The Curtis Project

About a year ago, we were contacted by a client who wanted advice about what to do with their overweight cat. This cat had lived indoors and had become obese despite eating diet food. The family was no longer interested in caring for the cat, who barely moved and was unable to perform simple tasks such as using the litter box. After refusing euthanasia of this pet, our clinic’s team decided to adopt him. ‘Curtis’ became an important part of life at Eglinton Vet last summer.

Curtis came into our care weighing almost 30 pounds. At this size, he was unable to walk more than a few steps at a time or groom himself. We are proud to say that after one year at the clinic, Curtis now weighs about 19.5 pounds (a decrease of 33%!). He has lost this weight due to the perseverance of our staff, who limit his treats, measure his food carefully and exercise him when possible. The most impressive thing about Curtis’ weight loss is that we continue to feed him the same diet food that he was eating at home, but simply limit his intake to a more appropriate amount.

Obesity in pets is unfortunately something that our doctors discuss with clients every day. It is one of the most common medical disorders affecting companion animals, with up to 40% of pets in North America being classified as overweight. There are a number of reasons for this including: a more confined and sedentary lifestyle for pets, availability of highly palatable, energy dense pet foods and treats, and a strong human-animal bond that leads to overfeeding and snacking. 
Although most cases of obesity can be corrected with modified owner care, prevention of the problem remains the easiest solution. Young pets should be fed an appropriate amount of a balanced food with a caloric density that will result in normal growth rates and lean body condition. We can prevent weight problems in adult pets by choosing an appropriate diet, avoiding free choice feeding and poor behavioural habits (e.g. begging), and encouraging regular exercise. 
One of our goals is to discuss diet and weight with each of our clients at each and every visit. We hope that by focusing on good nutrition, we will allow our patients to live long, healthy lives. Our friend Curtis remains our favourite example of how we can help our patients to lose weight. Please ask to meet Curtis if you would like when you are at the clinic!