Cats Don’t Count Calories

Fat orange cat sleeping

My neighborhood has a problem and it’s called fat-cat syndrome. All winter long we felines were kept indoors with little stimulation. No reason to get off our soft beds and stretch, run,  or jump. Then Spring came with it’s rain, wind and a few tornadoes. Nobody wanted to be out in that!

Now it is finally July and the blessed bugs have arrived!  The sunny side of the street has lizards ripe for chasing. I notified my owner with a yowl that signified “This cat has GOT to get out, NOW!” and she obliged.

My goal is to gather my four friends and go frog hunting. When I go to get Bubbles next door,  I don’t even recognize her! She resembles a couch pillow, all round and puffy! “It’s the beefy kitty treats. I just couldn’t get enough” she purrs. “The label says a serving size is 2 treats per day. Ha! I had no less than 20 a day since granny moved in and can’t remember whether  she has fed me or not.”

Gently, I explain to her that since she weighs 11 pounds, her total calories needed for a day would be 300 (or 25 calories/per pound for cats).  With each treat supplying 10 calories, she has consumed  half her daily requirement! That would be like a human eating 1,000 calories of butter. Not healthy!Persian Harlequin Cat, 6 Months Old, Sitting In Front Of White B

She flicked her tail at me and wobbled down the path to Tiny’s house.

He met us in the garden, his Maine Coon coat covered in dirt. “You missed an epic battle! I chased a blue-tailed skink all around the tomatoes. He got away but I got this trophy – his tail!” boasted Tiny. I smile politely, then do a double take! Tiny is… BIG. Seems to be as wide as he is tall. “What are you eating?” I ask.

“Ahhh, I have developed  a weakness for fresh cream” he replies. My warning that we cats don’t digest dairy very well doesn’t even register. Additionally, milk’s high calorie count is a contributing factor to feline obesity. And many cats have lactose intolerance, which leads to chronic diarrhea and upset stomach. If he keeps chugging the cream, I  fear Tiny  may not be able to make it through the kitty door!

Our last stop is a small bungalow where siblings Fritz and Mitch live. They jump down from the front porch and land beside me with a THUD. Whoaaa, big boys! “Yeah, we did nothing this winter. Literally. And yet the magic food bowl kept supplying us with a gelatinously good liver pate” purrs Fritz. Oh dear, this is worse than I feared! All of my kitty friends have succumbed to FAT CAT syndrome.

After we pounced on and pursued frogs for the better part of the morning, I returned home to my computer to research why so many cats get big. And bigger. Here are some things for owners to be aware of:

1. Large food portions. Read the directions and feed according to your cat’s IDEAL weight, not actual weight.

2. Free-feeding. Leaving food out in the bowl all day – a bad idea because cats will eat when bored.

3. Competition for food. In households with multiple cats, when one cat goes to the food bowl others are often driven there out of curiosity or competitive instinct instead of real hunger.

4. Too many treats, or the wrong kind of treats. (Don’t give them cheese, milk or carbs)

Help a kitty out – only feed us at meal time!