Thursday, August 26, 2010

Case of the Week: Nahmi

Nahmi is a ten-year-old domestic short hair cat that first visited the clinic in April of this year. She had a history of occasional constipation problems and yeast infections in the past. Although she was not having any symptoms at that time, we wanted to tackle her underlying problem that can cause these issues: Nahmi was obese.

Every cat that comes into the clinic is given a body condition score, ranging from one to nine. By looking at the cat and feeling over its body during the exam, we determine where that cat fits on the body score range. Five corresponds to the ideal condition and weight for that particular cat. One would be given to an emaciated cat and nine is given to a cat that is obese.

Nahmi's body score on her first exam was a nine. She needed to lose a large amount of weight.

To help a cat lose weight, we determine what her ideal weight would be, figure out the calories needed for a cat that weight, then calculate eighty percent of that number. Based on an estimate of Nahmi's ideal weight, I recommended that her owner limit her food to 180 calories per day. When then started Nahmi on a prescription diet, Royal Canin's Calorie Control High Protein canned food.

In order for the cat's weight loss to be successful, the owner needs to stick to the calculated daily calorie count we've given. This can be difficult if a cat is used to eating all she wants whenever she wants. But by slowly decreasing the calorie count over the first week, we can help ease your cat into the new diet. We will also prescribe a prescription diet food, such as the one Nahmi now eats. These formulas contain much fewer calories than over the counter food, allowing a larger, more satisfying portion size. This also ensures the cat is receiving enough protein, vitamins and minerals. Simply severely limiting the amount of a maintenance food may not provide enough protein and other needed nutrients. This may lead to loss of muscle rather than loss of fat. Canned food rather than dry also helps because it contains more protein and more water to help the cat feel more satiated with the limited number of calories.

Nahmi has done very well on her diet, losing one and a half pounds over four months. This is almost ten percent of her starting weight and her body score has improved to an eight. By bringing her in for regular monthly progress exams, her owner ensured that Nahmi is losing weight, but not too quickly. This is important because too quick a weight loss can lead to other health problems.

Nahmi still has two to three pounds left to lose but she is well on her way. Her owner says she already is more energetic and playful. We will continue to monitor her monthly until she is close to her ideal weight.

Obesity is dangerous to a cat's health. Just as in humans, it can predispose a cat to many medical problems including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. A dedicated owner working in combination with her veterinary team can ensure proper weight loss and lead to a healthier, happier life for her cat.

Dr. Judy Karnia

To see the chart we use to measure a cat's body condition, visit the Purina website.

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