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C2004-45

Dear Christopher Cat

Tigger, my five-year-old cat, is overweight. He is my only cat and he stays inside, so I can monitor the amount of food he eats.

I try to get him to exercise, but he still doesn’t lose weight. Do you have other suggestions?

Christopher Responds

You have two goals: to increase Tigger’s energy expenditure and to decrease his caloric intake. Let’s look at exercise first.

Buy some exercise toys, such as a feather on a fishing pole. I would chase my feather toy all night if I could get Mom to run around the house with it that long.

If Tigger doesn’t like such cat toys, get him running by shining a laser pointer around the room or tossing pieces of cat food down the hall.

Hide his food in several places around the house so he has to hunt for it. Put kibble into a ball with holes that spill the food when he bats the ball around.

Tigger should eat prescription weight loss food only, so he gets adequate nutrients despite the substantial caloric restriction.

Talk with your veterinarian about whether to feed the traditional low fat, high fiber diet or the “CAtkins” high protein, low carbohydrate, moderate fat diet.

We cats like to nibble every hour or two, so feed Tigger several times per day. Use a measuring cup to ensure consistent portion control.

Weigh Tigger on a baby scale every week. If he isn’t losing weight, decrease the amount you feed by 25 percent until he is losing about 1.0 to 1.5 percent of his initial body weight every week (i.e., about a quarter of a pound per week for a 20-pound cat.)

Once he reaches his goal weight, maintain it with a prescription or over-the-counter low calorie diet.

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