And THE WEIGHT ISSUE
I love animals, I’m going to just put that out there. We’ve had dogs, now chickens, ducks, cats, and a rabbit, but I think my favorite animals are the ones that are like me, on the independent side. I suppose that’s why the chickens, cats, and I all get along so well.
For most of my marriage Paul and I only had dogs, and for the most part, only one at a time, however that changed 6 years ago when we moved into our house and a few weeks later inherited some chickens. Not long after we were in love with poultry, and then a neighbor gave us a rabbit. Four and half years later his mother offered us a rescue cat, a tortoiseshell they called Perker. The first time she offered her to us we politely declined, although the following year both of our youngest girls (now 18 and 10) spent a week with their mamaw and begged us for ‘Perker’; we couldn’t say no.
They brought the cat home, and she stayed in our detached garage for a few months. Her back story was that she used to have a family, but when a tornado struck East Texas, she was soon without a home, and when no one claimed her, she stayed at the vet’s office my father-in-law worked at for some time before he eventually brought her home to their house.
She’s fixed, and it’s evident by her pouch that she’s had a litter of kittens, but where they are now is anyone’s guess. When my daughters would visit East Texas, ‘Perker’ would do everything in her power to get close to them.
Like most cats, she slept a lot, but every time we visited the garage, she would spare a minute or two for us, however she always purred loudest when we paid attention to her. Soon we brought her inside, just to see how she’d do with our dog.
She doesn’t like dogs, so whenever she’d see our Sheltie, she’d start a fight with him, but other than that, she loved being in the house, and it wasn’t long before she started living in the house with us, and my husband even changed her name to Meow Meow Kitty Kitty, although for a time he thought maybe she infected him with a mind controlling parasite. No, really it’s true.
Cats can be infected with ‘mind controlling’ parasites that cause toxoplasmosis, which increases risk-taking behavior. My husband did not have the parasite; he got tested, and he was fine.
In time our Sheltie had to move out to the garage, because he was growing incontinent due to age, and Meow Meow became queen of her domain, literally letting herself go; she only weighed 8 lbs when we got her, but now she’s tipping the scale at close to 12 lbs!
About three months ago my 18 year old’s best friend dropped off one of her cats with us. Originally I wasn’t exactly excited about this; I’ve had cats before, and their temperaments can be difficult. Meow Meow gets urinary tract infections when she’s stressed, which causes her to urinate in areas other than her litter box for some reason, so naturally I was concerned Meow Meow wouldn’t be too happy about this new addition.
We’ve had this Nebelung or Long-haired Russian Blue a few months, but it took me some time to warm up to her too; I didn’t want her replacing Meow Meow, or for there to be issues with both cats living together. We slowly introduced them, over a period of a few weeks by swapping their food bowls (so they could get each others scents) and showed them each other through a window, however Meow Meow showed no interest until she actually saw Cake in her (Meow Meow’s) house. Then she didn’t want her around at all.
We bought cat pheromone diffusers, a couple of different kinds, but I’m not entirely sure if they worked, because we haven’t been using them the past several weeks, and the cats are still acting the same way toward each other.
Meow Meow is around 6 years old, and she’s quite reserved, whereas Cake is a little over a year old and full of energy, which she tries out on Meow on many occasions. Depending on their moods, they either engage in this or they give each other a wide berth, though I wouldn’t necessarily call it play as of yet. I don’t think Meow Meow is familiar with the term. She might think Cake is just annoying her, but I’m happy to report that there have been no UTIs (with the resultant cat urine where it should not be) and the hissing, growling, and such is at a minimum.
At times Meow Meow will chase Cake out of her (Meow’s) room, which is my bedroom, but most of the time they can co-habit the same area and are content to just stare at each other. They even share each other’s food bowls which makes dieting Meow Meow impossible, because I never know exactly how much she eats. I’m sure there are wonderful suggestions out there, however Meow Meow spends 23 hours a day sleeping, and when she eats, it’s literally a couple of bites of food spread out over that hour, which is spread out over that 23 hour sleeping period, meaning she won’t sleep all 23 hours at once; she will get up for a bite to eat and go back to sleep. In the meantime Cake eats most of the food out of both food bowls, that are in different rooms at opposite sides of the house; that doesn’t deter her.
We used to joke when we first saw Cake eat, which resembles a dog eating, all at once, not pausing once for a breath, that when she saw Meow Meow she had a goal to look just like her, because her size is intimidating. Cake weighs an appropriate 8 lbs, like Meow Meow did when we were first given her, but with the way Cake eats, it won’t be surprising if she does catch up to Meow Meow. I don’t seriously think she will, because she is very active. We were even told recently that this behavior is not new; she was eating everyone else’s food at her old home too.
I know Meow Meow’s weight is concerning, but none of our pets have had weight issues before. Prior to meeting my husband (2001) I had two other cats at different times, and they never had eating disorders; they were slim even if they displayed typical cat behavior, ie sleeping all day. One developed a urinary issue, but we found out that was a common problem, and he ended up having to be put on special cat food.
When Paul and I married he had a sable and white Sheltie named Kirby who was around 8 years old, and less than a year into our marriage we purchased a female tri-color Sheltie we called Roxy. They were both great dogs who loved to eat just about anything, however both dogs were physically fit and loved going on walks.
Last year we took in a Labrador Retriever service dog, named Marley, for most of the year. She came to us extremely overweight, because her owners prior to us, and before even those owners, didn’t measure out how much to feed her; they just dumped food into her bowl. She had a barrel shaped stomach, and being a service animal she didn’t regularly get much exercise.
We started cutting down her food, and of course she didn’t like that; she was also used to getting treats whenever she liked. Those were also off limits, and in the time we had her she slimmed down to an appropriate and healthy weight.
So we’ve successfully helped animals lose weight, and none of our other animals have turned out to be obese, but no matter what we do with Meow Meow, like decreasing her food, (we’ve been told not to totally cut her food off, because she could die), and getting toy feeders, which makes the animal work for their food, she still doesn’t lose weight. She only gets bigger.
I’ve wondered if it’s her thyroid, however the only symptom she really seems to exhibit of hypothyroidism is lethargy and weight gain, and in Meow Meow, it’s totally normal. She doesn’t drink very much water, and she’s so lazy she hardly uses the bathroom. I write this as if she’s a person like you and me.
Cake eats and drinks a lot. A lot more than Meow Meow does, however she actually uses the bathroom on a regular basis. Continually. And I honestly think that is what Meow Meow’s issue is; that she doesn’t get rid of the waste as much as she should. Now this is supposedly normal, but Cake is still ~ 8 pounds and eats considerably more food than Meow and also has a lot more energy, whereas Meow Meow sleeps all day long, eats a tiny bit of food, maybe drinks a sip or two of water, and only uses the bathroom twice a day, if even that. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but I don’t think that’s healthy, though how do you make a cat do anything?