Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12/09/2014

Obesity in Cats ... and What to do About an Overweight Cat

Ever wonder what to do about your overweight cat? Overweight and actually obese cats outnumber cats of normal weight and are being seen more and more commonly by veterinarians for various disorders. In fact, obesity in cats can predispose the cat to diabetes, hepatic lipidosis and arthritis.

However, weight loss plans in cats needs to be approached very carefully. Here we will try and assist you with your overweight cats so that your kitty won't have to be encumbered by obesity.

2011 study by APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) found that over 50 percent of cats were either obese or overweight. So what is happening that predisposes our domestic felines to a life of sedentary obesity?

The answer is multifactorial but to simplify, just remember this: any individual mammal (dog, cat, horse, human, etc.) will gain body weight if it consumes more calories than it burns as fuel for energy. That’s pretty simple, but true.

In nature, food acquisition has never been a sure thing for any creature -- not for canines, felines or humans. So food acquisition has always been accompanied by physical exertion to capture (or cultivate) and consume the food.

It is only in recent times that the unnatural situation of food excess, readily acquired and consumed with little accompanying physical exertion, has become a way of life. We humans have figured how not to have to do all that work of capturing and cultivating to build up stores of food.

Through agricultural expertise we have learned how to grow food and raise livestock and to have those food sources readily available and in abundance … just in case we get hungry! We learned how to refrigerate, dry, preserve and store foods in large quantities that assured us we would not have to endure long and unsuccessful hunting forays nor suffer through famines.

We have also created the very same food acquisition assurances for our domestic dogs and cats. They, as we, no longer have to hunt to survive. Indeed, we no longer even have to live outdoors.

It’s interesting that our pets have mirrored our own tendency to have trouble with weight control. The major difference, though, is that we humans have complete control over what our pets eat and how much they eat. Unless your cat is sneaking into the fridge and making ham and cheese sandwiches late at night when no one is around, the only way they get to eat is when YOU place the food in front of them.

Every veterinarian has repeatedly heard a serious-minded cat (or dog) owner state "I know you think she’s overweight, Doctor, but it isn’t from the food! She hardly eats a thing."

Well, is the pet overweight from high calorie air? Maybe it’s the water … or from laying on that couch all the time. That’s it! The couch is making the kitty fat, not the food.

Seriously, far too many pet owners truly believe that food intake has nothing at all to do with their pet’s weight and no amount of counseling will convince them otherwise. If that describes your position, read no further because the rest of this article is all about how to feed the proper food and in the correct quantity so that the cat will lose weight safely or maintain an optimum weight. There will be nothing in this article about the effect of high calorie air, water or comfortable furniture on the cat’s weight problem.

Any cat that is overweight should have a physical exam performed, exact weight measured and blood and urine tests run. It is vital that normal thyroid hormone levels are present and that the cat has no physical or metabolic dysfunction.

If the cat is physically normal -- other than the abnormal body weight from fat deposition -- then a gradual and careful weight loss program can be instituted.

First, let’s look at what the causes of obesity are and what we can do to correct OUR mistakes …

FREE CHOICE FEEDING


The main reason for feline obesity (as well as obesity in other mammals) is the consumption of too much food. Deny it all you want but it is a fact.

What we do…
Many cats are fed "free choice," which means there is food available all the time and the cat eats whenever it wants. (Pretty unnatural for a true carnivore that evolved as a hunting machine!) Free choice feeding has probably been the biggest single factor contributing to feline obesity.

What we should do…
Feed two to four small portions daily and control the amounts fed so that over a period of time the cat does not gain weight. Many pet owners must downsize what theythink is a "normal" portion. A meal for a 175-pound human might weigh 16 to 24 ounces. A seven-pound cat weighs 1/25 of the 175-pound human.

So a cat’s meal should proportionally be about 1/25 of a human meal. That comes out to between 0.6 and 1.0 ounce of food per meal for a seven-pound cat… about the same weight as a mouse. Cat owners must stop thinking in terms of "cups of food" and start thinking in terms of ounces of food.

CARBOHYDRATES


Cats, unlike most mammals, have no carbohydrate-digesting enzyme called Amylase in their saliva. Humans and dogs do and actually begin the digestion of carbohydrate in the mouth. In the intestine, amylase secreted from the pancreas breaks down large carbohydrate molecules into absorbable smaller units of glucose. Cats have measurably less amylase activity than humans or dogs. Nature did not intend the kitty to be a carbohydrate consumer.

What we do…
We purchase convenient, attractively packaged and preserved dry foods mainly because we can pour it in the bowl and forget it. Dry pet food must have higher levels of flour and sugar than canned foods so that the kibble will stay uniform and not fall apart. Spoiling doesn’t readily occur because of the preservatives so the kitty can eat whenever it wants and we don’t have to prepare cat meals very often. Unfortunately, especially with dry diets, because of the metabolic biochemistry that converts the high carbohydrate content in almost all of today’s commercial cat foods into stored fat, the cat is really at risk for weight gain.

