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Our newest resident on a quest to lose her Muffin Tops!
We are proud to welcome the newest member of the All Pets family! Muffin, an 11 year old tabby cat, joined our hospital on June 4th. Muffin was relinquished to us when her owner found she could no longer deal with the cat’s health problems.
Muffin’s condition? She’s fat. Not just overweight, but morbidly obese. As many people know, that degree of obesity can lead to all kinds of problems.
Muffin’s owner had her on a low calorie food, but the cat just really liked to eat and wasn’t much of a fan of exercise, to boot. She was obviously suffering physically at her current weight and well on her way to developing Diabetes if the trend continued.
We agreed to take Muffin in as a new resident and enroll her in “Kitty Fat Camp.” We will document her progress in our newsletters, on Social Media, and it Muffin's upcoming blog posts. We hope that she will be an inspiration and education to other pet owners whose pets may be suffering from excess pounds and the physical ailments that can accompany excess weight.
What’s Wrong with a little Fat?
Truth be told, Muffin is more than a little fat; however even more modest amounts of excess weight can be dangerous to pets. Being overweight can set a pet up for all kinds of health problems:
With Muffin’s condition being what it is, we needed to first evaluate her general health to see if there was a physical problem either causing her excessive weight or health problems resulting from it. We started with a general health survey:
Muffin's Customized Health Plan
Given Muffin’s activity level, and findings of her exam and labwork, it was obvious that simple caloric restriction is not going to be enough to get Muffin back to a fighting weight. A combination of diet and exercise are ideal for any weight loss plan, but our new kitty’s pain level is likely preventing her from being as active as she should be, while her excess weight is making her pain level worse! Time for a comprehensive weight loss plan including Diet, Exercise and Pain Control.
Diet: Possibly the easiest part of Muffin’s new plan is her strict diet. She has been placed on a prescription canned diet which helps to speed weight loss by increasing a pet's metabolic rate. Canned food is generally considered an optimal diet for all cats, as they are much higher in protein than carbohydrates (which is optimal for a cat’s metabolism as they are carnivores). Canned foods also have a much higher water content than dry kibble so it helps a pet to feel more “full” with each meal which, in turn, helps with portion control. Not only is Muffin on a new food, but her portions are carefully controlled to prevent overindulgence.
In the beginning, we had to monitor Muffin closely to make sure she actually ate. All of her life changes had left her a bit stressed, and as a result she is was eating well. Cats who do not eat for too many days are actually prone to a life-threatening condition called Hepatic Lipidoses (a form of liver failure), so slow weaning onto her new feeding plan and monitoring her intake was essential. Luckily, we found that Muffin thrived on all the love and attention from the staff, and quickly adapted. She is now eating her entire portion and is completely weaned onto her new diet.
Pain Control: Many cats suffer from undiagnosed arthritis, but in Muffin’s case the condition is fairly obvious. Before we can consider too much exercise, we have to manage Muffin’s pain. Unfortunately current treatments for feline arthritis are limited, as cats do not metabolize NSAID pain medication (such as Rimadyl) as well as dogs do.
Adequan: Muffin has been started on an injectable supplement called Adequan. This product has been on the market for decades where it was first used on horses. Adequan (glycosaminoglycan) helps to thicken and nourish the essential fluid in the joint called synovial fluid. This fluid acts as padding and lubrication for joints, while providing nutrients to joint cartilage. The padding and lubrication helps the joint move more easily and decreases joint inflammation while the nutrition helps to prevent cartilage breakdown, protecting the joint further. While Adequan was originally studied in horses and dogs, this supplement has been found to be safe and very effective in feline patients as well. We hope this will give Muffin some relief from her joint pain.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Although it adds a few calories, Muffin has also been put on Nordic Naturals Omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fats have significant anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial for many conditions. We hope it will help both her arthritis and her skin.
For more information on Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Read our Article.
Laser Therapy & Acupuncture: Both of these integrative medicine treatments are great options for Muffin, as they safely help the body heal while decreasing inflammation and pain. They both are good options to add to almost any pain control regimen.
Acupuncture: This treatment uses thin needles and electrical stimulation to stimulate specific points on the body. The treatment has been shown to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions, helping the body to heal. Acupuncture has been scientifically proven to help with a variety of conditions, including arthritis. We feel that it may be able to give Muffin some pain relief in combination with her other treatments.
Laser Therapy: Therapeutic lasers are becoming increasingly common in both human and veterinary medicine. This treatment uses red and infrared light to stimulate the metabolic centers of the cell. The result is increased cellular energy, increased microcirculation, increased healing speed, decreased inflammation and decreased pain. Laser therapy is often considered a valuable part of an arthritis treatment plan.
Gabapentin: This medication is used in the treatment of uncontrolled neuropathic pain, and is often used in conjunction with other therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis and spondylosis. Muffin has not yet started this medication, as we would like to assess her response to other treatments first. However, if she doesn’t seem significantly improved in a month, we will add this treatment to Muffin’s list.
Lifestyle: According to her former owner, Muffin was quite the couch potato. Given her weight, her arthritis, and her back disease, it is not surprising that she was reluctant to move. Unfortunately, this became a vicious cycle with her weight issues over the years. The fact is Muffin needs to get out and move, so she has been put on an exercise plan! This exercise plan is based on active play—meaning that the staff will interact with Muffin and encourage her to play (as opposed to passive play where a toy is made available for a pet with the expectation that they will play alone). Our staff is now tasked with making sure our new charge gets some exercise every day. Together they benefit from our safe fenced back patio where staff and patients can get some fresh air.
Just as with any exercise plan, we have to start slow. Muffin’s plan starts with 10 minutes of exercise every day. Truthfully, she’s a little reluctant to participate preferring instead to lie in comfy corners; so our staff is getting their exercise too. They take Muffin (22lbs of cat is a lot to lift) to the center of the patio so that she gets up and walks to her preferred corner. They do this over and over to make sure she gets her steps in! Over time, we will increase the time, steps and intensity of her exercise. We hope to eventually convince her to participate in feather toy and laser pointer play and will even work to get her used to walking on a leash with a harness!
Muffin has a long road ahead of her, but our doctors and staff are ready for the challenge. We hope that the process will be life-changing for Muffin and inspirational for our clients with overweight pets. We are excited to have her be the first participant in our Kitty Fat Camp program.
Stay tuned to our newsletter and on Social Media for updates on Muffin!