DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My cat “Frank” has been classified as obese by the veterinarian. Frank doesn’t look that fat, and he moves around fine and plays a lot. How can the vet call him obese? Trying to get him to exercise more doesn’t work, either.
– Susan J., Phoenix
DEAR SUSAN: Cats, like people, sometimes put on weight so gradually that it’s the scale that sounds the first warning, rather than looks or lack of activity. Frank may not seem too fat, and he gets around just fine, but that good health won’t last if the weight stays on him.
He has quite a bit in his favor. It sounds like Frank is a healthy cat who stays active. You can encourage this activity by increasing the amount of time you play with him — if you dangle a cat toy in front of Frank for five minutes every hour so, increase that to 10 minutes each time.
It’s also very important to follow the dietary guidelines set down by the veterinarian. Usually a pet diet involves reducing the amount of calories taken in each day. That means serving smaller portions at feeding time. Food treats must be avoided as well, so the extra calories don’t go straight to your cat’s midsection.
Keeping Frank’s weight down now will help prolong not only his life, but the quality of that life. Being obese will eventually lead to a host of expensive health problems — diet and exercise cost mostly time and patience.