HOW MANY CALORIES IN A MOUSE, DOC?
One of my favorite sayings is “you have to move more than you eat”. Well, that applies to cats too! When cats were chasing mice for food their calorie intake was balanced by the calories expended in the chase. But nowadays that has changed — now our cats are “couch-potatoes” too!
As a feline veterinarian I see more overweight cats than ever: feline health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are on the rise.
WHAT factors contribute to our “fat cats:?
1) Cats are being kept indoors to protect them from cars, predators and poisons. However this results in decreased exercise and needing fewer calories.
2) Cats are notorious “nibblers” – they like to eat frequently, and their owners love the convenience of leaving dry food in the bowl. Owners assume cats will “eat as much as they need”, BUT in fact 60-70% of today’s cats will overeat (above their energy requirements). Often these overeaters started life as strays, undernourished kittens, or rescues, and perhaps they never trust they’ll get enough.
3) Most cat food manufacturers haven’t kept up with the times.Yet another factor influencing the fat cat trend is that many cat food manufacturers haven’t kept up with the times. Some cat foods contain almost twice the calories of what most indoor cats need “per cup”. Imagine trying to lose weight by eating twice as much! No wonder our cats keep piling on the pounds. One newer food on the market has a very cute label with a cat in the clouds. This food not only has very high calories but the company refuses to share the nutritional information on request. Beware such diets, no matter how “cute” the packaging.
For those of you who think your cat might be overweight, check with your veterinarian. You can also access www.PetFit.com for tips on how to tell if your pet is overweight.
Next time we will address the health risks of obesity in cats, and various tips and suggestions on how we can help our feline friends counteract this very real danger.
P.S. Average mouse = 30 calories. Cats should eat the equivalent of 7-10 mice per day. If your cat food is more than 300 calories per cup you may wish to check with your veterinarian for a better food!
By Dr. Sherry Zenor of Angel Cats, a veterinary housecall service exclusively for cats. ( www.AngelCats.net )