Earlier this week, one of our fabulous technicians, Daria, sent us this great comic about feline obesity. We knew right then what we should talk about in the week’s blog post: feline obesity!
Obesity in cats can be a bit tricky. There are a few common mantras we hear when it comes to a cat’s weight, “Our cat is big boned…” and “His tummy hangs a little bit, but he’s happy…” Although both seem like good reasons to let your cat be a bit chubby, that extra weight can take years off your cat’s life.
For cats just a pound or two extra can be the difference between healthy and unhealthy and with 50% of cats in America overweight it is important we start looking at where we are going wrong as pet parents.
The biggest cause of pet obesity is how and what we feed our cats. Cats are known to be as lazy creatures. They burn very few calories each day and just like humans the only way they lose weight is to burn more calories then they take in.
How to know if your cat is overweight:
Visual: While your cat is standing, look down at your cat from above, do they look like they swallowed a ball? If so, they are overweight!
Feel: You shouldn’t be able to see your cat’s ribs, but you should be able to feel them. If you cannot feel your cat’s ribs and/or backbone, they are over weight.
What your doctor may be noticing: There are several common illnesses that we see in cats that are overweight:
- Liver issues
- And skin problems when they are too big to properly clean themselves
Helping your cat lose weight
How to properly feed your cat:
If you cat is overweight, the easiest way to help them lose weight is to restrict their food intake. For many families, this means they must stop free feeding. Free feeding is the easiest way for a cat to gain weight. It is as if you left a chocolate cake out on the counter and told your human child to take a bite only when they were hungry -you would be out of cake in a minute!
Choose healthy cat foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Just like humans, proteins will help your cat feel full while carbs will help pack on the extra pounds. Also, consider reducing the number of treats, and substitute with good ol’ fashion human attention as a praise or reward.
How to help your cat burn a few extra calories:
If you are already reducing their food intake or feel that their food portions are already within a healthy range, consider increasing their exercise level. Games like “laser tag” where they try to catch the red dot of a laser pointer, or having them work for their food (putting it in several, small dishes or piles on a multi-level cat tree, so they must jump and walk around to eat) will help increase their activity and calorie burning!
We always recommend checking with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your cat’s lifestyle as some pets can be negatively affected by change. If you are considering making changes to their diet or exercise routine, give us a call! We would be happy to talk with you and confirm that you will see positive benefits to the changes you make!
For many pets “back to school” season can come as a shock. Having spent the whole summer with their human siblings hanging around the house, your pet may experience their own empty nest syndrome. This time of year is also when we all get busy and our pets’ health takes a back seat. Here are a few tips to help your pet this back to school season!
Consider a pamper day for your pet!
You love a pedicure, massage, and hour in the sauna –why wouldn’t your pet? In the same way that your body releases endorphins and good feelings when pampered, your pet’s body will also relax, release happy endorphins, and help to reduce muscle tension and strain. If your pet also happens to be a senior, arthritis and other age-related body aches can be relieved through a good day of pampering, acupuncture, or Class IV laser therapy (both of which just happen to be available at PAH!).
Although you may have already taken advantage of our overnight boarding options, did you know PAH also has day care services available? Drop off your pet early in the morning, and let them hang out with our staff for the day! We are open until 9:00pm every weekday, so you have plenty of time to wrangle the kids and pick up your pets. If you are short on time, running your kids back and forth, bathing, nail trims, and healthcare services can all be taken care of during this time too!
Plan ahead for their exams, preventative care, and medications
The veterinary industry sees a major decline in pet preventive health care during the back to school season. Don’t let your pet’s health slip through the cracks. Contact your veterinarian by phone, email, or through our online scheduling system for examinations and preventative vaccines and treatments. Flea and parasite prevention and most other medications can all also be ordered ahead of time and picked up quickly while you are out on the go. You can even pay ahead over the phone if you know you won’t have time to stop and chat with the receptionists!
Be sure your pets get plenty of exercise
Did your pets get to go outside every day this summer? Are they now suffering from a bad case of couch-potato-itis? Be sure to keep your pet active even with school starting. As little as a sunset walk can help keep your pet from getting restless and destructive. For cats, five minutes a day of “catch the laser pointer dot” can be the difference between healthy and obese!
Spend 10 minutes a day with each pet –it will do you both good!
There is tons of research attesting to the healing powers of time spent with a pet. If you are feeling the stress and burn out common with back to school season, take ten minutes each day for your health and your pets. Cuddle on the couch, play fetch, go for a walk, lounge in bed, share a few baby carrots, whatever your favorite activities are, try them with your pet. You are both sure to feel the healing effects!
Every once in a while, we wish we could just bury our heads in our work and pretend the world around us doesn’t exist. The recent death of actor Robin Williams certainly made us want to snuggle up with our furry family and friends and ignore the world outside for a moment. For many people Robin Williams was an icon, mentor, and muse. For us, he is a constant reminder of what a good pet owner and pet advocate can look like.
If you are unfamiliar with Robin Williams, here are some interesting facts about him and pets.
-Robin Williams has a precious pug, Leonard, who was often pictured on his twitter account. Details about their relationship and Leonard’s adoption can be found here.
-He supported rescues and spoke about the many benefits of adoption
-He included cats and dogs in his standup routine.
In a hilarious, all be it not-child appropriate, stand up routine, Williams discusses the pretentious nature of cats and the pee-to-claim mentality of dogs. If you are a fan of William’s comedy routines, we definitely recommend Googling “Robin Williams cats and dogs” to find the video.
-He, like dogs, loved a good chew toy.
When leaving the Ellen show, Williams took a moment to show us both his dancing and chew toy skills.
-His movies and acting with animals
Robin Williams was also no stranger to working with animals.
- What Dreams May Come –William’s character is father to a Dalmatian who he is reunited with in heaven
- Infamous “hot dog” impression (a stretch we know, but who can resist)
- His, now very famous, meeting of Koko the gorilla
- His role in “Old Dogs,” although not about dogs, it does have a great title and famous cast.
- 1990’s childhood classic, Jumanji. and the more recent Night at the Museum
While you plan your weekend activities and think about what to do, we encourage you to spend some time with your pets, watch a great movie, and take a moment to remember Robin Williams.