A few weeks back, the Cobb County Animal Control shelter had a complaint about a dog being too thin. I’m not sure of the outcome of the complaint but I do know the shelter took it seriously and made changes. Being too thin certainly isn’t the case with the cats at the shelter. The lack of exercise is taking its toll; pot bellies are the norm, not the exception, in the cat rooms.
Co-mingling rooms, where cats roam free, would be a great help in keeping down the obesity rate. Best management practices of shelter animals show that these types of rooms cut down on stress and illnesses among the cats. A more welcoming, less scary, shelter produces higher adoption rates, lower kill rates, and are less costly to fund or operate.
There are local metro counties that have co-mingling rooms and/or state-of-the-art facilities, but when I checked with Gwinnett County Animal Control (which built a state-of-the-art facility in 2007), its 2010 kill-rate/adoption statistics for cats (in particular) were pathetic. Their shelter stats show that 3,804 cats were either picked up by AC or brought in to the shelter - 3,240 of them were put down. Eight cats were reclaimed by their owners and 556, I assume, were either adopted or rescued – no stats on adoptions and rescues.
I don’t have the Cobb statistics, but I’m certain they are better than that. But, why settle for just being better than someone else…why not strive to lead and to reform? Wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, for Cobb County to be forward in its thinking and in its actions? Contact your commissioners and let them know that you are interested in the welfare of our shelter animals. Tell them you would like to see animal welfare and shelter reform that promotes best management practices to save lives while saving money. It’s a win/win situation. While you’re at it, let them know that the law allowing people to drop off their animal at the shelter for any reason (which amounts to no reason much of the time) needs to change.
Otis, Lady, Miss Kitty, and Kimona are this week’s Patch Pets of the Week. All three kitties are overweight, but with some exercise and a special diet they will be fit again in no time. The dog, Kimona, was left at the shelter when her family went on vacation.
Otis had obviously been someone’s pet before becoming a stray. He was overweight when he came in to the shelter on September 24 - now he has gained even more. Otis is a shy, 5-year old fellow that stays in the very back of his cage, usually in his litter box, and turns his face away from the cage door. We had him out this week - he purred briefly, played feather momentarily, but mostly he hid under the table in a chair. Otis needs someone who understands shy kitties. He doesn’t mind being held or being loved on. He quite enjoys it really. Otis just doesn’t seem to understand that it’s okay for him to ask for that love. ID No. 536172.
Lady has been at the shelter the longest. She was small when she came in on August 20, but has grown tremendously since then. Three-year-old Lady is quite affectionate; she likes to be held, petted, and simply enjoys peoples’ company. She has a horrible cage location that doesn’t lend itself to good visibility. Lady’s markings are stunning and her personality is precious. She’s a friend waiting to be friended. Lady hung out on the kitty Christmas stockings full of catnip toys and had a blast. ID No. 534823.
Miss Kitty was turned in by her owner on Oct. 12. She was a plus- sized kitty then but now she is a double plus. Miss Kitty just seems to enjoy life. She has a great disposition, keeps her cage clean, and warms up to you immediately when you come over to see her. She is a beautiful 3-year-old cat who would love to be out and about and in a home once again. ID No. 536800.
Kimona happened by the room we were photographing the cats. She had just been turned in and was headed to a cage. It seems her family, of which she has been a part of for the last eight years, was going on vacation and so they turned her in at the shelter. What? That just can’t be…but it is and it isn’t an uncommon occurrence. Kimona is an 8-year-old Beagle, who is housetrained, leash-trained, and has a sweet disposition. She wasn’t a fan of Smithy the cat that walked up to her and touched her nose. She didn’t bother him; he just startled her. I would venture to say she is pretty good with cats and other dogs. ID No. 538721.
Looking for ways to give to the dogs and cats at the shelter this Christmas:
Purchase a gift certificate and let someone pick out their new furry friend.
If you would like to help make their stay a bit more comfy, you can order a kitty bed for a donation of $15. These beds are made locally and with much love for the animals.
For a dog bed, donate a Kuranda bed. They can be purchased and donated to the shelter by ordering online. The beds will be sent directly to the shelter www.fosa.petfinder.com.
My blog: A cat in a dog’s world
Obesity in pets is one of the most common health problems seen by veterinarians. In fact, almost 40 percent of pets in the United States are obese. An overweight pet tends to live an average of 2 ½ years less than those that are kept lean. Joint problems, respiratory compromise, heart disease and increased anesthetic risk are also associated with being overweight. Obese cats are prone to developing diabetes and are more prone to develop fatty liver, a life-threatening liver disease. Since we control what our pets eat, obesity is completely preventable.
How do you know if your pet is overweight?
A dog or cat that is at an ideal weight has ribs that are easily felt when lightly running your hands along their chest. If you have to apply pressure to feel ribs, your pet is overweight.
An overweight pet will not have a readily visible waistline when viewed from above.
A pet that is at an ideal weight, when viewed from the side, will have a belly more narrow than their chest. This gives the belly a tucked up appearance.
Links for illustrated body condition charts:
If you are unsure whether your pet is overweight, consult your veterinarian - some animals may have underlying diseases that can lead to obesity.
If your pet is found to be overweight, your veterinarian can help you design a diet plan specifically for them – on occasion pets need prescription weight-control diets to maintain a healthy weight.
Make sure your pets get plenty of exercise.
For preventative measures, there is nothing like a good diet routine and plenty of exercise.
Dr. Lori Germon is a veterinarian atin Smyrna. You can find information on pet introduction and other pet topics at their website. You can also find them on Facebook.