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C2007-27

Dear Christopher Cat

Misty, my 2-year-old cat, is getting fat. She is spayed, so I know she’s not pregnant. Could her problem be an underactive thyroid gland?

Christopher Responds

I doubt it. I suspect she is eating too much and exercising too little.

We cats rarely develop hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid gland. As we age, we’re much more likely to suffer from hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid, which causes weight loss.

Conversely, dogs, who seem backward in so many ways, are far more likely to develop hypothyroidism than hyperthyroidism.

To reduce Misty’s enlarging waistline, gradually discontinue her canned food, because it’s easy to overindulge on it, and transition her to a low calorie dry food.

Experiment to find a dry food she likes but doesn’t love, so she’s less likely to overeat.

Hide small amounts of cat food around the house and make Misty hunt for her dinner. Unfortunately, this technique won’t work if you have dogs, who have no manners and will eat whatever they find.

Don’t offer Misty cat treats or human food.

Encourage Misty to exercise with interactive toys. My favorite is a fishing pole with a feather or crinkly toy on the end. My brother Dougie likes to chase the laser pointer.

Start now, before Misty gains more weight. With your help, she can slim down and enjoy a long, healthy life.

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