Roxie’s Feline Weight Loss Challenge

When I purchased Arizona Skies Animal Hospital on Oct. 1, 2014, I negotiated a lovely cat as part of the deal. Roxie is a short-haired white cat with a little patch of black on her forehead. This kitty found clinic life a bit nerve-wracking. She hid behind the x-ray table during the day only coming out to explore the clinic at night. Roxie’s sedentary life and habit of overeating made her morbidly obese. As you can see from the picture below, there is a lot to love with Roxie!

Roxie on first day of diet.
Roxie – Before

Obesity in cats causes all the same problems as in humans. Overweight cats commonly develop pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, heart disease and respiratory problems. Much to her chagrin, I immediately placed Roxie on a diet. I changed her from dry food to canned food to decrease the carbohydrates in her diet. Because cats are strict carnivores requiring protein from animal sources, the carbohydrates don’t seem to satisfy their appetites for long. These cats eat and eat and eat their dry food. I call them dry food junkies. Even though Roxie was eating a weight control dry food, she ate so much of it that she didn’t drop a pound. When I changed her diet to canned food, she tipped the scales at 13 pounds 2 ounces. This poor girl was so fat that she couldn’t even clean her rear end. I had to do it for her.

The first month with Roxie was tough. Eating twice a day with strict portion control did not please our little princess. Her hunger drove her out of hiding as she begged for food. She also got into a lot of trouble. She ate lab forms, toilet paper and ripped open some of our prescription diets. Diet was a four letter word for this curvy feline. I think she wished I had not bought the clinic.  No, I am certain she wished I had not purchased the clinic.

Despite her vociferous complaints, the diet continued. By December 1, 2014 she had dropped a little over  a pound. The little snowball could now jump on chairs for the first time since we had met. She now loves to sit on my office chair and look out the window. She can also clean her rear end. And best of all, her hunger pains began to subside.  Her begging for food started about an hour before feeding.

Five months later, Roxie weighs in at eleven pounds five ounces. Roxie can jump on counters now which means we have to be careful what we leave out! We had to move the prescription food to a higher shelf to keep it safe. Her fat pad is almost gone replaced by loose skin that sways back and forth when she runs. It hangs about an inch off the ground. She will probably require a tummy tuck soon.

Roxie - After
Roxie – After

What amazes me the most about Roxie is how her weight loss and increased mobility have transformed her life. Instead of hiding in radiology, Roxie struts around the clinic like she owns it. Whenever I sit at my desk, Roxie hangs out in my lap to supervise my work. She purrs constantly and never misses an opportunity for attention. Her confidence is through the roof. Above she is pictured sitting at the doorway to my office supervising from afar. She feels great!

If you live with an overweight kitty there is hope.  My next post will deal with dieting overweight cats.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.