How to combat that fat on the cat

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Fat cats may be funny in cartoons but in real life the growing number of overweight or obese cats is no laughing matter.

Fat cats face health risks

Monkey is a big loaf of love but that can be uncomfortable when picked up because she is overweight.

Fat felines are more prone to diabetes, liver disease, lameness and chronic skin conditions. Dental disease, and urinary tract issues are more common and obese cats are at risk if they require anesthesia or surgery. Their immune function is decreased, their mobility may be poor, and they have decreased exercise and heat tolerance.

Monkey is a good candidate for qualifying as overweight.

Here’s how to gauge:

  • Gently squeeze the sides of your cat’s rib cage. If you can easily feel the ribs, she’s probably not overweight. If you have to press to get at the ribs, she’s too heavy
  • Look at your cat’s waistline. Her body should become more slender from the belly to hindquarters. Not happening on Monkey
  • Finally, a swinging pouch between your cat’s hind legs is an indication your cat is overweight.

Slimming down a cat can be tricky. Most important is to know what not to do. Don’t put your cat on a crash diet. Cutting your fat cat’s food intake suddenly and dramatically puts her at high risk for hepatic lipidosis, also known as “fatty liver disease.” That can kill your cat.

Instead, get your veterinarian’s help in figuring out how much food to feed, when to feed it and what kind of diet to provide. Then praise with affection and exercise.

Use a fishing pole for 10 minutes to get her moving.

Try a laser light. Exercise helps preserve your cat’s lean body mass so what gets lost is fat, not muscle.

And be patient. It can take up to a year or more to safely shrink an obese cat. But it’s worth it, both in better health and in how much happier your cat will be with the agile and active body every cat deserves.