SPCA New Zealand

Pet obesity awareness: Harry’s story

11 October 2023

Too often at SPCA we see emaciated animals, but animals also suffer on the other extreme end of the weight spectrum. Despite obesity being just as serious a threat to their welfare, their condition doesn’t spark nearly the same outrage. This Pet Obesity Day, meet Harry, a cat whose huge weight loss journey is happening under the care of our Dunedin Centre right now.

Pet obesity awareness: Harry’s story

Big boy, big welfare issue

When our SPCA Dunedin team first met Harry the cat in August, they could scarcely believe their eyes. “We see overweight cats from time to time, but it’s not often one Harry’s size comes through our doors,” SPCA Feline Lead Emma says. “The poor boy was absolutely huge, and the look in his eyes was so defeated.”

Harry tipped the scales at 11.72kg – almost three times the healthy weight that he should have been. Our team knew that he needed help, but bringing his weight down wasn’t something we can do quickly.

Thankfully, the team over at Purina were here to help him, just like they are for all the animals that come through our doors. After initial assessments to make sure there was nothing other than his extreme weight causing Harry suffering or which required urgent medical attention, we made a plan for Harry to get started on his weight loss journey. Rapid weight loss in cats is really dangerous, so it’s important that weight loss is carefully managed, and this is where Purina can help.

Obese cat in SPCA
Harry on the day he arrived at SPCA, weighing 11.72kg

Setting Harry on the right path

Thanks to the support of Purina who feed the cats and dogs of SPCA, we didn’t hesitate in starting Harry on a premium diet. Their PRO PLAN range is developed to address specific health issues that affect cats and can be managed through diet. One of those is obesity, and we knew this was just the thing Harry needed.

The team got Harry onto a new diet of the Purina PRO PLAN Obesity Management, a mixture of dry food and wet food. Harry needed to stay in the Centre for the first couple of weeks, and our team was amazed to see him lose 1kg in his first fortnight. He still has a very long way to go, but it’s been a promising start, and one that made the next step possible...

Harry moved into foster care in September, and is going to remain in a foster home until he is deemed healthy enough for adoption. It will likely be many months before we get to this stage, but thanks to the support of our amazing foster community and Purina who are making sure Harry gets the diet and nutrition he needs to lose weight, we know this boy’s future is bright.

In the meantime, he will be able to enjoy the love of dedication of a home environment and its human inhabitants!

Obese cat in SPCA care
Harry in our Centre, and in his foster home

Pet obesity awareness

No animal gets themselves to a condition like Harry’s on their own. Obesity in animals almost always results from owners overfeeding them. Although often not caused by a lack of care or love, it is a clear example of suffering caused by humans. Overfeeding is killing too many animals, whose life expectancies are shortened as their weight goes up and they are at ever higher risk of developing associated health conditions.

Like in humans, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, respiratory distress, high blood pressure, and cancers are all conditions which can develop from dangerously excessive weight.

If wanting to confirm whether your cat or dog is a healthy weight, have a look at the guides from Purina that we use in our own SPCA Centres here. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns, and if you see a friend or family member overfeeding their pets, it is important to talk to them about this. People very rarely know they are causing harm to their animals by overfeeding them, so getting this conversation started is key!

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