I attended the annual Colorado State University Conference for Veterinarians this weekend. It’s nice to touch base with people who know the latest trends in the profession.
Dr. Deb Lovan of Texas A & M University gave a most interesting lecture on obesity in cats. She began by asking how many of us in the audience had an obese cat. Most raised their hands. I did not. I have 45 pounds of cat, but it is divided up by three huge felids. Frank is the biggest cat by far at 16.5 pounds. I do not think he is fat. He is huge.
Many people deny that their cats are too fat. Dr. Lovan had some new ideas to share regarding feline obesity, much of which transfers to human medicine.
Of course, the bottom line of weight reduction is to expend more calories than are taken in. In our indoor kitty couch potato society, this is difficult to do. What struck home to me is that it has been proven definitively that obesity is an endocrine disorder as well as an inflammatory disorder. You don’t cure obese patients, you manage them. Wow.
The human patient has many disorders related to obesity. Obesity leads to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, osteoarthritis and autoimmune diseases. This is because fat cells are very metabolically active. They produce a wide range of metabolic and hormonal phenomena.
After years of telling my clients that buying a can of cat food is buying a can of 80% water, Dr. Lovan recommends canned diets to increase water intake, and specific feeding time. My cats have always had dry food fed free choice.
The main factor in foods whether wet or dry is that the protein content should be equal to or greater than 50% dry matter (DM), and the carbohydrate content as low as possible. If your cat is a renal failure patient, it still needs a low protein diet.
Check out your cat food labels for dry matter content of nutrients. “As fed” is not the same content as dry matter. If you can’t find the DM content, go online and get the specific counts from the manufacturer’s website. Work with your veterinarian to find a better dietary plan for your chunky kitty.