Monday, September 12, 2011

Weighty Matters

In this day and age, it’s not surprising that pets have weight problems, just as their owners do. Much of the food produced for cats and dogs is unhealthy in the long run, and domesticated animals don’t get the exercise that they should. For my part, I do try to feed my cats nutritious food. The hard food, which constitutes most of their diet, is California Natural, which is a good brand, but the soft food is Fancy Feast which, though decent, is not exactly a ‘health’ food. But then, when cats won’t eat other items, the merely adequate will have to do.

Exercise is another problem. I try to play with my cats but how strenuous that is depends upon them. Tungsten rarely plays, but her weight is not a problem - unless the problem is that she is too light. Tucker is quite active while playing, though Renn’s favourite activity is to lie in a nylon tunnel and ambush a string-toy as it flies by a hole. Josie, my Chubs, flops on the floor and grabs at the toys when they near her; she doesn’t chase them.

I keep an eye on the cats’ weight. I put them on an accurate set of scales quarterly, and see if anything changes. I decided to do this after Tungsten's last visit to the veterinarian. I was told that my tiny cat had lost a pound. When an animal has only seven of them to begin with, the loss of that amount is worrisome. But the next time she was weighed, the amount was back to the previous, normal weight. I suspect there was an error in the scales, as the orange one’s numbers have remained relatively constant thereafter.

I am currently a bit anxious about Tungsten, though. Her stools have been very liquidy recently, though these have alternated with more solid waste. (It’s rather sad that I can differentiate between the crap the various cats leave in the litter-box; but then, I meet it every day, more than I do my friends…) Otherwise, she is fine, eating as well as always, drinking her usual amount and being as active and/or inert as she always has been. It’s why weighing my animals is important: it may be the first sign of a serious defect in their health. In some cases, loss (or gain) in poundage may be the only warning an owner gets before the situation becomes critical.

Josie is my surprise. She’s lost more than a quarter of a kilogram in the past six months. (That’s about half a pound in real measurements.) I think the stairs in my new house have helped with that: the food dish is on the main level while the litter-boxes are in the basement. As well, she does play chase with Renn and Tucker once in a while. And I think she is eating less hard food; her appetite has always been comprehensive rather than large, so she doesn’t fill up on soft food then repair to the hard food to eat to excess. She is my second lightest cat. I should stop calling her Chubs, really. But her frame is small, if you look at her; larger than Tungsten’s but not as big as the boys’, so what fat there is, is prominently displayed. I’m glad that Josie is losing some of her pounds, but she’ll always be my Chubs.

Renn has gained 0.17 kilograms (a third of a pound) but I’m not worried about him. He’s active and healthy, so far as I can determine. He’s a big cat. He has the biggest body of the four cats in my house, and when I pet him, I can feel his leanness. His weight is due to his natural size, and he could probably add more heft to his bones without causing himself trouble.

My anxiety rests with Tucker. That roly poly sausage has gained almost three quarters of a kilogram (more than one and a half pounds). I’m not sure where he’s getting all this from. He eats no more than Josie (admittedly, those two are my greatest eaters) but is fairly active, and is the most energetic at play-time. I have noticed that after most small bits of attention from me, a scratch behind the ears, a stroke on the side of the face, he will wander over to the food bowl and eat one or two kernels. It’s never much, and I’m not sure if it’s a nervous reaction to attention. Certainly, he asks for chin-scratches and head-rubs all the time, so I don’t do anything he doesn’t want, yet he often follows this with a bite or two.

I may have to replace the food in the bowl at strategic times - perhaps during the night - with a special recipe, a ‘diet’ formula. I don’t want to do this, as all the cats love their food and their history with healthy comestibles hasn’t been flavoured with enjoyment. I will give the roly poly one another three months and decide after Christmas. After all, who wants to go on a diet during the Yuletide?

And yet, really, can anyone tell me where his neck went?

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