Gradual change to a high fiber low fat diet is safe & effective.

 

Question:

I have a special problem with my cat “Tigger”. He is fat. But I don’t know what to do for Tigger because if I don’t give him exactly what he wants, he just stops eating. If that happens for too long, I’m afraid he’ll get fatty liver disease.

 

Dr. Nichol:

I am glad that you are concerned. For starters, before we try to make diet changes, let’s be sure that he is as healthy as he appears. Get him a good thorough physical exam. If he is more than a few years old, some basic lab work would also be important to be sure that he is not brewing a problem that could surface during the time of the diet change. If he checks out well, do the following.

 

Make a gradual transition from whatever he has insisted on eating to a truly low fat, high fiber diet. Here is why: Simply making a sudden switch to another food  may cause him to stop eating.  Cats can be bad about this. People and dogs will usually start to eat if they get hungry enough-even if they don’t like the new food. But even if Tigger’s health looks good to his doctor, he could still get sick from not eating. So gradually mix in the new diet as you phase out the old food so that the transition is complete after 1-2 weeks. He may eat around the new food in the bowl for the first few days, but as the old food becomes less and less, he will begin to sample the new food.

 

The last point is choosing the new diet. There are many so called “light diets” nowadays. They are actually quite similar to regular adult pet food because by being available to the general consumer they must be capable of supporting all life stages. So a diet that is substantially restricted in fat won’t be found where most folks buy pet food. Diets that are really low in fat and high in fiber are prescription diets available through your veterinarian. Tigger’s doctor will carefully choose a food that will safely reduce his weight. Not only will Tigger look better, he will be more active and playful. And enjoying life is what it’s really all about anyway isn’t it?