Early this year, Halo teamed up with Bideawee, a New York-based rescue organization, for its biggest loser competition between eight fat cats awaiting adoption. After an initial weigh-in, the cats began their diet on February 2nd eating proper portions of the $32,000 worth of canned Spots Stew that Halo donated for the weight loss challenge, and for Bideawee’s other residents. Dr. Donna Spector, Halo’s vet, supervised the contestants, and she reports on final weigh-ins:
The Bideawee-Halo Feline Weight Loss Challenge has come to an end! The weight loss competition transformed seven flabby felines into sleeker shinier kitties. For these cats, weight loss means they are at less risk for the development of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and other obesity-related problems.
The Feline Weight Loss Challenge program began February 2 with Domino and Missy in Westhampton; Jack, Dixie, Violet and Suki in Wantagh; and Emily and Minky in Manhattan. (Emily dropped out shortly thereafter because of a medical condition.)
The cats had a one week food transition period prior to the start of the study to insure they were slowly adapted and eating the food well. At the onset of the challenge, the cats were weighed and examined by a Bideawee resident veterinarian. Their ideal weight was determined and Halo’s veterinarian, Dr. Donna Spector, created an individual Halo diet plan for each cat. The cats were fed and monitored closely twice daily. Once each week the cats were examined and re-weighed by the same veterinarian at each facility. The cats all ate the diet well and experienced no digestive or other disturbances.
The Challenge was a success…
· All cats were considered obese at the start of the study. On average they were 28% overweight (20-39%). This is like an extra 42 pounds on a 150 pound woman! Alarming when you think of it that way!!
· Six of the seven cats achieved the projected weight loss of 1 to 2% each week on the Halo feeding program. The remaining cat lost 0.75% each week. Cats shouldn’t lose weight quicker than this due to the possible development of a fatal liver condition, called hepatic lipidosis.
· On average the cats lost 6.1% body weight during the four week competition. The range of weight loss was from 3% up to 9.4% during the four week period.
· We also noted a marked improvement in the skin and haircoat of several of the participant cats. Although unrelated to weight loss, it was an amazing benefit of the Halo feeding program!
For healthy weight loss, it would take an average of 14-28 weeks to get these cats to their goal weights. Just like people, it is best that pets lose weight slowly but surely. We have encouraged the new adoptive owners to continue with calorie restriction and increased exercise in order to maximize the health of their new family members.