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The Weighty Issue of Chubby Pets

While I work for a pet care company, and write pet care articles, I have to confess I own a chubby pet. My cat Jake, not as plump as he used to be, is still not quite at ideal his weight. Jake's behavior towards food is surprisingly dog-like. He begs, he scrounges, he sneeks food when no one is looking, and he does so unapologetically. My older cat Marvin also loves food, but will stop eating when full and has never been anything but fit and trim. Keeping Jake at a good weight is by far the most challenging part of pet ownership for me. Here are a few examples...

Cat Food Location: The dry cat food can not be kept in a lower cabinet as Jake will open the cabinet and chew a hole in the cat food bag and feed himself (a lot). The cabinet door where the food is kept above the stove can not be accidentally left open. I realized this last week in the middle of the night when I heard a loud crash, and found that my cat tried to jump from the top of the refridgerator to the cabinet were the food is kept. He missed the cabinet and belly flopped on the stove making a racket as a pan catapulted across the counter. (Counter hopping is not kosher, but done frequently when out of eyesight.)

People Food Location: No people food can be left out at any time. Only a couple days ago I forgot to put the bread away right away, and found that Jake jumped on the counter chewed through plastic bag and ate a chunk of the bread. As I said to Jake, "Seriously Jake the bread? Cats are supposed to be meat eaters." Similarly, the only way for plates to not be licked clean is to emediately rinse them off after eating.

A Dog Proof Trash Can: Yes, I need a dog proof trash can because of my cat. I am a big fan of the trash cans with a top latch. However, this morning when I took out the trash I was challenged by the fact the top edge and that folds over the can had been chewed to pieces, but he didn't get to the trash, so one point for me.

Loud Meal Times: I don't need to worry about sleeping in, and often don't need an alarm clock as I am loudly summonned to breakfast by Jake every morning. Similarly at night Jake starts meowing more than an hour before dinner time. To hear him when the cat food can is cracked open one would think I keep my cat on a starvation diet. Yet as the cable man once note, "Wow, that's one well-fed cat."

Fortunately, Jake is a bit trimmer now than when the cable man last saw him. However, they were hard fought pounds. Keeping pets at a healthy weight is important as overweight pets can have negative health effects that are similar to those that overweight people can experience. Due to the size of cats and dogs a few extra pounds on them is much more significant than a few extra pounds on you or me. Changing to a lighter food, limiting intake of food and treats, and increasing exercise can be very helpful. For dogs in family situations, too many treats is commonly the source of a weight problem as multiple members of the family think they are the only one sneaking the dog a treat, as the dog lives high on the hog. Battling weight can be a challenge for an owner, especially since the one in need of weight loss, like Jake, has no interest in cooperating. But a healthy pet is certainly worth the challenges presented.




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