I have a fat cat.
I took Officer Krupke to the vet yesterday for his annual check up after carefully cornering him in the walk-in closet. As I was stuffing umpteen pounds of fur and tail into the carrier amongst a background chorus of “Meow! Meow! Not the blue box! Anything but the blue box!” I wondered if the carrier had always been this small. And when I picked it up by one hand to carry cat and caboodle to the car, I was leaning slightly the left despite all the time I’ve spent lifting weights. Maybe I could have saved money on dumbbells by picking up my cat instead.
When we got to the vet I took the offense, immediately commenting on his weight before anyone else could and declaring that I wanted to do something about it. I suppose this is like a fat person who makes jokes about their size before anyone else has a chance to. They pulled out the scale and weighed Krupke to discover he’d gained two pounds since last year. Two pounds is a lot for a cat.
Suddenly I felt so guilty. I had forgotten about this feeling that I felt so frequently when I was morbidly obese. It was the feeling of shame that I’d let this problem get so far out of control. I’d known I needed to do something about it earlier and now we were on the verge of driving off the cliff of serious health problems if we didn’t take a sharp U-turn. I have been a very bad kitty mommy. It’s no one’s fault but my own that Krupke has gained so much weight. I have complete control over what he eats. It’s not like he’s sneaking out to the car and driving to Kentucky Fried Chicken in the middle of the night to binge on crispy wings. At least I don’t think he is. I do leave my keys on the kitchen counter. I might want to start keeping track of the mileage on the odometer just to be sure.
“What are you feeding him?” The vet with one blue eye and one brown eye asked me.
“Science Diet Light. I give him exactly ¾ of a cup a day.” which translated in my eyes to “See! I already have him on low-calorie food! I am not an irresponsible pet owner! Please don’t call pet protection services and take my kitty away!”
“Do you feed him anything else?” he asked. I copped to feeding him three treats a night after dinner. Funny how I forgot to mention the tuna juice I let him lick up when I make tuna melt casserole or the little piece of chicken I sometimes give him when grilling chicken breasts. Surely those don’t really have calories, right? It reminded me of the days when I was morbidly obese and I’d tell myself I wasn’t eating that badly, even though I’d just eaten half a bag of chocolate peanut butter cups hidden in my desk drawer. I was afraid they would judge me if I told them the truth, so I lied to make myself look better.
The thing is, a half ounce of chicken breast might be insignificant to me, but to a small creature like a cat it’s a significant part of their daily food intake. All these little slips added up to two pounds over the course of a year. And honestly, I barely noticed it. Krupke is the only cat I’ve ever owned and usually the only cat I ever see, so he just looks cat-sized to me. But it is time to admit he has a problem because I cannot let my baby get any fatter. I want to keep him around for as long as possible because the very idea that he might not be immortal makes me want to crawl under my desk, hug me knees and rock back and forth for a couple hours.
I took him home, along with a couple cans and a bag of prescription diet cat food, which they forgot to charge me for. I considered not saying anything about it, but when I come in to weigh Krupke a month from now I will mention it and pay for them because I am honest like that. I will carefully measure all his food from now on, which I had been doing before, but I will be extra-careful now to account for any treats and subtract that from his daily portions. I’ll go back to the vet every month to weigh him and make sure he is losing a couple of ounces each month. Just like a human, we don’t want him to lose weight too quickly. I’m going to make an effort to play with him more too, because as a house cat he doesn’t get much exercise. He is very fond of the treadmill, but only as a bed. He likes how warm it gets after I’ve walked a couple miles.
Hopefully my baby will get thinner and I can stop feeling guilty. It’s so ironic that I’ve managed to lose nearly 200 pounds in the past three years, but my cat has gained 3-4 pounds in that time. I imagine thin parents of obese children must have similar feelings of guilt. But unlike a kid, Krupke can’t use his lunch money to buy Snickers bars from the vending machine, so hopefully this will be an easier problem to solve then childhood obesity. Essentially Krupke will be living in PastaQueen’s fat farm for the rest of his life.
This morning as I was making breakfast I heard the front closet door squeak open. Then there was a beeping sound. I turned around and I swear to God that Krupke was standing on my scale with his paws against the wall, weighing himself. I’ve never seen him do that before. Does he know that I think he’s fat? Am I giving him a complex? I picked him up (good thing I’ve been weight-lifting) and gave him a hug and told him, “I love you no matter how fat you are.” Then he squirmed and jumped down with a big thud which hopefully didn’t wake the neighbors.