Like many people, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life watching my weight. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, but on the whole I don’t have too many complaints these days.
Now, my 12-year-old cat Sandy is a different story. Although I lovingly call him a big boy, I think the only word most people would use to describe him is fat. He hasn’t been weighed in almost a year, but he was 18 pounds a while back and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t lost any weight since then.
Of course we’re not the only owners of an overweight pet. Far from it, actually. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), here in the United States approximately 59% of cats and 54% of dogs are overweight—a record number.
Here’s a depressing quote from APOP’s founder, Dr. Ernie Ward: “Obesity continues to be the greatest health threat to dogs and cats. [It’s] a disease that kills millions of pets prematurely, creates immeasurable pain and suffering, and costs pet owners tens of millions of dollars in avoidable medical costs.”
Based on the amount of purring he does, I’m pretty sure Sandy isn’t suffering. He can’t jump as high as he used to, but he always manages to get where he wants to go—whether it’s a bed or the dining room table.
I don’t think we’re overfeeding him. Based on our vet’s recommendation, he gets approximately half a cup of dry food a day. He also splits a 3-ounce can with his thinner brother (whose name is Oreo, in case you’re wondering), but we’re extremely vigilant about making sure Sandy doesn’t eat more than his fair share.
Now exercise is another story. We have lots of toys scattered around the house—not to mention two large scratching posts—but Sandy prefers to spend most of his time on our bed or on the couch in the family room.
And since Sandy and Oreo are indoor cats, they don’t go outside much. I bought a leash a few years back so I could take them for walks around the neighborhood, but that didn’t work out very well. I was only able to get them to take a few steps before they sat down and refused to go any further. And yes, I tried at least a dozen times over a several-month period before putting the leash away for good.
Of course, I love Sandy no matter how much he weighs. But, I realize he’ll probably be happier and live longer with a little less meat on his bones. So if you have any (non-surgical) suggestions for helping him shed a few pounds, please let me know.
And from Sandy and the rest of the Mullally clan, Happy Holidays!