October 2011 - Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center - San Diego, CA

Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center

4680 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117



October, 2011

October is Obesity Awareness Month

Welcome to the October 2011 newsletter form Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center. Obesity can affect your cat's health in several ways, which is why we want to make you aware of this important issue. Read more below. 

Bayer promotion extended! The Advantage flea control special will continue to be offered until the end of the year. Buy one 4 pack of Advantage ($48.99 +tax) and receive 1 tube FREE! 

Simba and Keebler are still looking for homes. Please consider a needy cat! 

We will be closed Saturday, November 5th, for an employee event. Sorry for any inconvenience. 

National Veterinary Technician Week is October 9-15th. A Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) is an individual who has passed a California state board exam and holds a license, similar to a registered nurse. We honor our RVTs, and our entire care team, by celebrating their commitment to animals and their care. Thank you to every one!

Obesity Awareness Month

Obesity is one of the most preventable diseases in our pets. According to a veterinary survey conducted in 2010 by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 55% of US dogs and 53% of US cats are overweight or obese. Obesity has become one of the top health issues in theUnited States, not just for humans but for pets as well. Obesity in pets has similar repercussions as with humans. Read more below:

Joint Problems: The over-weight cat has to carry an extra load on his or her joints, including the elbows, knees, hips and spine. This extra stress leads to joint degeneration, arthritis and creates pain. A pet in pain will often be less mobile, which perpetuates the cycle of weight gain. Weight management alone will decrease, and can even eliminate, the need for pain medications. 

Diabetes Mellitus: Insulin is a hormone made in the body by the pancreas. Insulin is secrete into the blood stream in response to high blood sugar and helps regulate sugar levels. Excess body fat can lead to insulin resistance whereas insulin is less effective in lowering the blood sugar. In fact, obese cats have been found to have a 50% decrease in insulin sensitivity. Weight management is especially important in decreasing a cat's risk for the development of diabetes mellitus.

Breathing Complications: An overweight pet carries extra inches of fat around its body which forms a constricting girdle around the chest. This makes the pet less able to take deep breaths. More effort is needed to move the chest muscles and therefore, the lungs cannot fully inflate and coughing may result. Additionally, the heart can be encased in a layer of fat that restricts proper function. The pet may also overheat more easily.  

Hepatic Lipidosis: When an overweight cat stops eating or goes partially off food because of illness or psychological stress, body fat is used to provide calories. Unfortunately, the cat's liver can not process the large amount of body fat that entered the body system so quickly. The high level of fat causes the liver to become infiltrated which leads to failure. A stress that might begin as a relatively minor condition, such as a cold, becomes life-threatening. Important: be very careful if changing a diet that you cat continues to eat regularly. If your cat refuses a new diet and stops eating, hepatic lipidosis can develop.

Increased Surgical/Anesthetic Risk: Obesity poses an extra anesthetic risk. With overweight pets, drug dosing becomes less accurate. (It is hard to estimate a patient's lean body mass for drug dosing if it is encased in a fat suit.) Furthermore, anesthesia is inherently suppressive to respiration and adding a constrictive jacket of fat only serves to make proper air exchange more challenging. Additionally, surgery in the abdomen is made difficult by the slippery nature of the extra fat as well as impaired visualization of all the normal structures through the copious fat deposits.

Reduced Life Span: As illustrated by the preceding conditions associated with obesity, it is easy to see how animals kept on the slender side of normal, live a longer, better-quality life with a lower disease incidence.

How do you know if your cat is overweight? Pet owners are often surprised when told that Kitty is not just fluffy, but overweight. The average cat, depending upon the breed, weighs 8-12 pounds. Your cat should have ribs that are easily felt but not seen, a defined waist line that tapers in behind the rib cage and a tucked up abdomen. Visit petobesityprevention.com to learn more about Ideal Weight.  

My cat doesn't really eat that much. How could she be fat? It's often surprising just how little calories a cat needs compared to how many they are actually receiving. A cat often grazes during the day. Owners may fill a bowl with dry food and allow the cat to free-feed at will. Additionally, the cat may be offered canned food and treats in addition to the dry diet. Also, an indoor cat often gets very little exercise. Too many calories and little chance to burn them off makes for a fat cat.

