Welcome to the wilds! New Jersey for me was like crossing the border into Tijuana. Sure, the new lifestyle was crazy, but no one would ever admit to living there. When my husband’s job was relocated here in August 2010, we both were frightened. Now we’re learning about life, love, and marriage in this strange new culture. Feel free to tag along for the adventure.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Diet Disasters

We’ve all been there, trying to lose a pound or ten. We’ve all fought hard; only to get on the scale months later and see that we have actually gained five pounds rather than lost it. My friends, we are not alone in our struggle. The animal kingdom too has its difficulties with weight.

My husband and I adopted two rescue cats from the Humane Society in Northeast D.C. almost two years ago. Beast, the smaller of the two, has always been tiny, agile, and fluffy. He has the characteristic tuxedo with white gloves, and alluring green eyes. He’s just cute and everyone wants to pet him. He’s like the baby of the family. Dante, on the other hand, has always been lazy, hungry, and a little chubby. Since the day we brought him, he’s liked to eat. He’s an orange tabby cat with amber eyes, and no overly distinguishable characteristics. He’s kind of like the suburban teen who is into emo and lounges around complaining how life is unfair.

Six months ago during their routine visit to the animal hospital, the vet had said it was time Dante be put on a diet. He had gotten on the scale, and much to my surprise he was a 17 pound hunk of feline flesh. Beast weighed in at about 11 pounds, and was the perfect weight for his size. He purred as if to say, “I know…I’m perfect.” Dante’s ears, on the other hand, flattened against his head and he crawled back into the carrier refusing to come out again until we were home. Immediately, we switched him to a higher protein diet with less fillers, reduced portion sizes, constantly poked fun at his obesity calling him names like Tubba Lubba and Fatty McPatty to encourage him to eat less…and I thought we were making progress.

Then, this week I took Dante to a New Jersey veterinary clinic, because he had developed an ear infection. Off we went with one unhappy kitty stuffed into his carrier. As I met the cat doctor, I explained Dante’s history with food and his weight problem.

“He was 17 pounds in March,” I said proudly, “But we have been working to get him down to 14.”

“Put him on the scale and let’s see how much farther we have to go,” The vet replied.

I plopped the orange mass of cat on the scale, his fur flying everyone with his frustration at being at the hospital, and he weighed in at a total of 18.4 pounds! He had gained weight! 21% of his body weight should not exist on his bones! Kitty was headed on the unhealthy highway toward heart disease, and it was time to take extreme measures.

Brokenhearted, I packed the fatty back into his carrier, promising the vet by March he would lose some of that mass.

The vet, who judged us like we hadn’t actually been trying to reduce his size said in parting, “It’s important for his health, ‘cause he’s such a nice guy, we want to keep him around.”

That night we adopted a new regiment and reduced his portions further. I quickly discovered how hungry he got just before dinner. Feeding time is nine o’clock, and Dante follows me around the house from about eight o’clock throwing expressive tantrums in each room as if to be a constant reminder that food should be served. I have made this part of his exercise plan though. Now, for a good ten minutes before I actually put food in his bowl I walk around the house, and he trots with me. He runs in front of my legs as I walk away from the bowls, and gallops happily back when I walk toward it. I thought it was working well. However, yesterday he wised up to my game. He actually nipped me on the walk away, as if to say, “Knock it off, I’m hungry!”

I plan to get a scale and keep weighing him to stay on top of this unfortunate weight gain, but for now he's just one fat cat.
18.4 Pounds of Ferocious Feline Flesh

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