It is all too easy to confuse overfeeding your pet with demonstrating
love and affection. But a fat cat is not likely to remain a healthy cat or a happy cat, if its lifestyle is curtailed through
Cats are increasingly becoming obese.
Surveys suggest that as much as 30-50 per cent of feline population is overweight. Obesity is potentially dangerous for your
pet, just as it is for humans. It can also detract from a cat's enjoyment of life by cutting down on its mobility and energy
levels. Fat cats may make popular cartoon characters, but once a cat has put on weight, you will not find it easy to slim
him down. So prevention is better than cure.
Cats breeds vary in weight from slimline singapura, normally less
than 2.7kg/6lb, to the massive maine coon, the heaviest breed, which tips the scales at 8kg/18lb. Whatever its noemal weight,
a cat may gain and lose weight in cycles, over a number of months. That is nothing to worry about, but if your cat startes
packing on the pounds on a permanent basis that calls for action. It is reasonably easy to determine whether your cat is overweight
by feeling for its ribs. If these are not discernable, your cat could do with losing some weight.
Start by cutting out all treats. Read the feeding instructions
carefully on your pet's food, and stick to the guidelines, which are usually quite generous. One of the drawbacks of leaving
out a supply of dry food is that a cat may eat more or less constantly throughtout the day. Furthermore, if a cat is kept
indoors for long periods in a warm environment, its energy requirements are minimal, and it is not surprising that over
a period of time it will put on weight.
As with humans who are on a weight-loss
programme, the slimming cat must be weighed regularly.
Putting your cat on a diet is not easy because if he feels deprived
of his normal rations he is likely to go scrounging and seek out a sympathetic neighbour. Solutions may be either to keep
your pet permanently indoors for a period, where you can strictly control his intake, or to book him into a cattery where
hid food intake can be monitored. Since most cats do not eat straightaway in unfamiliar surroundings, this may be a useful
starting point for a serious weight-loss campaign.
SURGERY AND OBESITY
Neutering has a definite impact on your cat's weight. It is likely
to increase over the months if you do not lessen the food intake. Hormonal changes predispose towards obesity. Neutered toms,
for example, will remain much closer to home, take less exercise and burn up fewer calories than intact male cats. It is usually
recommended to cut back the amount of food given to your pet, possibly by up to 50 per cent, although you must consult your
vet first. Your cat's activity levels need to be increased, so encourage him to be more playful.
DID YOU KNOW ?
?Table scraps are not recommended for cats
because they tend to be nutritionally unbalanced, unlike commercial cat food. A failure to follow this advice may well result
?You can weigh your cat quite easily by encouraging
him to sit on bathroom scales. If he refuses, simply pick him up and note your combined weights, before subtracting your own.
?Only by keeping written records can you chart
your cats progress reliably remember a fat cat is not always a happy one
PAMPERING YOUR CAT
A contented kitten snoozes in the luxury of cosy velvet cushions.
Cats appreciate the attention paid to their comfort, and since they sleep so much, they like the warmest and softest bed possible.
Cats being sensual animals they are
, they respond well to all forms of pampering, whether expressed through treats, toys, their creature comforts or diet. By
choosing carefully how to pamper your cat, you can strengthen the emotional bond between the two of you, at the same time,
increase your cats wellbeing. Some pampering, how ever good the intentions, can spill over into spoiling, and this is not
to the cat's advantage.
When choosing something special for your cat, be discerning. Not
all items on the market are ideal for cats. As a rule of thumb, stick to those which allow a cat to pursue its natural behaviour.
Climping frames and tunels are often popular, while a scratching block enables the cat to keep its claws in trim and lessen
the risk of damage to furniture at the sametime. There are also some interesting scratching posts made from string-wrapped
poles positioned beween a series of platforms. Underneath each platform are felt mobiles for the cat to bat around. The structure
encourages the cat to exercise and trim its claws, and provides hours of enjoyment for you both.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements for your cat, there are
several snug alteratives apart from your own bed. A basket lined with a fleece is real luxury, as is the hammock-style bed
which attaches to a radiator. Obviously if you use this option, check that the radiator is not too hot for comfort. It will
appeal to cats especially during the winter months when warmth is much appreciated. However, a bean bag may be more suitable
for older cats It allows them to stretch out comfortably, and is easy on painful joints. A comfortable bed should also help
prevent your cat adopting one of your armchairs for its naps
This cossetted cat finds its owner's
chair and cushion the perfect place for a catnap.
