Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday December 1st 2015



By Jessica Forbes

Thanks to an Internet-celebrity cat named Buddha, fat cats no longer have to suffer in silence. Buddha is leading the movement for overweight cats everywhere to get off the couch and feel the burn.

Buddha was dropped off at a Nashville, Tenn. shelter in early August weighing in at 32 pounds. If you dont know anything about cats, well, thats pretty big. A local pet store is currently fostering Buddha and working with an animal clinic to get his weight down. Now on a regimen of cat food and exerciseBuddha works out on a veterinary water treadmillthe feline is slowly shedding those extra lbs. and serving as an example of what’s possible when a cat’s diet and fitness are improved. Yes, you read that righta cat on a treadmill.

Although Buddhas case is a bit extremehed been eating human food onlyanyone with an indoor cat knows its easy for them to start putting on the pounds.

Obesity is a problem with indoor cats, said Dr. Laura Tonetti Hall of Pensacolas East Hill Animal Hospital. Normal, healthy cats will sleep 18 hours a day anyway. If theyre inside, theyre going to be less stimulated and probably going to sleep more than that.

Just as with humans, finding higher quality food with less filler is an important first step for managing a pets weight. All food is not created equal, said Hall, who recommends veterinary prescription diets as indoor cats are prone to steady snacking. Its the difference between eating a big, huge salad and being filled up versus eating French fries. Its just a lot more food they can eat for the calories.

For indoor cats, owner-initiated activity is especially important, and there is a range of products out there aimed at getting felines to break a sweat. If you dont have a water treadmill handy or room for a cat-sized hamster wheel in your place, there are easier ways to get a cat in motion.

Those laser light pointers are awesome, said Hall, mentioning the main goal is to burn calories.

If youre looking to save some cash, batting around an old water or milk bottle caps or tying together pieces of ribbon from gifts or clothing tags is a good, on-hand source of endless cat entertainment.

Feather toys, climbing things anything to stimulate them and encourage them to get up and get moving, added Hall. While theres no rule of thumb for how long cats should exercise, It really depends on the cat. Whatever theyre doing, just step it up gradually. Hall says its important to keep an eye on the cats breathingif it gets heavy, know its time to give them a rest.

Also, keeping a cats food and water bowls in separate areas or even separate floors if possible is a good way to guarantee your cat will have to migrate to eat. Some cats, its just really hard to motivate. You can do different enrichment things like they do at the zoo, said Hall, including moving their bowls around in between feedings to keep them stalking their meals.

And like Buddha, with enough activity and time, your husky cat will shed some weight and totally rock that teeny little bikini by next summer.

For updates on Buddhas progress, check out