Chattapets: Trim down fat cats with diet, exercise

Chattapets: Trim down fat cats with diet, exercise

February 7th, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Chattapets

In this file photo, Connie Fleming, a veterinary technician at the Animal Medical Center of Fort Oglethorpe, helps Dice the cat lose weight through exercise and diet.

ADOPT-ATHONS

Feb. 11-13, this Friday through Sunday, is PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend. The goal is to find homes for more than 17,000 pets in need of homes nationwide. The local stores will feature animals from the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga, McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center and Cats Are Reason Enough. The Hixson PetSmart store is at 5591 Highway 153 (phone, 874-0188). The East Brainerd location is at 2130 Gunbarrel Road (899-9233).

There are a lot of big dogs out there, but there are even more tubby kitties, according to a 2009 study.

The evaluation of pet obesity conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 21.4 percent of the 93.6 million cats in the United States are obese, compared to 8.6 percent of the country's 77.5 million dogs.

That comes as no surprise to Marcia Toumayan, a veterinarian at the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga.

"Weight control in cats can be quite a challenge because they're not always the most active creatures," she said. "They do love their leisure and their sleep."

Particularly later in life, fat felines can face many of the same problems -- increased risk of diabetes, arthritis and joint problems -- as their overweight owners, Toumayan said.

To help slim down their cats, Toumayan offered these tips.

• Know the cat's preferred play style. Include the cat's favorite activity (chasing something across the floor, toys, etc.) into play sessions. Laser pointers are a particular favorite with many cats and allow owners to sit in a chair while exercising their pet.

• Supply more meat. When purchasing food, check the guaranteed analysis on the back of the bag for the protein level. Buy foods that have a protein level of at least 40 percent. Kitten foods are generally higher percentage and can be a good alternative to grain- and carbohydrate-heavy adult recipes.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphil lips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.