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Pet Health: Should Your Fat Cat Go on a Diet?

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Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 11:40 AM

Should you put your overweight cat on a diet? A new study published in The Journal of Veterinary Behavior suggests doing is not only a good idea for your pet’s health, but can also strengthen the bond between a cat and its owner.

Veterinarians not involved in the study noted an epidemic of overweight and obese cats has alarmed them in recent years.

But the new research, by scientists from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, found cat owners need not fear rejection if they restrict their cats’ calories. After an eight-week diet, the cats actually demonstrated more affection after they were fed, their owners reported, The New York Times reports.

“Maybe owners will now be more likely to do what’s healthy for their cats,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

“My friends in general practice now say they are surprised when a cat comes in with an ideal body weight,” said Dr. Martha G. Cline, a veterinary nutritionist at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, N.J., who monitors Maya’s weight.

Many factors contribute to weight gain in cats, including the fact that humans demonstrate love with food and that cats learn “affectionate behavior” in order to get fed.

“We say, ‘dogs have owners, cats have staff,’” said Dr. Richard E. Goldstein, chief medical officer at the Animal Medical Center in New York. “A cat learns to manipulate us very well: when she’s hungry, she’s the most affectionate cat in the world. And people will do anything to keep their cats happy.”

For the new study, 48 cats (at least 25 percent over ideal weight) were put on one of three restricted diets, equal in calories. After two months, more than three-quarters of the cats lost weight. What’s more, cat owners felt that despite the restricted feeding, the cats did not turn vindictive. Instead, the cats showed more affection. After feeding, the cats would more often purr and sit in the owner’s lap.

“We don’t know why,” said Dr. Beaver. “But cats don’t hold a grudge if you limit their food.”

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Putting your overweight cat on a diet is not only a good idea for your pet's health, but can also strengthen the bond between a house cat and its owner.
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2016-40-16
Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 11:40 AM
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