After seeing a rise in feline obesity, veterinarians at A Cat Hospital in Henderson are offering pet owners tips to help their animals slim down.
“It’s a huge problem, literally and figuratively,” said owner Dr. Trish Auge. “We are seeing these cases more and more. This is something happening nationwide.”
Auge has operated A Cat Hospital, 2758 N. Green Valley Parkway, for nearly 30 years. She opened it after she moved to Henderson in 1985 and realized there was a need to specialize in care for cats.
In the last few years, she has seen an influx of pet owners bringing in cats suffering from the consequences of obesity.
“We are seeing joint problems, arthritis, hip problems and diabetes,” she said. “People are shocked when we have to treat their cats with insulin.”
Some cats are so overweight, they can’t groom themselves, she said.
“As a result, cats get a lot more grumpy,” she said. “People say they are seeing aggression in their animals. Sometimes it’s because they are overweight and just in pain.”
There are many causes for this increase, Auge said.
“I don’t want to put all the blame on the pet food industry,” she said. “But a lot of people are vulnerable to marketing. They are trying to do what’s best for their cats.”
But some of the pet food isn’t as good as advertised, Auge said.
In addition to pet food, cats haven’t gotten as much exercise as they should.
“It’s a Catch-22,” she said. “(People) have gotten more comfortable with our food portions and done less exercising, too.”
Auge said it’s hard to talk to owners about the problem.
“It’s a touchy subject,” she said. “People are sensitive to it. They don’t like you to use the word ‘obese.’ ”
But regardless, Auge said she offers simple solutions.
She said people should monitor what their cats are eating.
“This might be trickier if you have a multiple-cats home,” she said.
For cats, exercise is a must.
“It’s funny that we flock to the gym and to healthier lifestyles,” she said. “They can’t do that.”
Even if people want their cats to remain indoors, they can still find exercise options.
“Put a favorite toy up high so they have to work to get it,” Auge said.
She also encourages owners to have recreation time with their cats.
“That’s dangling the ball in front of them or using the laser (to have them chase it),” she said. “I tell people to schedule it in their phones and make it part of a routine.”
If people can afford it, she recommends a cat tree.
With moderate exercise and a better diet, Auge has seen the results.
“This does take an owner willing to get involved,” she said.
It’s not all talk for the hospital. Dr. Brian McAllister, who works at the hospital, also has dealt with cat obesity in his home.
“I have multiple cats,” he said. “I know the hard work that goes into this. I can relate.”
He has been trying to monitor his cat’s cats’ caloric intake.
“It isn’t the easiest,” he said. “Most cats are grazers and don’t eat all at one time.”
It has been a trial and error trying to help his pets. In the end, he knows the work is important.
A Cat Hospital also offers boarding. The business is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, visit acathospital.com or call 702-454-4400.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.