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Is My Cat Fat?

Dear Kismet:

I have four cats, Cookie, Molly, Salem, and Napoleon. Salem is a mixed breed. He looks like a Bombay. He is about 17 pounds; I wanted to know if he was fat. If he is I don't know how to make him lose weight because my other cats are very skinny. How should I take the food away from him and not the other cats without putting him in a separate room?

Dear Cat Lover:

I hope we might have some ideas and suggestions to help Salem lose weight and help your other kitties that sound like they are maybe a little too thin.

First, you should have them all checked by your veterinarian to be sure there are not any underlying health issues causing Salem's extra pounds that might require more than just reducing his calorie intake. Also, there may be other problems with your thin cats that might be interfering with them maintaining their weight on the correct amount of food.

Once we have ruled out any health problems, we would want to find ways to get Salem moving around more, maybe with the laser light toy (avoid shining in his or the other catsí eyes). What about one of the feather toys to help him get some more exercise? Ideally, if you could teach him to walk on a leash you could even take him for short walks everyday and over time that would certainly help him shed the extra pounds.

There are reduced calorie cat foods that might be helpful for Salem, and it may mean separating him from the others during feeding time and/or finding a way to keep Salem away from the other cat's food, as they might need some of the foods with more fat to help them gain weight.

If you have an upstairs, making Salem climb the stairs for his food will also help him to move around more and burn some more calories.

Another suggestion for the other cats is to build a passageway, maybe from wood or even cardboard, which the thin cats can fit through and Salem cannot, to keep him away from their food source, but still allow them free access. Is there an object that the thin cats can all jump up on, but Salem cannot, at his current weight? You can feed your thin cats up there so he cannot easily get to their food. Some cats will actually eat more if you feed them meals versus leaving food out all the time. This way you can control exactly how much food each cat is fed.

Multiple meals a day for your skinny ones might help them put on weight, instead of leaving out food all the time that Salem can get into. It might also help to make his weight-loss program more successful.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and that Salem will be fit and trim this summer.