Cats, like humans, come in all shapes and sizes. We have our share of little cats (like Marilee, Shady, Emily…) all of whom are far from being kittens; they’re just small slim cats. But we also have our share of the plus-size cats, and just like humans, we need to consider whether the plus-sizing is a health issue, or just the way the cat is.
When we had Pen 5 closed, it was more noticeable how many of those cats were large-size varieties. Chinook, Adam, May, Capilano – none of them were shrimps. With some concern for their size, their food was changed to a higher-protein variety, but they liked it so much, they just ate more of it and seemed to gain more weight! We soon reverted to the ordinary variety… Now that Pen 5 is open, some of them are getting around a bit more, and with the constant stream of feline visitors, the concentration of large cats in there is no longer so obvious.
Being overweight, in cats as in humans, can lay them open to a variety of health concerns. Both Sid and Marmalade are plus-size and are also diabetic; med-staff monitor them carefully to make sure their insulin levels are under control.
As with humans, there are two important parts to weight-control: diet and exercise. At the Sanctuary, there is always dry food out for the sake of the shyer cats who don’t want to eat at mealtimes, or who don’t like the wet food. So the only way to control intake is to cage the cat – and that obviously then cuts out the possibility of exercise. Newcomers Cookie and Carla are decidedly tubby – Carla can be a bit crabby with cats and sometimes with humans, but she likes to play, and volunteers are encouraged to get her moving as much as possible.
Any visitor to the double-wide trailer knows Deety; this boy likes to stay on his shelf in the laundry-room, but it was noticed that his size increased and his ease of movement decreased. Med-staff Catherine would take him down to the back gate and encourage him to walk back; Deety now not only comes down by himself, but occasionally comes out and visits in the back courtyard (especially when he feels that the dinner service is a little late)
Another newcomer is Eiffel – this 26-lb boy is not just tubby, he’s a LARGE cat (and a very sweet one); currently caged while he’s in the settle-in phase, he should be out in the general population soon.
Sometimes with the long-haired cats it’s hard to tell whether it’s fluff or pounds. Looking at Lorelei and Autumn in the front courtyard, you could be excused for thinking we have too many tubby tabbies; a little petting quickly establishes that a lot of Autumn is fluff and Lorelei is solid!
When volunteer Maureen blogged about her beloved Buster recently, she also wrote about Buster’s size issues.
Buster was contacted by his vet’s office with a proposal to join their “Biggest Loser” contest. We of course accepted as he is weighing in at 10.85kg (24lbs) and he is not getting any younger. I have had Buster on a grain-free diet for a year now but to no avail. We have found this food makes him hungrier and of course I succumb to his demands when he is hungry! Knowing that Buster was an unwilling participant and disliked trips to the vet he participated by Skype. I brought him in to have all of his tests done (which of course he had to be sedated for) get his nails clipped and a nice little haircut for the summer. After the full stats were analyzed Buster’s goal was to lose 13lbs over a 37 week period.
We started Buster on his new food – which contains more fibre to allow him to feel fuller longer and he seems to be okay with the transition. We do of course reach his quota by 2:00pm though…baby steps, baby steps…
A phone-call recently from the vets told us that Buster was their “Biggest Loser” for the July/August period, having lost an astonishing 12% of his body-fat (1.3kg/2.9lbs) and I went down to collect his prize.
(the next update will be Buster showing off his new Speedo)
Blog by Brigid Coult & Maureen Lahaise