Losing Weight Benefits Your Cat’s Health

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The following article is courtesy of our partner, Banfield Pet Hospital. Used with permission.

Kim Nguyen

Since I have worked at Banfield Pet Hospital for several years, I’ve definitely learned how preventive care needs in pets parallel the preventive care needs in humans. This became especially evident when comparing my efforts to get my cat Gidget to lose weight and my own efforts to lose weight.

Overweight cats and weightloss

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Weight loss has always been my main concern with Gidget. Since I adopted her, she’s had few illnesses. But for the first two years that I took her to Banfield, reports from her comprehensive exam always had the “Overweight” box as checked. Just like most women, I also worry about my own weight. Working in an office and living in a city of constant rain lends themselves well for a sedentary lifestyle. Making Gidget lose weight meant I had to make some major life changes in her just like I had to do for myself.

Both Gidget and I like to eat, but we had to practice portion control. For Gidget, this meant that she would no longer be allowed to graze from her food bowl and was switched to only eating twice a day. After months of her vocalizing her distress and her inability to understand why she couldn’t eat as much as she wanted, she came to understand that she had a new routine and only begged for food around the times that she would be fed.

I am a potato-chip addict, and I have been known to graze on chips of all kinds throughout the day. For me, her desire to graze all day was the same as me controlling my cravings for junk food. I realized that I didn’t need to snack as much between meals and definitely not late at night. Once I had set my mind to eating less chips, candy and fast food, I eventually became used to not eating them and sometimes I could feel the negative effects of eating these items through decreased energy. I still enjoy the occasional basket of fries just like Gidget enjoys tuna, but I don’t make them part of my regular diet just like I don’t make tuna a regular part of Gidget’s diet.

Exercise also became an important of our routines. When I first started using play as an exercise for Gidget, I noticed that she would pant after only a few minutes. She wasn’t used to exerting herself, especially with her extra weight. Once she lost weight, Gidget was more eager to play. I made a point in finding time once or twice a week to play and get her to run around my apartment. She even got excited when I would bring out her favorite mouse on a string. She knew that meant I would be dragging that mouse around the house for quite a while.

This was the same for me. I had struggled with finding a workout routine that I liked. I tried multiple videos and treadmills. I eventually found a workout class at a local community center, and I’ve been going to that same class for the last two years. For the first few months, I was struggling in the class, but eventually, just like with Gidget, I found an enjoyable workout, got into the routine and actually liked working out.

Much of what Gidget needed was what I needed: routine. We also benefited in the same way: healthier weight and decreased risk of illness. While Gidget can’t be as proud as I am for my decreasing jeans size, at least I know that I have probably added years to her life.

For Banfield’s resources on nutrition and weight control, check out the Nutrition section of Banfield’s website.

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