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“It is Jan. 1, and I just heard my mom say she has made a New Year’s Resolution to lose 15 pounds. Then she looked at me, felt my ribs and announced that I need to lose a few pounds, too. We both are going on a diet together.

“I admit I have been eating more and playing less. I am eight and really enjoy snuggling as my main activity. Since March, Mom has been home more working from the sofa. I loved it because I just nestled in next to her and purred my contentment.”

Hermione is not the only cat who would be healthier to lose a few pounds in 2021.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, obesity develops when “food intake exceeds energy expended. The excess food is stored as fat. Once a pet is obese, he may remain obese even after excessive caloric intake stops. The majority of cases of obesity are related to simple overfeeding coupled with lack of exercise.”

Since cats like to eat, and owners like to spoil their kitties, over-feeding  happens often. Overweight and obese cats now outnumber those at a healthy weight, and vets claim they are seeing more super-obese cats.

An overweight cat faces serious health risks. Even a couple of extra pounds can lead to Type 2 diabetes, liver issues, joint pain/arthritis and the ability to properly groom.

Your vet can tell you if your cat needs to lose weight, but you can tell, too. When you look down at your cat, you should see a noticeable “waist” between the back of the rib cage and the hips. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs and see no sagging belly.

Before starting your cat’s weight loss program, schedule a vet visit to be certain your furry friend has no underlying health conditions.  Your vet can help you determine your cat’s daily caloric requirements, select a suitable food and calculate how much to feed your pet.

General dietary tips from veterinarians are: 

• Replace dry food with canned which tends to have more protein and fewer carbohydrates and sets definite meal times rather than leaving out kibble for your cat to eat all day,

• Cut back on treats. Instead, make rewards playtime with you.

• Make your cat work for treats with “food puzzles.” They slow down cats’ eating and tap into their natural hunting and foraging instincts.

• Increase your cat’s physical activity. Regular exercise burns calories, changes body composition and increases your pet’s resting metabolic rate.

Finally, be patient. It could take a cat up to 6 months to lose a pound.

If you need, join Hermione and her mom. Let 2021 be the year both you and your cat become healthier and happier dropping a few pounds.

Judy Hamontre is a volunteer at Ark-Valley Humane Society.