Tips for Overweight Maine Coon Cat


Q: I have a fat cat, a 13-year-old Maine Coon named Blossom, who is overweight. The vet didn’t seem too concerned about her weight but she’s obviously fat. She hates being weighed but she’s about 17 pounds and from above is shaped like a pear.  She’s on an eating schedule and measured kibble.  We do have some lower calorie food.

But IMHO diet alone isn’t enough and she won’t exercise/play.  I have at least 50 different cat toys of almost every kind imaginable and she doesn’t give any of them the least attention.  I mean not at all, not the smallest bit of interest.  So, I’m looking for recommendations for cat feeders that force the cat to play to dispense food.  I’ve seen a few online that are hollow plastic balls with holes.  The cat has to bop the ball around to dispense the kibble.  I was wondering if you knew of anything else that might help. G. E., Sacramento, CA


A: You are absolutely correct getting a cat to move would be great to gradually adjust metabolism, and burn some calories. Much more, movement, especially encouraging prey drive is psychologically beneficial.

I’m confused by your veterinarian’s response to your cat being overweight. Of course, I can’t see your cat here – and Maine Coons tend to be large cats. Still, of course, I believe that if you suggest your cat has too many pounds, it’s true. And there are a myriad of health risks associated with overweight cats – so you are totally correct that this is a health risk. So, I am baffled if the veterinarian is “unconcerned.”

it’s possible, if not likely, that Blossom is painful, explaining her hesitancy to play. According to new data, 40 percent of all adult cats suffer from arthritis and that number could exceed 90 percent when we’re talking older and overweight cats.  In cats, signs of pain can be quite subtle. Heart disease is not uncommon among Maine Coons, and there are other potential medical explanations for her lack of vitality, aside from the extra pounds.

Consider seeing a veterinarian, who happens to be a feline specialist, or at least a certified Cat Friendly certified veterinarian and thoroughly ruling out a medical explanation.

Indeed, there are a myriad to toys which dispense food. For starters, I’d take Blossom into a room away from other cats, and close the door. Begin by spreading whatever kibble you use around the floor – and then spread further and further until you begin to make the food harder to get to, so Blossom has to at the very least move around some to get the food.

There are today SO many food puzzles, it’s difficult to suggest just one. I do like the Indoor Hunting Feeder, developed by Dr. Liz Bales. And, note, individual cats do have their own preferences. For starters you can use an empty egg container a muffin pan to deposit kibble into or even a toilet tube role folded on both sides; cut holes in the middle for kibble to come out.

The secret is to partake in play with an interactive cat toy, a fishing pole-type toy with feathers or fabric at the end. Having not played for so long, she may need to learn to play all over again. A really inexpensive, albeit effective option, is a Cat Dancer. Also, rotate toys left out so they’re not the same old same old.

By the way, your cat is clearly food motivated. Keep out a cat scale all the time and periodically drop pieces of kibble on it (without adding to her daily total). Eventually, she’ll step on the scale voluntarily – known to her as an automatic food dispenser.