What we should do…
Feed a diet consistent with the nature of a true carnivore… a meat based diet. An ideal feline diet will have a high protein level in the 35 to 45 percent range on a dry matter basis (meaning the percent in the diet when the water has been removed) and moderate fat content with a low percentage of carbohydrate (grains).

A multitude of research reports have proven that diets high in protein and fat are most beneficial for carnivores. Cats cannot handle large carbohydrate loads efficiently. After a meal rich in carbohydrate the feline’s blood level of glucose tends to stay higher than normal for long periods of time. They become persistently hyperglycemic and this long term stimulus on the beta cells in the pancreas -- the cells that produce insulin -- renders those cells less sensitive to the blood glucose. As a result less insulin is secreted to bring down the blood sugar level. Nutritionists call this “down regulating’ of the beta cells; the insensitivity of the insulin secreting beta cells leads to what is termed “insulin resistance”. This scenario is a prelude to diabetes.

PROTEIN

We all know how cats crave mice and birds as a food source. A natural source of nutrition for carnivores, mice and birds are a perfect diet for a cat. Did you know that a mouse or a bird is composed of only 3 to 8 percent carbohydrate? And most of that is actually from what the prey was eating and is in the prey's digestive tract. The rest is water, a few minerals, and mostly protein and fat.

What we do...
Many of us purchase dry cat foods, some with food coloring to make it look like meat and with flour and sugars and preservatives. We buy these dry foods partly because they state that it is COMPLETE and BALANCED for cats and because it is convenient for us to pour a few days' worth of food into a bowl for the kitty to eat whenever it wants. Unfortunately, most dry cat food brands are relatively low in protein... especially the less expensive brands that state a grain such as corn as the first (major) ingredient.

Another associated problem is the myth that we often feed our cats (and dogs) too much protein. This indefensible myth... that protein causes kidney problems... is totally unfounded and has caused more dogs and cats to suffer from poor diets than just about any other cause. Go here to see reasons why this myth is just that... a myth with no scientific affirmation.)

What we should do...
We must feed cats a diet with high percentages of protein and fat and low percentages of carbohydrate (grains) if we expect them to maintain optimum body weights and a proper state of nutrition. Protein is THE key nutrient in a carnivore diet. On a dry weight basis... where the percent of ingredients is determined without any water in the ration... a feline's diet should contain 35 to 45 percent protein, 40 percent fat, and possibly just a small percentage of carbohydrate. (Remember... a true carnivore needs NO carbohydrate in the diet.) Some nutritionists suggest 25 percent carbohydrate, 50 percent protein, 25 percent fat.

CAT TREATS


We seem to think we need to reward our cats with food -- and that's why cat treats are so popular. Nearly every cat caretaker has relented, too, when our cat has begun to vocalize, roam restlessly and seem to "need something". This is normal interactive behavior for a cat and has no relationship to the cat being hungry! But we perceive the kitty to be hungry so we give it a treat as a snack. And most cat treats are specially flavored to be irresistible to cats, otherwise they wouldn't sell well and there'd be no profit for the manufacturer.

Give your cat a treat for vocalizing and you have rewarded it for vocalizing, and you have just taught the cat to vocalize even more. If you MUST give cat treats to your cat, read below how to do it logically and nutritionally.

What we do…
As sensitive and caring humans, we always want to reward our kitty by providing extra special treats. Most treats for cats have high levels of carbohydrate (flower and sugars) and lots of flavor enhancers to entice the cat to eat even when it is not hungry.

Cats that annoy us with vocalizing and pretending that they are starving to death sometimes are rewarded for that annoying vocalizing by being given a treat to “keep ‘em quiet”. When we provide the treat we reinforce the vocalizing, effectively rewarding the cat for making all that racket, and essentially training the cat to make even more noise!

What we should do…
Stop feeding treats to the overweight cat. IF you think your cat NEEDS a treat, cut up little bits of cooked chicken or fish and feed as a natural protein treat… not a treat made from grains, food coloring, propylene glycol, and flavor enhancers. And NEVER feed a treat as a means of stopping a cat from vocalizing because it has the exact opposite effect and actually reinforces the cat’s vocalizing/begging behavior.





Thank you so much to everyone for your generous gifts from our Amazon wish list!!

Simba helping with openning boxes!

Amazon often does not put packing slips in the boxes and they never give us your contact info so we are not able to personally contact you to thank you.  Please know that we deeply appreciate your kindness and are very grateful to you for your support!

