Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Our beloved cat, known as Kitty, is fat. I mean really fat — 19.3 pounds. How did we get here? Well, she was a shelter cat and was about 10 pounds when she came into life. Over the last 5 years she has grown in size. She has to have steroid injections for her severe allergies, which are better than they used to be since putting her on Orijen, which she loves.
But here we are and she won’t be physically active without catnip and she is such a picky eater she won’t touch weight loss food from vet. And we are worried, concerned parents that our furry child is spiraling into serious medical issues. She has always eaten dry food, but we got her eat baby food- meat flavored, once. Otherwise she won’t touch the wet stuff. Any suggestions for more activities or how to get her active and any tips on food? We give her less than 1/2 cup a day! Many thanks!
Siouxsie: Well, Amanda, it’s awesome that you really want to help Kitty lose weight. You’re absolutely right that obesity can lead to a host of health problems, and by helping her get the weight off now, you’ll help her go into her old age healthy and happy.
Thomas: Steroids are infamous for causing weight gain, so I’m sure that’s contributing to Kitty’s hefty size. It would be a really good idea to talk to your vet about gradually decreasing Kitty’s steroid dosage, especially if she’s responding well to the food you’re giving her now and her allergies are more under control. Reducing the steroids could help Kitty with her weight loss.
Bella: Of course, the fact that she’s a “dry food addict,” so to speak, certainly makes it hard to get her on more nutritious and less allergenic food, but don’t despair — Dr. Lisa Pierson has a great way to get dry food addicts to enjoy canned (or even raw, if you want to go all the way there) food, which you can find here at her website, catinfo.org.
Siouxsie: Another thing we might recommend is to see if she enjoys treats like freeze-dried chicken or shrimp. These are safe and healthy and contain nothing but the meat. They’re tasty and less calorie-dense than a lot of crunchy kitty treats.
Thomas: Now, about getting Kitty to enjoy exercise … our first tip would be to make her work for her food!
Bella: You can do this by buying some rolling treat balls and filling them with small pieces of freeze dried chicken treats. She’ll have to bat the ball around to get the treats to fall out and eat them.
Siouxsie: The rolling treat ball can be a good solution if you’re not ready to get her off kibble just yet because you can put her daily portion in the treat ball.
Thomas: We don’t know what kinds of toys you’ve tried with Kitty, but some cats have very strong preferences about the types of play they enjoy. Some cats are “ground hunters” and like toys that move like mice and snakes, and others are “air hunters” and like toys that fly around.
Bella: I personally love Da Bird and Neko Flies, and I could jump and chase those things all day!
Thomas: And I’m more of a mouse-chasing guy.
Siouxsie: When I was younger, I liked to chase toys that jumped around, but I never flipped end over end in the air like Bella does! These days I’m more of a sleeper, although I do sometimes carry my favorite toy around and meow and meow like I’ve got a delicious treat for the kittens I never had.
Thomas: Aww, it’s okay, Siouxsie — you know there are more kittens in the world than we’ll ever need. Besides, the way you reacted when Dahlia came home …
Siouxsie: It’s different when they’re your own.
Bella: I’m glad I’m spayed! I’ve got too much work to do to mind a litter of kittens!
Thomas: Anyhow, another thing you can do is to make Kitty climb for her food. Get her a nice, big cat tree if you don’t already have one, and encourage her to climb the cat tree by putting treats on the different levels or playing with interactive toys on the different levels.
Siouxsie: The idea is to take the things she regularly does and turn them into mental stimulation and exercise. Considering that Kitty weighs twice as much as she should, you probably should start with milder exercise at first, and as she slims down, she’ll get more interested in exercise and probably start doing it herself.
Thomas: How about you other readers? Have you been able to help a really obese cat shed those extra pounds or convert a dry food addict into a canned food eater? Please share your tips in the comments.