I think it is appropriate at this time of year to talk about obesity in cats, since I’m also talking about baking and eating lots of cookies. It is also a huge problem in dogs but for this post, I’m going to talk about cats.
The vast majority of indoor cats are overweight or obese. This stems mainly from inappropriate diet, inappropriate feeding schedule and lack of daily exercise. A cat that is overweight or obese has a greatly increased risk of developing Diabetes Mellitus. Other health problems that can arise as a result of excess weight include: respiratory difficulty, liver disease, osteoarthritis, skin problems (from not being able to groom properly) and a general decreased quality of life. Keeping your cat at a lean, healthy body weight can add many good quality years to his or her life.
Here is a guide to help your cat lose weight or maintain a healthy weight:
1) Diet – Cats are obligate carnivores. They require a large amount protein in their diet. Most commercial cat foods are too high in carbohydrates and too low in protein (especially dry food). All cats should receive canned food at least daily. Canned food is high in protein and water. Since cats have evolved to be infrequent water drinkers, they need to get a large portion of their daily water intake from their food. This is especially important in male cats for urinary tract health. The bottom line is that most cats are taking in too many calories every day. Your veterinarian can determine how many calories (and thus how much food) your pet should be eating on a daily basis. Many cats need prescription diets under veterinary supervision to lose weight appropriately.
2) Feeding Schedule – Cats are NOT grazers and should not be treated as such. Leaving food out (“free feeding”) allows your cat to determine his or her calorie intake for the day. Most cats will overeat if given the chance and become overweight with this method of feeding. Cats should be fed a measured amount of food approximately two to three times daily. Free-fed, grazing cats are more likely to develop a number of other gastro-intestinal disorders, including constipation. In a multiple cat house where free-feeding was being done, all cats will need to learn to eat meals at specific times so they can be fed separate, measured amounts. This transition can take time so please be patient.
3) Exercise – Indoor cats do NOT get adequate amounts of exercise. Lack of activity can have serious consequences that stem beyond weight loss. Exercise stimulates intestinal and colonic motility; therefore, sedentary cats are more prone to constipation. Exercise has also been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin requirements. It is important to try to devote at least 15 minutes per day to getting your cat to exercise. Play games with your cat. Use appropriate cat toys, play fetch (yes many cats love this!), use a laser pointer, etc. Consider taking your cat outside on a harness/leash for walks (make sure he or she is vaccinated and dewormed regularly if going outside).
4) Food Ingredients – For over-the-counter diets, make sure that you read the ingredient list. Check for good quality ingredients and make sure that meat proteins are among the first ingredients listed. But please note that wheat and corn are not awful, toxic substances for cats…This is a whole other discussion. Don’t get me started.
My cats are not examples of a perfect body condition, especially Guinness. I do, however, feed them good quality food, including canned food three times daily. Feeding canned food is healthier than dry for sooooooooo many reasons. I even mix in warm water at each canned food feeding to make it more like a gravy slurry. The added water is perfect for urinary tract health and it makes them feel more “full” at each meal. I highly recommend feeding cats this way every day. They LOVE it.
Now then, speaking of obesity, I insist you try these eggnog cookies. They are soft and fluffy and the glaze gives them just enough extra eggnog kick with some extra sweetness. They are very easy to make and perfect for the holidays. I will also be giving these away in my cookie tins this year.
I love eggnog, but sometimes the drink is a little too rich, thick and heavy for me. I usually end up diluting it with some skim milk. These cookies have plenty of eggnog flavour (especially with the glaze) but they are not overpowering. Everyone will love them. I think next time I may try adding some rum extract 🙂
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons eggnog
1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C)
2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Cream sugar and butter until light
4. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth.
5. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.
6. Do not over mix. Refrigerate cookie dough for 1-2 hours
7. Spoon onto un-greased cookie sheets or parchment paper, making approx 1 inch dough balls.
8. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
9. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges barely start to brown.
10. While cookies are in the oven, make the eggnog glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar with 3 T eggnog.
11. Gaze your cookies warm or cooled and top with cinnamon.
Makes 2 dozen cookies. Enjoy!