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Pets / By Dr. Timm Otterson

Q: My cat is really overweight. Is there anything that I can do to get her to lose weight?

A: Weight control can be as difficult for cats as it is for people. Most cats don't get enough exercise and spend the day nibbling on a heaping bowl of food (just like some of their owners).

The first step in controlling weight is limiting calories. This can be done by feeding a lower calorie food and limiting the amount you offer your cat.

You should start this process with a trip to your veterinarian. Your vet can weigh your cat, recommend particular diets and set goals for your pet.

Another key to weight loss is to eliminate treats. Some people feed their cat a lot of high-calorie treats thinking they are spoiling their companion. What they end up with is an obese feline prone to arthritis, diabetes mellitus, skin problems and more.

Another tenet of weight loss is exercise. This may not be easy given the inertia of some cats, but you can take advantage of your cat's innate predatory nature. Numerous toys are available with my favorite being the laser pointers used by lecturers. Cats love chasing that elusive light on the floor, and their owners love the entertainment.

Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 1252, Buffalo, N.Y. 14205 or to the Web site at Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.

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