There have been signs my cat was really, really fat for a while. Most notably, when friends and relatives see Mabel, they proclaim “wow, you cat is really, really fat!”
Too fat to fit on a lap. In human terms, that’s like being too fat for pants.
Then, there was the fact that she burst a large men’s shoebox lying down in it – then continued to sleep in the box – then gnawed off the side of the box that had the size on it. She ATE THE SIZE LABEL. Whether from shame or hunger, I don’t know.
Also, twice in the past year I’ve had to tell the library that my cat ate my library books. Yep. She chews on hardcover books with plastic jackets. This one reflected the most poorly on me. Of all stock characters, the last one I want to be is “single woman whose cat ruins her relationship with the library.” There are just too many sad things about it.
The last straw came this week. I limit Mabel’s food intake, but that’s not enough for her. I’ve found her sneaking crumbs from dishes left in the sink. If my dog leaves extra food, Mabel will gobble it up – then, predictably, vomit. You might say that cats don’t vomit just to be jerks, but I bet that people who might say that have never had a cat. It was clearly some kind of protest for more food, like a reverse hunger strike. But last Saturday, when I nearly tripped over my cat eating her own dogfood vomit, I knew we had a problem. Join me on my one-week journey to cure feline obesity:
Step 1: Confront the problem
Censored because unlike Mabel, I have the decency to be horrified by this.
While my cat was purring in my lap, I scooped her up and herded us both onto my scale. I looked down and saw a number that I hope I never see again unless I am nine months pregnant. It was bad. Real bad. Mabel’s a lady, so I won’t give the number, but let’s just it’s less than 20 but more than 10 … But it rounds to 20. Okay?
Step 2: Research
According to internet sources, Mabel should weigh 10 pounds, 12 at most. So, she’s about 50% – 100% over her ideal body weight. She’s not a human, but if she were, her BMI would be like 90. That’s the point where they stop using regular categories – overweight, obese – and start using descriptions that sounds like a cross between a superhero, a kiddie pageant division, and a Taco Bell menu item. Super-Mega-Obese. Fantastically Obese Supreme. Obviously, me and Fatty Bell Grande had some work to do.
Step 3: Plan
Did you know that PetMD exists? It’s WebMD for animals, and is probably where cats go to research their symptoms and find out that they have lupus and AIDS. It also gives you a plan of action if your cat is a Seven-Layer Tubby Pro-Am. I picked my areas to focus on – food and exercise. Of course.
Step 4: Food
According to PetMD, you shouldn’t leave cat food out all day. To that I say, if my cat would allow a bowl of food to sit out uneaten for more than five freaking minutes I wouldn’t have this problem. She binge eats it all as soon as I set down the bowl. I actually do measure it and I’m not giving her too much.
Another option is a low-carb diet, but I’m afraid that Mabel’s going to turn super annoying and never stop talking about how many carbs are in whatever she just ate, just like every human I’ve ever met on a low-carb diet. Okay, also I have 3/4 of a bag of my regular cat food left. I’ll buy the Atkins cat food when it’s time to restock, but let’s not go crazy here.
I can’t believe I’ve made a plan for my cat to go on the South Beach diet.
Step 5: Exercise
Cats immediately become suspicious and combative when you try to make them do anything, so getting Mabel to exercise on command wasn’t easy. Basically I’d try to get her to do something, she’d run away, and I’d chase her for a bit. Well, she was running, at least.
Under the “my cat is a douchebag” file, we can add that Mabel CAN exercise … on her terms. For instance, when I had to go to the basement earlier today, she bolted as fast as she could to get down there before the door closed, her enormous slack belly swaying the whole way. I left her down there, figuring that maybe she’d get some accidental exercise chasing a spider or something. At the very least, it meant several hours where she wasn’t eating anything. That, or she was eating an entire family of mice. Who’s to say? But mice are super low carb, so it’s fine.
Step 6: Acceptance
During a second pass at Google, I learned that my cat is certifiably insane. “Well yeah,” you might say. “She’s a CAT.” It’s actually a thing, though! It’s called “psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior,” which in layman’s terms translates to “so crazy she ate herself fat.” So, I haven’t done anything wrong. My cat just has an eating disorder. My life is a Lifetime movie starring Tracy Gold. Symptoms? Obsessed with food, grumpy about food, and “excessive solicitation of interspecific interactions.” What this means is that every time the cat acts like she likes me, it’s because if I don’t feed her she’s going to have to eat my face off, which she is too lazy and fat to do. That also explains why, before meal times, she essentially gives my dog a lap dance.
In leaner times (she actually still uses this for, you know, online dating).
So, there’s good news! By the end of the week, when we stepped on the scale, Mabel and I lost a half a pound! Unfortunately, it was probably all me. All that cat-chasing really gets your heart going.
Update: it has now been a week since this experiment, and today Mabel tried to steal a French fry from my 3-year-old nephew, even though it’s only okay when I do that.