You might have read our post on feline obesity a few months ago. If you did, you saw our housecat, Diamond, showing off his rather rotund figure. Diamond hit an all-time high weight of nearly 16 pounds and was scored as a seven out of nine on the Body Condition Scale (which made him officially obese!) around Thanksgiving of 2011, so we knew we had to take action.
Diamond’s weight loss plan
After Diamond’s shocking weigh-in, a diet plan was made based on a target weight of about 15 pounds. Because he is a master at stealing food from other cats, our technicians had to make sure all cats were fed in the back of their cages, and that Diamond was never around during morning and evening treatment times, when food is often out on counters.
Once his diet was restricted, Diamond lost weight very quickly; his first two weekly weigh-ins showed a steep drop in weight–from his initial weight of 16 pounds to 14.94 in a few weeks! This sharp downward curve brought us to the realization that our little guy was far better at stealing food from our patients than we’d realized, as we’d been fairly conservative with his diet. His weight loss leveled off after that–he’s been losing a healthy 0.2 pounds a week since his initial few weigh-ins. To date, Diamond has lost 1.75 pounds!
Obstacles Diamond faces on his journey:
Weight loss is never easy, and Diamond has been very vocal about his struggles! Not only is he a master at stealing food from patients, Diamond has also been known to nab Sadie’s breakfast and coax treats out of employees and clients alike. In order to prevent him from excessive snacking, we have to feed him in an exam room, while Archie eats in his favorite cage and Sadie in an upstairs office. To prevent him from complaining to the front desk staff constantly, a portion of his allotted food is set aside as “treats” to be doled out throughout the day.
Because Diamond is a very skilled food thief, everyone in the office needs to be on their toes! He’s managed to sneak into food supplies a few times, both by stealing from patients and by ripping into bags of food for sale, and Sadie has definitely had her breakfast stolen once or twice, but for the most part, we’ve managed to prevent episodes of thievery.
Diamond’s inactive lifestyle is also a contributing factor. When he first came to us, Diamond was obsessed with playing fetch. He would chase a toy mouse for hours! These days, he’s much less active; he’ll play for a few minutes at a time every once in a while, but his activity level is nowhere near what it used to be. We’ve been making him chase his kibble “treats” by tossing one piece at a time down the hall, and we’ve discovered he loves a particular wand toy, so that is used to engage him in small bursts of exercise. We try to get him to run around for a few minutes at a time several times daily to increase his metabolism.
As of today, Diamond weighs 14.3 pounds, which is the lightest he’s been in years. Our hope is to get him down to about 12.5 pounds, though we will re-assess his goal weight at each weigh-in.
Why we’re publicly embarrassing our handsome friend
We see overweight and obese cats on a daily basis. We try our best to stress to owners how important it is to get their kitties to a healthy weight, but we’re often met with resistance due to a variety of circumstances. Some of the reasons people are resistant to dieting their cats include feeding more than one cat, having a cat used to eating all day long, having a very vocal cat who begs for food, changing feeding schedules from once daily or all day to several times daily, and fears that their cat will resent them. Some people even prefer their cats chunky because they feel it’s cute, despite knowing this excess weight is harmful. We hope that sharing Diamond’s story (and demonstrating that he’s adorable at any weight!) will help people who are hesitant about weight control feel confident that they can manage it.
We will be updating everyone on Diamond’s weight loss journey from time to time. We think it’s important for cat owners to realize it can be done, regardless of how many cats are in your household or how much your kitty loves to eat!