This post is about overweight cats. I will write about plump dogs another time, but the management of fat dogs and fat cats is entirely different, in my experience.
Most dogs will pretty much eat as long as you put food in front of them. They aren’t picky about their food, either, although they may prefer on kind of bought or home-prepared food to another.
Cats, though, turn up their noses, and will fix you with a dirty look if you present them with something not to their liking. I have stood in front of the cat food selections many, many times while my fellow cat food shoppers bewail the difficulty of choosing a new can or food or moist chunk or even dry food that the cat will like. I have gone out of my way to buy organic foods, foods that you need to refrigerate, and even taken to buying dozens of cans of tuna—all with the same result. After a week or a month or two, the cats are bored by their fare.
This presents a feeding problem, but it tends to keep cats sleeker than their less discerning friends, the dogs. Occasionally, however, you run into a cat that will eat ANYTHING! My fattest cat, over whose weight I despair, well nose our 110# Golden Retriever out of the way to eat the dog food, if the cat food presented wasn't filling enough. He eats his. He eats the other cats. I have taken dished up of uneaten food, but some of my cats like to wander in and out with a dainty nibble now and then.
What to do? I haven’t a really good answer, but these are some things I have tried, with varying degrees of success. One cat we had loved to play ball, and if you were willing, so was he—he’d pat and catch and fetch all day.
First, determine if your cat really is fat. There are breeds of cats that are really huge. Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest (both probably my favorite), Turkish Vans—these cats are built with heavy bones , big paws and large heads. They have a big frame, and in the case of Maine Coons and Wegies, they have fur a-plenty. Feel your cat’s ribs. If you can’t, it’s time for trim-down time. Although she won’t appreciate the depreciation of the amount of food, she will no doubt enjoy games. It doesn’t take much. All my cats have adored bird-on-a-string. T A bunch of feathers, attached to a hook and eye, then attaches to a wand, and it really looks like a bird flying. I have some little stuffed up birds that make very realistic bird sounds, and they will play for an hour. If you hare a laser pointer, your cat will chase it all over the house. I had some old pieces from a mink shawl of my great aunts, the really gross animal minus bones. One cat would huff and growl and carry it up and down chairs, making threatening sounds and flinging the unfortunate stuffed mink onto the floor, picking it up, and bashing it again.
I have purchased food that is low in fat but high in fiber. I have limited the amount of food, and I feed the cats three times a day. Of course, the fat one gobbles his up, feeling deprived, and the other cats have to protect their meals, but the idea is to get the fat cat accustomed to smaller portions. I have mixed a small amount (1/8 tsp.) of olive oil with about 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar with crushed garlic and sprinkled it on the food, as mentioned in a blog of a day or two ago. Supposedly, garlic decreases appetite. Will it do that to your cat/s? I don’t know. It has never done a thing for me. I just think , "Bring it on! More lasagna, more spaghetti, more garlic." But it can’t hurt, it will help repel fleas and may depress your cat’s appetite.
Please note that I don’t guarantee any of the above. Those of us who love cats know that when it comes to their desires, there is no telling what will—and won’t—please them. But keep in mind that lean animals are far healthier than obese ones.
By Gay Fifer, owner Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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