Feline Weight-Loss Diets Can be Fatal

February 16, 2015

One of my weekly tasks is to read the Consumer Affairs website for complaints about pet food.  Last week, there was a message from a lady writing about her overweight Maine Coon cat.  At 28 lbs., he was a big boy, but Maine Coons are a large breed.  Only her veterinarian would have known for sure if he really needed to lose weight.

Instead of visiting her veterinarian, she sought advice from a store employee at a well-known Big Box pet store.  With advice from that employee, the lady changed her cat’s food and place him on a diet to lose weight.  In one month, he lost 17 lbs.  The cat subsequently suffered liver failure and after the fact, the lady contacted her vet.

Cats are not like humans!  You cannot put them on a diet without medical guidance. Feline diets must be meticulously balanced to avoid loss of vital nutrients and to ward off serious illness.  Losing too much weight too quickly is a sure way to create health problems.

Retail store employees are trained to sell merchandise.  Over time, they may gain some knowledge of pet nutrition, but they are not usually trained to dole out veterinary advice.

Studies have shown that over 50% of cats in America are overweight.  Those extra pounds can lead to diabetes, joint problems, skin, heart and liver conditions.  Keeping kitty in shape is crucial to her good health and longevity, but this can be accomplished in many cases without actual dieting.

First of all,  cats need a diet of mostly wet food, rather than all dry kibble.  Along with providing extra liquid in the diet, wet – or canned – food is likely to be lower in calories.  Try to condition your pet to eating both wet and dry cat food.  More exercise is crucial to losing and maintaining weight.  This can be accomplished with more human interactive play.

Try such methods before placing your cat on an actual weight loss diet and if that doesn’t work, visit the vet!

You will notice on this website that I am happy to share my opinions about pet-related subjects, but I always tell readers to seek advice from their veterinarians before making changes to their pets’ diets.  Every animal is different and breeds differ in nutritional requirements.  It pays to listen to the real experts – your veterinarian.


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