Food is one of the most popular ways in which affection is expressed,
and in terms of diet the opportunities for pampering your cat are greater than ever. There are now available special lifestage
diet that have been carefully formulated to supply all the vital nutrients a cat needs at all its various ages, from kittenhood
through to old gae. It is also possible to obtain foods that have been supplemented with herbs, while individual portion sizes
mean that these formulaic products do not prestent any storage problems sfter opening. Some cat owners may feel that a healthy
way to pamper a pet is to feed it on fresh food. In fact, a cat will get a diet that is better balanced and suited to its
needs from formula pet foods .By all means give a cat fresh food, but always in moderation, and it should be well cooked rather
than given to the animal raw.
IN THE MOOD
Possibly the best know of all plants which appeal to cats is catnip,
or cat mint (Nepeta cataria). However, the appeal of this herb is not clearly understood. It may be because it contains a
drug allied to cannabis-nepetalactone. Certainly cats of both sexes display a sence of well-being when in contact with this
plant. Even wild cats, including tigers, roll over and become relaxed. Not all cats, respond and kittens seem immune to it
charms. Cat toys contain various forms of the herb.
DID YOU KNOW ?
?One of the easiest ways to pamper a cat is
to gently stroke it from head to tail along its back. This massage will improve its circulation and skin tone, especially
if done regularly.
?You need to be careful not to overdo giving
a cat treats fortified with vitamins . If the animal is eating a balanced diet, they won't be necessary.
?Some cat treats help to clean their teeth,
and prevent a build up od tartar, which inflames the gum line and weakens teeth.
?As cats get older, they get bonier and will
want to sit on your lap less because they find it uncomfortable.
TOYS AND CATS
When choosing a toy, avoid anything that squeaks as cats and kittens
have sensitive hearing and the noise is hard on their ears. A ball with a bell inside will be well received by inquisitive
When a cat or kitten plays, it is practising
its hunting skills. Any toys that you provide become substitute prey. A domesticated cat no longer needs to hunt or patrol
its territory on order to survive, but the instinct and drive for such behaviour is still there. By encouraging your cat or
kitten to play regularly with a variety of objects you will keep your cat emotionally and physically healthy and also provide
an antidote to boredom.
Much of kitten and cats play is actually hunting practice. The
same swipe he takes at the piece of string being dangled playfully in front of his nose might catch him a bird if used in
the wild. Likewise, the patting or scooping actions he used when he pursues and tackles a tightly rolled up piece of paper
or tin foil might reward him with a mouse or fish in other circumstances.
Kittens are driven by curiosity They
will find their own toys and in doing this will develop adult skills.
Cats and kittens like toddlers and young children, are excellent
at improvising and are quick to spot the play potential of the objects around them. Their own tails are an excellent example
of this, and an immediate source of fun. A bout of tail chasing is a sure sign that your cat is feeling happy and in a playful
mood. Cats derive as much benefit from exploring a cardboard box, getting tangled up in a ball of wool, chewing the end of
a pencil or patting at the counter from a board game as they do from purpose-bought toys. Encouraging them to play therefore,
need tax nothing more than your ingenuity.
If you do decide you want to treat your cat to somthing special,
choose a toy that is light and moves quickly and easily. Cats particularly like playthings with such features, which is why
ping-pong balls are always firm favourites with them. Don't choose anything that is likely to be too heavy for them to move
they'll quickly lose interest. Cats also respond well to smell, sound and texture. Most love the scent of catnip, a herb that
can be grown at home quite easily. Catnip has a powerful attraction for cats, especially when it is dried. The dried herb
or an extract of the herb is used to fill toys that are made for cats. These toys cause great excitement and stimulate the
cat to exercise natural responses that would be used when a cat catches its pray. Do make sure that the toys you provide are
safe, with no sharp edges or loose parts that can be swallowed.
This cat is making the most of a cat
gym specially designed to give felines the opportunity to play.
Cats that are confined to the house may become stressed and bored.
In this case a cat gym may help to provide them with exercise and stimulation they need. Cat gyms usually consist of scraching
post with toys attached. Some have a carpet-covered platform on top. As well as giving them a means to play, they provide
cats with opportunity to keep their claws in trim, a place to clamber and vantage point from which to survey the world.
DID YOU KNOW
?The colour of a toy means little to a cat.
However, you may find brightly coloured items useful since they are easy to find when the cat has lost them.
?By giving your cat a toy filled with dried
catnip, you will be ensuring that your cat exercises its olfactory lobes.
?Cats react to sound and texture. Toys with
bells or raised patterns on their surfaces are therefore a good choice.