July 19, 2012 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: The quest to make a fat cat not so fat

By Correspondent
 

Last month Thor got an email from the vet notifying him that he was due for a checkup. I found the note in my spam filter.

Very clever, Thor.

But the vet was smarter and mailed him a postcard, too. It read: “Attention Thor! It’s time for a visit!”

I found the card near the litter box and scheduled an appointment.

Now, Thor is an extremely easy-going feline. Nothing rattles him except perhaps an empty food bowl, but more about that later. “You’re going to go on a road trip!” I told him.

He yawned and covered his eyes.

Since our older cat, Milo, had shredded the cardboard carrier during his last vet visit, I borrowed a sturdy plastic crate from my mother-in-law.

I set it in the middle of the living room floor. Thor immediately crawled in and made himself comfortable.

Our drive to the vet’s office was punctuated by Thor’s pitiful mews or “meeps” as we call them. While Milo yowls, growls, meows, hisses and generally makes a ruckus, Thor is the strong silent type. However, he didn’t appreciate not being able to see out the windows and he let us know.

He was much happier when we arrived at our destination. He tolerated the poking, prodding and related indignities of his exam with good cheer, and didn’t even flinch when he received his shots.

Then it was time to weigh him. I knew he’d grown a lot since his previous visit, but when the vet put him on the scale, well, a lot of Thor spilled over.

“Wow, that’s a pretty small scale,” I ventured.

The vet just looked at me. “Thor is overweight,” she pronounced.

I immediately plunged into denial. “Are you sure?” I asked. “I mean, he is a tabby and horizontal stripes aren’t very slimming.”

She pointed to the scale. My 1-year-old cat weighed 17 pounds. “He should weigh between 12 and 14 pounds.”

“Gosh, Mom. Thor is a FAT cat,” Sam said. He scooped Thor off the scale and rubbed him between his ears.

I was mortified. “He’s still wearing his winter fur,” I mumbled. “He has a nice thick coat.”

Sam agreed. “He is fluffy.”

The vet remained unswayed.

“Our other cat is slim,” I said. “Positively svelte, and he eats the same food as Thor.”

Sam shifted Thor in his arms. “Mom. We call Milo Chubsy-Wubsy.”

“Do you give Thor treats?” asked the vet.

Sam raised his eyebrows and looked at me. “Oh, yes, she does,” he said.

On our next vet visit, I’m leaving Sam at home.

I fidgeted with the cat carrier. “Well, uh, just once a day,” I said. “But he sits up and begs for them. That’s good exercise, right?”

The vet just shook her head.

We coaxed Thor back into his carrier, which somehow felt even heavier than when we arrived.

The bottom line? The cats were only to be fed 1/3 cup of dry cat food a day. No more self-feeding. Their bowls were to be set out in the morning, put away, and then put back in the evening. And NO treats.

Thor seemed discouraged by the news. He didn’t make a peep on the drive home. Well. Until he threw up.

His humiliating day ended in the tub.

The next morning, I carefully measured out 1/3 cup of food into each cat’s bowl. As usual, Milo pushed Thor out of the way and began eating out of Thor’s dish. Thor just went over to Milo’s bowl and started snacking.

A few minutes later Milo left. Thor kept right on eating. When he finally walked away from the bowls they were both nearly empty. I put them out of reach.

Soon Milo returned. He glanced to where his bowl should be. He paced. He walked in circles around the water dishes. “Yeeeoooww!” he said.

I ignored him. “Meeeeooow!” he whined.

Milo was not a happy camper. He’s a grazer not a gorger. But he was paying the penance for Thor’s gluttony.

I’m afraid I drove my family crazy over the next few days. “Do you think Thor looks thinner?” I asked repeatedly. “I think he looks thinner.”

After two weeks of the new regimen we weighed him. “Sixteen pounds!” Sam announced.

Whew! My kitty was losing weight! I gave him a treat to celebrate.

Our celebration was cut short when my husband brought in the mail. “Something here for Milo,” he said. “It’s from the vet.”

I’ve scheduled Milo’s checkup for next week. But if the vet tells me Milo is overweight, I’m going to find a new veterinarian. Preferably one with a larger scale.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/columnists. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/cindyhval


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