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Don't want a fat cat? Tips on preventing pet obesity

September 10, 2008 | 12:41 pm

Not_the_sea_world_version_2So your cat may not weigh a whopping 44 pounds or even 35 like this monster, who goes by Shamu. But how do you make sure your pet's extra pounds don't balloon into the realm of obesity? Amelia Glynn at Tails of the City offers these tips:

  • Overeating is the primary cause of weight gain in pets. And for them, overeating is usually a simple matter of overfeeding — giving them huge portions and an overabundance of between-meals snacks and fatty table scraps. Talk to your vet about reducing your animal's caloric intake, the possibility of switching to a "diet" food formula, or choosing a higher quality brand of pet food — one with whole, healthy and nutritious ingredients (like meat!) and less fillers and preservatives.
  • Keep their water bowl full. Hydration is important for good digestion and overall health.
  • Offer healthy treats like carrot sticks, cantaloupe (many cats love it), unbuttered popcorn, apple slices, or even bits of banana. Try experimenting with a few crunchy alternatives. You both might be surprised.
  • Schedule more pet play into your week. Keep in mind that cats need exercise too, even through they don't require walks like their canine counterparts. ... And for dogs, remember that having a back yard isn't enough. Your pooch won't "automatically" exercise when presented with a grassy patch any more than you will. If you already know your schedule is too packed to make it to the park, hire a dog walker or barter your gardening prowess for a few walks from a petless (but pet-loving) friend or neighbor who works from home.

Not sure if your dog or cat is overweight? You can determine where your companion stands by determining its body condition score, which rates pet physique from emaciated to obese.

-- Tony Barboza

Photo credit: Jeff Fusco / New York Daily News

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