Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Tubby or not Tubby

Just before Christmas we were asked to take four cats who had belonged to someone who had died. Penny, aged 8, her daughter Tuppence and sons Lucky and Joey all aged 6, came into our shelter care of a friend of their deceased owner.

All four cats were rather on the large size, with Penny being the fattest by far.

The person who brought them in apologised for their size, and made the comment that someone had thrown something sticky at Penny as she had "things" on her back that were stuck to her fur.

Upon closer examination of Penny, the "things" turned out to be matted fur which had clumped and tufted causing tangles. There were two or three larger clumps and a few smaller ones, all located in the region of her spine.

We were able to cut them off quite easily, although it did leave her with a couple of patches of thin fur.

The tangles weren't caused by something being thrown at Penny. They were caused because she is so fat she cannot turn herself properly to groom her back, and as the loose fur fell away when she moulted, it remained entwined with growing fur and gradually became knotted.

We see probably half a dozen cats each year with this this problem. The majority we can cut off, some have to be "razored" off by our vets and a minority have to undergo a general anaesthetic so that the vet can completely shave the cat.

It is so unnecessary. The cat shouldn't have been allowed to get so fat in the first place but at the first sign of a knot it should have been groomed.

Obesity in cats can cause other problems. The excess weight can put strain on their joints leading to less mobility and that in turn can result in them becoming fatter. In addition to mobility problems, excess weight can cause problems with the cat's organs, including of course the heart.

If a cat does become overweight, it is important to take proper advice with regard to reducing the cat's weight. Just cutting down the amount of food you give may not be the best step forward, as it may result in liver failure as the cat's metabolic rate changes due to fasting or eating a lower amount of food. Please take veterinary advice if your cat is overweight. You can read more about obesity in cats here.

Treat your cat from time to time if you must, but make it a treat that is designed for cats, or which suits the cat, rather than something that is designed for humans. And if you treat the cat to a luxury catfood meal, give it in lieu of his or her regular meal, not in addition!

We're sure Penny's owner wanted her to have treats and gave her far too much food out of kindness, but poor Penny will have to watch what she eats for a long time now, until she reduces to an acceptable size.

Don't kill your cat with kindness.