A Fat Cat’s New Year’s Resolution

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - January 18, 2012
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As we enter 2012, many individuals cling to the hope that this will be the year that they will hold true to an oftenpracticed tradition: the New Year’s resolution.

Most resolutions revolve around physical fitness, whether it’s to lose weight or gain muscle. Admittedly, I have failed countless times in my own attempts at acquiring sculpted abs.

Although pets don’t have a desire to adhere to this tradition, their owners sometimes subject them to the arduous task. Such was the case with Fred and his 22-pound cat Oscar.

At the turn of the new year, Fred moseyed in with his “slightly” overweight buddy Oscar. Over the course of several years, Oscar had gained an average of 2 pounds per year. I warned Fred that the added weight would put Oscar at risk for a variety of health problems.

“I don’t know what to say, Doc,” started Fred. “Oscar gets regular meals but I don’t feed him that much. Since he’s an indoor cat, he lacks exercise. He doesn’t get to chase mice or birds to help him work off the calories.”

His response was not surprising. Many owners have tried to exercise their cats without much success. Still, it was my duty to impress upon Fred the importance of keeping Oscar trim. A recent study showed that obesity could reduce a pet’s life by up to two years.

After a lengthy discussion, we set forth a plan that included a special weight-loss diet and various forms of exercise. We wanted to avoid sudden, drastic weight loss since it can actually be detrimental to Oscar’s liver. Six months later, Fred returned with Oscar.

As we awaited the digital readout on the cat scale, I noticed that Oscar looked much thinner. Fred’s effort had paid off: Oscar lost 4 pounds, and weighed in at 18 pounds. He could still lose a little more weight, but he was off to a great start. Both the results and method used by Fred took me by surprise.

“First of all, Doc, Oscar did not like that special food. He just wouldn’t eat it, so I gave in and offered him his original diet. I tried to get Oscar to chase a variety of cat toys, but he just stared as I waved them around frantically. I think I got more of a workout than he did. He did chase the laser pointer, but that would only last for the first 10 seconds, then he would just walk away.”

“So how did you get Oscar to lose the weight?” I asked.

Fred smiled. “I trained Oscar to walk on a treadmill,” he said. “It took over a week to get him used to the sound of the treadmill and the moving parts, but soon he got the hang of it. Now I walk him on the treadmill for about 20 minutes each night. Of course, I don’t run him too fast, just a slow steady walk.”

I was truly amazed at what Fred had accomplished. Training a cat to walk on a treadmill takes a lot of time and patience.

Later we set a goal for Oscar, and Fred planned to come in to weigh him regularly.

Fred helped his buddy lose weight to optimize a good, long life. The Wild Side wishes you luck in your New Year’s resolution. May you achieve success and avoid “cat-astrophe.”

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