowl to learn what to feed your cat and how much in order to ensure your cat receives optimum nutrition. MyBowl breaks down the role carbohydrates, protein, and fats/oils play in your cat’s overall well being.
- Dole out treats in moderation. When we were new pet parents, we used a treat to lure our dog back inside each time she went out to go potty. Before long, she expected that treat, and she got it, each and every time she came in the door! It’s best not to start habits like these, or to give your cat treats out of guilt when you cannot spend more time with him. Use treats sparingly, on special occasions.
- Switch to canned food. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention conducted a study that found overfeeding a cat just 10 extra pieces of food per day can add up to a pound of weight per year for the average cat. Canned food is easier to measure, and can help you make sure to give your cat only the recommended amount.
Dr. Ward believes feeding your cat well is one of the most important decisions you can make when it comes to your cat’s health. According to Ward, “It’s not rocket science or a medical secret, just good old-fashioned food measuring and making smart choices. That alone can have tremendous impacts on the length of quality of your pet’s life.”