Chubby cats may be adorable, but they can be prone to serious health complications. Excess weight in cats can contribute to bone and joint pain, the development of arthritis, respiratory complications, skin conditions, diabetes and more. Since cats are so small to begin with, a few pounds can make a big difference, and that’s where careful weight management comes in, ideally with a diet and exercise plan.
But, as we know, not all cats are keen on exercise. That’s why you sometimes have to get creative, and that’s what Dani Lawhorne did when she brought her feline pal to the pool at a facility that specializes in pet weight loss and physical therapy. She figured that since Holly enjoyed baths, she might do well in the water, and it turned out she was right! Holly took to the pool like, well…a duck to water. Rumor has it she outswims some of the dogs at the facility.
Once a week, Holly trundles on down to the pool and dons a life vest for a supervised swim with Dani. She lost one pound over the first six months of her program, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but again, cats are so small to begin with that even a pound helps. And, critically, slow weight loss is important with cats to avoid liver complications. Dani and her vet are pleased with Holly’s progress from couch potato to lap swimmer, and her pool time could end up extending her life and helping her live more comfortably.
While most domestic cats don’t like water, there are some exceptions, and for Holly, exercising in the pool carries an added bonus. She has arthritis in her back legs, which makes load-bearing exercise uncomfortable. In the pool, she can get some safe cardio without straining her joints, which reduces the risk of injury and helps her feel good after working out.
Lest you’re eyeing your cat and the bathtub, be aware that Holly is on a weight loss program supervised by a veterinarian, and she works out at a facility specifically designed to be safe for animals. In addition to wearing a life vest and being supervised during sessions, she also swims in a pool laid out for pets, with a slanted entry and exit ramp to make it easy for her to get in and out. If you think your pet might be overweight, book an appointment with the vet to discuss your options, and talk about which forms of exercise might be suitable; chances are high that your kitty isn’t destined to join the Olympic swim team, but she might benefit from other activities.
Photo credit: Dania Do Svidaniya