Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network


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Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

We see them in our Animal Hospitals everyday: chubby, roly-poly domestic kitties. And they’re cute when they’re plump with furry tummies that brush the ground so it doesn’t always seem like much of a problem, right??? WRONG! In Canada today it is estimated that at least 20% of cats are overweight and 5% are obese. Although, the numbers don’t seem staggering, (especially when compared with human obesity rates) there are still a few things to be concerned about if your cat is particularly fat. Think for a minute about your cat’s distant wild cousins: the cheetahs, the leopards, the tigers, the lions. Have you ever seen a safari photo of a fat, out-of-shape lion? Do you ever see overweight cheetahs on the Discovery Channel? The answer is a big resounding NO! Cats are never fat in the wild because they wouldn’t survive. Wild cats need to be fit as fiddles in order to chase and take down their swift and powerful prey. A gazelle cannot be caught if the tiger that stalks it is carrying around too much chub around the midsection.

But domestic cats, like the modern, city- or suburban-dwelling humans who own them, do not become obese if they are eating a healthy, species-appropriate diet. When caloric intake is properly balanced with caloric expenditure, it’s a recipe for a long healthy life of scratching, climbing and meowing. But also, like humans, cats tend to overeat when they’re bored, and indoor cats can often find themselves bored starving. But there’s so much more to the story of a cat’s obesity than that.

Here at the Pet Wellness Network, we believe combating feline obesity is an ongoing problem and that’s why we’ve created this ongoing blog series to help you help your cat trim-up and get into shape. Be sure to check back frequently to get tips and tricks about everything you need to know about turning your chubby kitty into a slim cat.

Let’s begin by talking about the food we feed them:

Most cats today are being fed a high-carb dry diet, when a high-protein diet is needed for animals like cats that are naturally carnivorous. They are tricked into thinking it’s delicious and just what their bodies need because pet food manufacturers sneakily coat the kibble with enticing aromas, making the food very palatable even though its fraught with inferior ingredients. The poor, duped kitties keep eating long after they’re full because the flavours just won’t let them quit.

Another reason why some cats tend to consume too many dry food calories is because an obligate carnivore is designed to be satiated when he’s consumed an adequate amount of protein and fat.  Carbohydrates don’t send their brains the same “I’m full” signal, thus causing them to overeat. Carbohydrates in excess can wreak havoc on many cats’ glycemic (blood sugar) balance and as the dry food makes them obese, their fat cells begin secreting substances that cause insulin resistance that can lead to a costly and painful risk of diabetes. Also, cats do not have the enzymatic pathways in their systems that are necessary to efficiently utilize high levels of dietary carbohydrates. But grains are cheaper than meats, so many cat foods have lots of ‘em because it means a bigger profit margin. Also, carnivores need proteins that come from other animals, and many brands of cat food contain proteins from plants, which is not the same and not nearly as efficient for a cat’s digestive system.

A great way to ensure your cat is consuming a quality cat food is to consult your local Pet Wellness Network veterinarian about feline veterinary diets. These diets are great for dental health and packed with all the vitamins and nutrients and proteins that your cat needs, without the nasty fillers.

Be sure to check back again soon for more tips and tricks for healthy felines.

 

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