Mar 28 2016

Is Your Finicky Feline Fat?

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By Dawn Todd

At The Ark we often see felines who tip the scales at 15, 20 or even 30 pounds! Even our resident beefcake Tiny Tim struggles to keep his waistline from spilling too far out Dr. Thomas’s in basket!

Did you know adult cats should not weigh more than 10 pounds? If your favorite feline is a bit “big boned” it’s time to take action!

Here are the TOP FIVE feline health problems we see:

1. Obesity

2. Kidney failure (the primary cause of early death in domestic cats)

3. Diabetes

4. Urinary obstructions– especially in male cats

5. Chronic bladder irritation - often leading to litter box issues (the most common behavioral problem we see)

A diet consisting primarily of dry food is often to blame for all of these health issues, and there are two primary reasons for this:

Reason #1. Cats seldom drink enough water, and dry food is very…dry.

Yeti loves to drink from faucet.
Cats evolved in the desert, and thus have a very low natural thirst drive. When we eat a bag of pretzels, or anything else salty and dry – we feel thirsty and seek out a wide variety of beverages to drink. Cat’s don’t have the same options, and they can be very finicky about what and where they’ll drink. Before domestication, cats got water by consuming their prey. Raw meat, canned food, and freshly caught mice are all about 70-75% water.

Dry cat food has about 10% moisture. Cats become chronically dehydrated because they rarely drink enough water to properly digest dry food. This causes their urine to become very concentrated and leads to the urinary health issues we see so often in cats who love their crunchy kibble.

Cats must consume two to three times as much water as dry food to get close to creating the 70% moisture in fresh food. So in other words, if you feed ½ cup of dry food, your cat must drink at least 1 cup of water to remain properly hydrated. Even if your cat seems to drink a lot of water, it’s likely not even close to the amount required to keep urine dilute enough to avoid problems.

Fountains for better health

Many cats love water that is moving and fresh. We can make providing that easy for you. Noah’s Ark loves using water fountains, which can encourage cats to drink more water than they naturally would. We have a great selection of water fountains at the Ark in prices that range from $20 – $75. 

Reason #2. Cats are true carnivores, and don’t require carbohydrates. Inexpensive dry cat food is primarily carbohydrate calories.  

The majority of energy provided by dry food diets are provided as carbohydrates, a cheap source of energy. Cats inevitably become obese on carbohydrate rich diets. Like us, obese felines are at risk for developing diabetes. Diabetes is difficult and expensive to manage in cats.

DR. TODD’S TIPS FOR CATS WHO CRAVE KIBBLE:  

FIRST, transition your cats to high quality canned cat food. 

Visit these two websites for great advice on transitioning kibble junkies to canned cat food: www.feline-nutrition.org/nutrition and www.catinfo.org.

We have a handout at Noah’s Ark that shows you how much it costs to feed a wide variety of high and low quality diets. You’ll be surprised by some of the data, so stop by and pick one up!

If you’re up for it, consider converting your cats to a raw, fresh meat diet- the ultimate natural diet for cats. We are here to help you with that! Dawn’s available for diet consultations in person, or via email at dawntodd@noahsarkvet.us.

NEXT, plan a reasonable weight loss goal.

An average cat only requires 250 – 300 calories per day to maintain a healthy body weight.

Weight loss can only occur if fewer calories are consumed than “spent” whether you’re a cat, a dog, or a human. If you feed a cat 100 calories per day less, it will still take at least a month to lose a single pound; but that’s a perfectly fine rate of weight loss.

Never put food out and let cats and dogs (or kids) “free feed” or have access to food at all times…that nearly always leads to obesity. 

FINALLY, get your fluffy feline off the sofa! Our domestic kitties need to eat less AND exercise more.

In the wild, cats expend lots of energy catching breakfast, lunch and dinner – those mice don’t just walk up and volunteer their services!

Kitty feather wands, laser pointers, and chasing toys can all stimulate activity. Noah’s Ark also has the Fun Kitty Eggcersizer available for sale. Put some low calorie treats in and watch your cat move it around the floor, burning calories in order to get a tasty treat!

AND REMEMBER, dry food DOES NOT help keep cats’ or dogs’ teeth shiny and white!

Many cats and dogs swallow their kibble whole, without even chewing it. IF they do chew, the kibble crumbles, mixes with saliva, and sticks to the gumline, helping to create tartar, not eliminate it. There is no truth to the myth that dry food keeps teeth cleaner.

Cats do suffer from dental disease and require regular examinations of their teeth. Dental disease is painful and causes many other serious health problems.

Remember… all GOLD Well Plans at Noah’s Ark include dental cleaning, nail trims, nutrition and behavior counseling plus much more!

 

dtodd | Uncategorized

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