Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Cat is Fat: Looking for Lessons Learned by Teaching a Cat to Live Healthy

Last Friday we had one of our cats - Jack - at the Vet.  He had been vomiting several times a day for most of the week.  Jack has gotten sick to his stomach quite often during his short 6 years, but never this frequently.  After running several tests the Vet diagnosed Jack with allergies - most likely to his food.

But the Vet had more news for us.  Jack's stomach problems were not only related to what he was eating, but also to how much and how often he was eating.  Bottom line - Jack is too fat and his excessive weight is impacting his health. 

Seriously?!?  I've been trying for years to get my family focused on eating healthier and increasing our physical activity.  Now I have to do the same for our cats?! 

Our Cat
This was not going to be easy.  How do you explain to a cat that his food bowl is no longer left out because he can't eat all the time?  How is a cat supposed to understand that no matter how long he stands on your chest and "meows," he can't have some treats? 

However, I quickly saw a potential benefit to this tricky situation.

Ellie is at that age where no matter what I do or say, I am ruining her life.  This is especially the case when it comes to food and physical activity.  When I give my daughter a new healthy food to try, she responds as if I am trying to poison her.  When I cut back on my her portions or refuse to give her a snack, she acts as if I am attempting to kill her via starvation.  When I head out the door to exercise, she whines that I never spend any time with her.  When I encourage her to get up and get moving, she screams that I am torturing her.  

What is one thing that Ellie holds near and dear to her heart?  JACK!  Who does Ellie worry about and take care of when he is sick?  JACK!

So my hope is that by involving Ellie in the process of making changes to Jack's food, eating style and amount of physical activity, she will make the connection between making smart food choices and being physically active and being healthy.  Making this transition is not going to be easy for Jack.  He is going to meow and bug us like crazy until he gets used to his new routine.  But, the Vet has promised us that he will eventually adapt to his new food and eating style.  The hope is that when we go back to the Vet in three months, Jack will be down a few pounds, vomiting less and his fur will look shinier.  My hope is that Ellie will see that while it was hard at the beginning, Jack has adapted to the changes and his health has benefited from them.

Ellie can't seem to grasp the idea of making wise choices and living a healthy lifestyle from me - hopefully she can learn it from our cat!

(That all depends on if we can survive this constant meowing!!  Ay-yi-yi!  He won't stop the meowing!!)


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