How to main­tain pet’s weight in multi-cat home

Boston Herald - - THE EDGE • ADVICE - Dr. John de Jong

QMy oldest cat is now 16 and weighs all of 6 pounds. A re­cent visit to the vet re­vealed some bad teeth, and blood work was done to as­sess her for anes­the­sia and den­tistry. Luck­ily, ev­ery­thing looks good, and her clean­ing, with some pos­si­ble ex­trac­tions, is sched­uled. My other cat is a docile 6-year-old male who now weighs 18 pounds. His teeth are in de­cent shape, but he has some re­ces­sion of his gums. How can I get one to gain weight and the other to lose weight? They share food and play well, although some­times a bit rough. Is there any way to get them to get along bet­ter?

AYour sit­u­a­tion is not that un­com­mon. While the older fe­male cat may be pe­tite and the younger male larger, the male cat’s weight is of con­cern. With­out see­ing his gen­eral size, I would be will­ing to bet that he is con­sid­er­ably over­weight. Not many male cats should weigh in ex­cess of 12 pounds, ex­cept for cats bred for size, such as Maine coon cats. Be­ing over­weight can lead to di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and other health is­sues.

Multi-cat house­holds can pose a chal­lenge to keep­ing all cats at a proper weight. This holds true if there are two cats or 10. There may be one cat that pushes the oth­ers out of the way to eat more.

The only way to man­age the sit­u­a­tion is la­bor-in­ten­sive. Feed them twice a day and do not leave food out for them to graze on. At both feed­ings, sep­a­rate the feed­ing bowls, put the cats in front of their re­spec­tive bowls and mon­i­tor them for 1015 min­utes while they eat to en­sure that one doesn’t eat the other’s food. When the time is up, take the food away un­til the next feed­ing. In this man­ner, you can con­trol how much they each get. Most adult cats should eat about cup twice daily. You can also feed the heavy cat a diet food that you can pur­chase com­mer­cially, or speak with your vet­eri­nar­ian about pre­scrip­tion diet foods. Don’t try to get the big­ger cat to lose the weight too fast, as that also can lead to problems. Plan to get the weight off over a year’s time.

As for your sec­ond ques­tion, if they’ve been to­gether for six years, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to change the dy­nam­ics be­tween them, but you could try var­i­ous anx­i­ety-re­duc­ing prod­ucts and see if they help.

Got a ques­tion for Dr. John? Send it to ask­thevet@ boston­her­

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