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On Diet & Exercise


I took BOTH of my cats to the vet at the same time a couple of weeks ago… ALL BY MYSELF!

Now I know that may not sound like all that big a deal to you because after all, people all over the world do that everyday, right? But not so in MY house! 

For some reason, we’ve had WAY more than our share of traumatic events surrounding vet visits, (whether its enroute to the vet or in the office), so after Jeter passed away I was a little lax about taking Joba in for his checkup. After all, he’s a strictly indoor cat and I have to tranquilize him in order to take him to the vet which I HATE doing! But once Pippin came to live with us last summer I knew I really needed to get him in for a checkup and booster shots. So here’s the deal…. I tried THREE TIMES to get him there and was only successful with the help of powerful medication (for him).

I had to cancel the 1st appointment after 30 unsuccessful minutes of trying to get him in the cat carrier. So my 2nd try I enlisted the help of my parents. Surely 3 able-bodied adults could get a cat in a carrier, right? WRONG! First of all, he’s a BIG guy. His weight had ballooned to 23+ pounds after his playmate died and 2nd of all, he was HIGHLY motivated and even though we were careful to use an element of surprise, I gave up after finding myself prostrate on the floor with a gash in my leg that I feared would require stitches.

So…. for my 3rd and ultimately successful try, I employed the use of the great equalizer…. medication. And wouldn’t you know it? Even in a sedated state, Joba proved to still be a rather formidable opponent. I got him in the car carrier, but I have to say it was touch and go for a while. Once in the office however, the Vet was firm and direct.

Joba was seriously overweight!

And if we wanted to avoid dire consequences like diabetes & heart disease, we simply had to put Joba on a diet & exercise program!

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried putting a cat on a diet, but it’s way easier said than done! Especially when the new kitten in the house is eating much yummier, higher calorie food!

As for exercising a cat… is there any feat more daunting than trying to coax a 10-year old fat cat off the couch? And what made it even more challenging is that Joba has never really been into playing. Who knows why? He’s just no into it! I thought maybe Pippin could get him moving some, but for the most part, my overtures were met with spitting and hissing.

But the fact remained that once upon a time Joba was quite athletic. I used to find him in all sorts of high places (like in the photo above). Sometimes I even wondered if he could in fact…. fly? So… I developed my own exercise program for Joba. I told him that if he wanted his supper, he’d have to get up and retrieve every morsel. He stubbornly resisted my efforts. In the beginning, I had to be satisfied with him just getting UP and moving a foot or two for each kibble. But little by little, he began moving more, especially if he thought the little guy might be lurking. And by February of this year (6 months after the vet’s ultimatum) he was actually trotting up to 10 feet for his kibble.

And the best part was that I was reasonably certain that he was actually losing weight because he was feeling lighter when I picked him up. Of course when I mentioned this to anyone (other than my Mom), I was met with hysterical laughter. And I had to admit, he really didn’t LOOK thinner, so I couldn’t be sure. But, as the weeks rolled by he was getting faster and faster when we played the food game, and it even seemed to me that he was enjoying it, or maybe he was just enjoying the treats, but either way I was certain he was really losing weight!

So it was a couple of weeks ago that I was cautiously optimistic about going back to the Vet for an annual check up and  weigh-in. I bought a new, soft top-loading carrier for the occasion (which worked like a charm) and was hoping for a 2-3 pound weight loss so when Dr Arfmann (and I swear I did am NOT make his name up) came back and told me that Joba had lost 6 pounds in a year I wanted to do a backflip (emphasis on the “wanted to”). He was of course concerned that he might be ill, since he said (and I quote) he had “never seen ANY healthy cat lose THAT much weight in a year”! But Joba seems very healthy and dare I say it?>>>> Back to his old athletic self! He’s more active and seems happy for the first time since his buddy Jeter passed away.

And I’ve actually done some research and found that most doctors agree that a 1 lb. loss in weight in a cat is comparable to a 10 lb. loss in a human, which makes Joba’s 6 lb. weight loss all the more impressive. I’m so proud of my big guy! All of us left that doctor’s office with a bounce in our step! (And relishing the opportunity to triumphantly tell a few select individuals “I told you so”! ) The doc said he could still lose another pound or two, but probably won’t at his age. Either way, I hope this means that we’ll be enjoying Joba’s company for several more years to come!

(There actually is a good deal of scientific evidence to show that indoor cats really shouldn’t be eating their food out of a bowl, but instead “need” to be hunting and “working” for their good! Click here to read a very interesting article on this subject.)

So… what do YOU think of Joba’s progress?

I’d also LOVE to know if any of you have had success helping an overweight pet lose weight and if so, what strategies you used! And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.

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