This list is from several days of boxes :)
 
Thank you Ananya Pactachai for the exam gloves, detergent and cat food!
Thank you Blanka Allgood for the cat food!
Thank you Brent Whittam for the cat toy!
Thank you Charlene Lauzon for the cat toys, cat food, milk thistle, trash bags, softener sheets, soccer ball toys,pet cleaner and gloves! 
Thank you Christina Leo for the cat toy!
Thank you Christopher Collins for the cat toys and cat food!
Thank you Cynthia Jennings for the catnip toy!
Thank you Diana Whay for the milk thistle and pet bed!

Treasure like the cute tent bed!


Thank you Diane Kingsland for the pet bed!
Thank you Diane Stankard for the fabric softener and cat food!
Thank you Ellie Goodbread for the cat food!
Thank you Gayle Blackham for the cat toys, litter and cat food!
Thank you Gina Johnson for the cat food and cat food!
Thank you James Kerslake for the automated cat toy!
Thank you Jeffrey Copp for the dish soap and better life cleaner!
Thank you Karen Baron for the catnip baggies!

Garfield love the catnip baggies!

Thank you Karen Croft for the milk thistle and cat toys!
Thank you Kathlyn Williams for the cat toys!
Thank you Kathy Weis for the cat food!
Thank you Kelly Meagher for the cat treats and toys!
Thank you Kimberly Junarashine for the freshstep litter!
Thank you Kirk Miller for the cat food!
Thank you Kristal Munk for the scratch and rest!
Thank you Kristin Symes for the cat food and scratch and rest!

Fred loves the treat that were sent!

Thank you Lesley Hall for the cat food!
Thank you Linda Carden for the note pads, legal paper, sticky note pads and potty pads!
Thank you Lola Whitehead for the trash bags, gloves, cat food, activated carbon, ink cartridge set and milk thistle!
Thank you Michael Campbell for the cat toys!
Thank you Michael Foster for the cat food and cat toys!
Thank you Mrs. CV Bishop-Wells for the cat toys!
Thank you Sandra Lode for the cat food, cat toys and detergent!
Thank you Sandra Masciarelli for the cat bed!

Sargent trying to sleep in the new car bed!

Thank you Sarabeth LeVangis for the cat toy, cat food, milk thistle and cat tree!
Thank you Shufen Wang for the cat toys and cat food!
Thank you Stephanie Zuchowski for the milk thistle
Thank you Suzanne Coholic for the chocolate bars!
Thank you Trevor Daggitt for the cat food!
Thank you Unknown for the cat food!
Thank you Unknown for the cat food!

Cristina hold the new cat food!

Thank you Unknown for the cat food!
Thank you Unknown for the cat toys!
Thank you Unknown for the food, treats and beds!
Thank you Unknown for the kuranda!
Thank you Unknown for the litter and toys!

Earnest wondering when the play cube will be opened for playtime!


As you do your Christmas shopping we hope you will use smile.amazon when you shop at amazon, they will donate money to us from them not you for everything you buy from them.
Here is the link:   http://smile.amazon.com/      

Domino is asking to please use smile.amazon for your purchases!



Thank you to the wonderful people who share their auctions with the cats! 
 You may find lots of them at 







Here is an auction what a cute clip and the person has more to see. She is donating 25% of the auction with the cats!! Here is the link: 
EBAY 





One vote every 24 hours. 


LT is wondering if you have voted today yet!


NEW CONTEST - Snicker says please Help the cats win $1,000 and You win a $100 package too  Please put Blind Cat Rescue under the shelter block   Here is the link: http://www.dailykibble.com/promo/SpreadtheLove2014/
Thank you for helping!!
Meadow would like for you to vote!


New Contest (#3) Please Help the cats win 10,000 meals from Halo  (that is lots of food!!  http://tinyurl.com/k5kf2v9 )put in shelter name, Blind Cat Rescue, town St Pauls, NC Thank you for helping the cats!!!! 

The whole gang would like your vote!

NEW CONTEST, Please vote for Snicker  One vote a day 

http://www.shopforyourcause.com/click-to-donate
They will donate cash to each group based upon the amount of votes so each group wins something 
Thank you for helping

Snicker and Richey hope you vote!

Taking pre-orders now for the Calendars!!!!
We will start taking pre-orders soon for calendars and will try to ship them in December. We will try to get them to you by Christmas if your in the US if your international we hope you will get it by then (if not we are sorry), Please order by December 19th 2014. They make great Christmas gifts and what a great way to start the new year with one!





Don't forget we have our annual Christmas tree decorating fundraiser! It makes a great gift for someone who has everything! Here is the link:  http://blindcatrescue.com



Do you walk or run?  The Droid app is finally ready.  If you pick Blind Cat Rescue as your charity,  every time you walk/run  they will donate to the cats!


CFC #67324