One might think weight management will be easier for a pet than it is for a human. After all, the pet relies completely on the owner for food and exercise. It would seem that if the owner controls feeding and exercise, the pet should lose weight. In reality, as with humans, there is tremendous individuality with how different pets metabolize and store the food they have eaten. There is no one perfect weight management plan.
Here are some factors involved:

A "cup" of food depends on the cup: When food packages refer to a cup of it is referring to an actual measuring cup. This may seem obvious but many mugs, coffee cups, and other scoops may not be equal to a cup measure. One of my favorite stories to explain this is of an overweight lab I used to see at another clinic. The owner swore she only fed 1 cup twice each day to the dog but he kept gaining weight. Finally, we discovered that she was using a 32 ounce Super Big Gulp cup to measure his food! If you do not have proper measuring cup, we can provide you with a free one. Measure carefully! Even a little extra can lead to obesity. One teaspoon of kibbles is approximately 10 additional calories. Feeding one additional teaspoon per day for one year will add an additional pound to your cat! Now think about the extra calories in treats. It adds up quick.

The package guidelines are just guidelines: Commercial food manufacturers usually include a feeding guide on the label that indicates how much food should be fed to a pet of a certain weight. These guidelines are meant as a starting point only. Remember, pet food makers want to sell food so often their guidelines tend towards the higher end of caloric needs. If your pet is too heavy on the recommended feeding amount, then you should reduce the amount of food slightly. Some cats will do better on a diet that is higher in fiber so that a satisfying volume of food can still be eaten without adding calories. Others do better with a higher protein content diet such as canned food. Our veterinarians can help you tailor a diet to fit your cat's specific needs.

Genetics: Some animals are simply predisposed to obesity. Perhaps they do not burn calories efficiently and have a slow metabolism. This may be a genetic factor or the result of an underlying disease. Testing for health problems before starting a weight loss plan is helpful to get the best treatment of obesity. 

Underestimation of the power of treats: Many people express their love by providing treats, and the pet happily obliges by begging or even performing for a reward. For some, offering treats to the pet is so important to the bond they feel with the pet that they are reluctant to stop or reduce it. Tasty treats are often high in calories, though, and four or five treats readily converts into an extra meals worth of added fat.

Where to start: Before starting any weight loss program, a comprehensive physical exam and intense history should be documented. Diagnostic tests are used to rule out health issues that might contribute to obesity. After the initially exam and consultation, the veterinarian will formulate a plan specific to your cat. 

Diet and Exercise:  Control is the key. Of course, if you have only one cat this may be an easier task than in a multi-cat home. Use your ingenuity to feed cats separately. For example, a smaller pet door installed in a bathroom door can keep the chubby cat out of a restricted area, allowing the thin cat in to eat. There are microchip activated doors that restrict access as well. Here is another product that can help keep food separate. Check out Meow Space!
Again, every cat responds a little differently to food changes and it is important to tailor a new feeding routine to the individual. Just feeding less of a regular diet may not be appropriate because the lowered volume may not contain all of the nutrients necessary for a healthy diet. Specially formulated diets are available through your veterinarian to aid in weight loss. Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center carries several prescription varieties in canned and dry to suit your cat's needs and tastes. Our veterinarians can help with a plan for gradual and healthy weight loss.

Feed in multiple small meals: Leaving food out encourages snacking. Feeding in measured meals makes it easier to feed multiple pets different foods or different amounts of food. 

Consider interactive toys: The wild cat will hunt for a large portion of their day and only one out of every 10-15 attempts to snare prey will be successful. This hunting activity is needs to somehow be replicated for the indoor cat. A ball that holds your cat's food and forces kitty to work for the meal can be very helpful. Here is an example. An inexpensive laser pointer, feather toys, cat-nip mice and more can provide additional exercise too. Try for 20 minutes total of exercise per day, split into small sessions of activity. 

Commit to regular weigh ins: At Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center, we are happy to schedule FREE weigh ins, every two weeks, with a technician.

Keep the goal in sight! It is important not to try to lose weight fast. The goal for weight loss in a cat is usually ¼ to ½ pound per month. 

Weight loss is not easy process but the benefits are worth the effort! Call us today to schedule the first step to a healthier, happier feline! 

Dr. Ann D. Middleton
Dr. Michelle R. Metcalf
and your friends at,
Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center