We all know that obesity is a problem with people, but it appears to be becoming a trend with our pets as well. Last month, a 39-pound cat was brought into a New Mexico animal shelter after his elderly owner could no longer care for him. The fat cat, named "Meow," became an instant celebrity, appearing on Today and Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show.

Despite his new diet, this kitty didn't make it to an episode of The Biggest Loser. He died Saturday after suffering pulmonary failure. Four veterinarians tried to save the obese feline, but nothing worked. Considering that Meow was only 2 years old, this is indeed a tragedy and a lesson for pet lovers everywhere.

I've volunteered with a cat rescue group for over a decade, and I've seen quite a few fat cats. None as large as Meow, but big enough to be unhealthy. In my experience, the cats who get this obese are the ones who are allowed to nosh down on an all-it-can-eat buffet of dry food. Owners will often put down a large bowl of kibble for the cat to scarf 24/7.

In the wild, however, cats go for fairly long periods without eating. They usually hunt at night, and then eat whatever they catch, and then go without eating until they hunt again. They're not really meant to keep eating as much as they want throughout the entire day. Cows are grazers, not cats.

Additionally, cats are carnivores. This means that their diet should be made up primarily of meat, which is found in canned wet food. Dry food contains a lot of carbohydrates like corn, rice, and wheat. Let a cat eat carbs to its heart's content and soon it will resemble a bowling ball.

I have no idea what Meow's former owner was feeding it, but it seems safe to say that it wasn't the correct diet. These days, there are many high quality pet foods on the market, made with fresh meat, vegetables, vitamins, and they're often grain-free. Do some research and get your kitty on the proper mealplan. You don't want your beloved pet to end up like poor Meow.

Is your cat overweight? What do you feed it?


Image via ThomasHawk/Flickr