Pet Obesity Day - Meet one of the heaviest cats our team has ever seen
Blue is one fat cat. One of the most obese felines our SPCA staff in Christchurch had ever seen.
Every year, tens of thousands of animals come through SPCA’s doors, and as October 13 is World Pet Obesity Day – it’s a timely warning for pet owners to remember to rein in their generosity when it comes to sharing food with furry friends.
This super-sized cat wasn’t receiving the care he needed and his owners were slowly killing him with kindness. Blue arrived in SPCA’s care morbidly obese, stepping on the scales at a whopping 12.6kg - over double the weight he should be.
Being overweight or obese is a major health concern for pets and – surprisingly to a lot of people - it’s the number one health issue for companion animals in New Zealand. Like their human counterparts, an overweight animal’s health concerns are just as serious as an animal who is underweight.
Blue’s obesity wasn’t the result of one or two snacks here and there, but consistent and ongoing overfeeding. He’d clearly been snacking up a storm for much of his life.
As a result, Blue couldn’t do the basic things every cat should. His heavy weight held him back from being healthy and happy.
When pets get too hefty, their life expectancy gets shorter. Not only does their excess weight impact their general health, but it also reduces their quality of life.
Blue gains his life back
Over the following 12 months, Blue went into foster care and was put on an intensive weight loss programme to shed the unwanted pounds. His weight was managed in consultation with an SPCA vet, and he was fed a specialised Purina diet twice a day, with smaller portion sizes.
Blue slowly began to drop weight and showed wonderful signs of improvement. Not only has he lost over a third of his body weight, but the change to his personality is significant.
Once he was given the all-clear by SPCA’s vet team, Blue was able to continue his weight loss journey in a new home and has been happily adopted. He’s now thriving with his forever family, and they are carefully managing his diet and weight – something that will remain a priority for the rest of his life.
A growing issue in New Zealand's pets
Unfortunately, Blue’s situation is not unique. SPCA sees overweight cats come into our Centres more regularly than we’d like. A recent study into people’s pets found around 28 percent of dogs and 24 percent of cats In New Zealand were at an unhealthy weight.
Health complications suffered by overweight pets can include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, respiratory distress, high blood pressure, and cancers. It can also impact their ability to express natural behaviours such as grooming and mobility.
Small changes can make the biggest difference
Pet owners can have a positive impact on their pet’s health by understanding that weight is one of the most influential factors of longevity, quality of life, and disease prevention.
Thankfully, while pet obesity is a big problem, it can be managed in small ways. After learning what their furry friend’s ideal weight and food requirements are in consultation with their vet, pet owners should measure or weigh the amount of pet food that is being given to curb any cravings. Without measuring, it is easy to overfeed them
To help prevent obesity in pets, it's essential to maintain a healthy diet and receive plenty of exercise. Many owners show love for their pets through food. Often this is a case of killing with kindness - most animals would instead enjoy playing or interacting with their owner just as much as getting a treat!