Managing chronic diseases in cats
Diagnosing and treating chronic health conditions is one of the most rewarding areas of feline health care. By learning to recognize and treat these conditions, you will deliver higher-quality medicine. The satisfaction of practicing good medicine motivates both veterinarians and support staff members, and clients will feel more bonded to your practice. Here's a look at the most common feline chronic illnesses and recent medical advances.
As we better understand cats' nutritional needs, we're better able to prevent and treat feline obesity. For example, we know that carbohydrate-rich, energy-dense diets contribute to feline obesity. Energy-restricted diets may lead to weight loss—but often at the expense of lean body mass. Many veterinarians and cat owners have been frustrated by the poor success rate of traditional high-fiber, low-calorie weight loss diets.
On the other hand, cats receiving high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets can lose weight and maintain lean body mass. Some commercial diets, such as Hill's Prescription Diet m/d, offer high-protein, low-carbohydrate formulations designed for weight management. Research also supports the administration of carnitine at 250 to 500 mg/cat/day in addition to dietary therapy to enhance fat metabolism and weight loss.2,4 Carnitine supplementation is continued for as long as needed to achieve and maintain optimal body weight.
A successful weight management plan starts with calculating the cat's daily food requirement using the manufacturer's feeding guide based on the target body weight. If the cat doesn't lose weight within one month, reduce the daily portion by 10% to 15% until the cat starts losing weight. Schedule regular re-evaluations to monitor progress and encourage owners to keep a diary of the diet type, amount fed, and body weight over time. Many obese cats will require up to 12 months to reach their target weight safely, so remind owners that patience and commitment will increase their chances of success.