A fat cat made national news in the United States this week, and he’s not a politician. Called “Tiny Tim,” this kitty is now on a medically supervised weight-loss program while humans try to find his guardian or place him in a new home in his hometown of Houston, KHOU reported.
A nice human found a 35-pound tabby cat on a street in Houston and took him to Houston’s city animal shelter in December. Volunteers at the shelter took Tim to a local animal hospital to board and get on the right track with his weight. He has to stay in a dog kennel because he won’t fit in kennels built for cats, but he has already lost more than a pound.
Meanwhile, TV stations and news sites, such as KHOU, KPRC and Houston Chronicle blogs, in Houston tried to find Tim’s guardian. The vet and shelter volunteers know that a cat can’t get this overweight living on the streets, so they’re sure Tim was living in a home with a doting human until very recently.
Given that Tim had trouble moving around because of his girth, he probably wouldn’t have survived long without human assistance anyway.
Tim’s obesity brings pet weight into the spotlight. Research in the United States shows that more than half of both pet dogs and cats are overweight. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention released results of a survey of veterinarians that found 53 percent of pet cats and 55 percent of dogs are either overweight or obese. Similar studies back to 2007 have found about half of us are overweight, but this year’s data show that the pounds are creeping up.
Our humans are spending more money than ever to get us the best food and treats, but when we get too much of a good thing, we are at risk for health complications. For example, Tiny Tim also has arthritis, which is one of the conditions that comes along with excess weight. Others are diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, according to APOP. Obese pets are likely to run up big veterinary bills in treatment for these and other conditions.
APOP says it’s important for veterinarians to tell humans when their pets are getting too weighty. Also, human pet guardians need to get familiar with the silhouette of a healthy cat or dog (no doubt, the same would apply for rodents, horses, pigs and other pets as well, but we are focusing on cats and dogs here).
Cats and dogs can’t just go on crash diets to slim down, so it’s important for humans to know some basics about healthy weight loss in their pets. Healthy weight loss in cats is about one pound a month. Dogs can usually lose about 3 – 5 pounds a month, depending on their size and current health. That’s about 3 – 5 percent of body weight. APOP has a form to fill out to calculate target weight and daily calorie allowance to achieve that weight.
We don’t see extra treats as a threat to our health – I know I don’t, and my sisfur Nutmeggy (@NutmegTorby) schemes to get more treats and snacks – so we have to rely on our humans to recognize when our eating habits are putting us at risk. APOP has a resource library for humans who want to help their cats and dogs get fit and healthy. They even have calorie per serving information for popular brands of cat and dog food.
When humans can recognize the healthy silhouette, they have a better chance of helping us avoid getting too fat and knowing when to cut back on food and treats and increase exercise. Purina has great descriptions and illustrations of body condition from too thin, through healthy, to overweight and obese for cats and dogs.
If Tiny Tim stays on his fitness program, he’ll slim down to a fit weight of about 12 pounds over the next two years. He’s making fine progress and can walk four times as far as he could when he got to the clinic, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle also reported that although his original guardian hasn’t turned up, another human has applied to adopt him.