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Question cat is about 7 years old.He is an indoor cat and in good health but he is over weight since he had been fixed years ago.He is active but lately I have noticed that when you touch his back he gets real irritated and immediately starts licking his front leg..he does this every time you touch him.Would that have anything to do with his weight?And if so what can I do to help him lose some of this weight?

Hi Heather,
This is one of the things that is plaguing pets all over the USA- obesity. As with people, pets become obese from eating the wrong foods and lack of exercise. Neutering has nothing to do with it. All my animals are neutered and none of them are now or ever have been obese.

But feeding grocery store brands such as Meow Mix, Purina, etc., can cause obesity because these foods are not made with your pets health in mind as much as they are to bring in money and cash in on the multibillion dollar pet food market.

Feeding these foods, which lack in essential nutrients, vitamins and proteins, is like feeding your cat saltine crackers and then expecting him to get a pound of steak protein out of it. It's not going to happen.

Now the problem with obese cats is that you must help them lose weight very slowly. This is IMPERATIVE to their health! If you put your cat on a restrictive diet that isn't made properly or lower his calories too quickly, he can develop fatty liver which can become fatal very quickly.

This is why it's very important to have your vet and the team of technicians, and even the receptionists, help you along the way. Most veterinary hospitals have weight loss programs designed to help your cat lose weight safely and steadily. Your vet will weigh your cat and show you the food to use to help him lose. R/D is often used for this reason. It is made by Hills and can only be bought at the vets, but it is a very good diet and IT WORKS when fed as directed.

If you can't afford R/D ask your doctor to put him on a calorie restricted diet such as Science Diet Light Adult cat food. This food has less calories per cup then any other diet food out there- I know because I did a calorie/cup comparison on about 10 different brands that claimed to be low fat or low calorie.

So that's how you start him on the road to slimming down. Now the back pain is just that- it's pain that he is feeling for numerous reasons.

First of all, most cats aged 7 (which is senior for them) have some form of osteoarthritis in their spine and joints. When you combine that with the obesity- you are talking about a cat with pain from the arthritis already- lugging around those extra pounds of fat which makes his back hurt even more!

Another thing that could be causing this pain is a nerve that is inflamed, but there again it could be from the weight.

Many cats get a "neuralgia" from the nerves near the tail head and it makes their skin hurt even through their hair because the nerve is very inflamed. Sometimes there is no cause.

Steroids help the most. Most vets will use these but also give an injection of a longer acting steroid to get them started.

The problem with that, unfortunately, is that the steroids can cause more weight gain, so you only want him on them short term.

Either way, you will want to get him into the vets and have him examined for his back pain and started on the weight loss program.

Good luck Heather and let me know how he does!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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