This is Rocky. He weighs 22 pounds. His litter mate, Houdini, weighs nine. Both cats have been fed the same food throughout their lives. When we rescued the twosome, they were same-sized fur balls. But Rocky is a kibble ho.
The neighborhood kids call him Garfield, because he moseys around begging for food and attention. Like Garfield, he’s sassy and fearless—dogs run from him.
We wonder if we manifested the cat’s destiny by naming him “Rocky.” Perhaps if we’d named him “Cutie Pie,” he wouldn’t be so fat. At least we didn’t name him “Monster.”
There’s no doubt that Rocky can be enchanting. He likes to lie on the edge of the street and wait for folks to wander by and love on him. When there was an open house at a nearby home for sale, Rocky staked out a spot on the stoop so people had to step over him to enter. The Realtor in charge told me several folks asked if the cat came with the house. People love our fat, lazy cat. Despite the dingleberries.
Because Rocky’s too huge to clean his own rear, he’s kind of nasty back there. I take him to Canine Shear Heaven fairly often to get a potty patch (they shave around his bum, removing the hair so the dingleberries can’t adhere as well). The first time I called to make an appointment, I thought the woman on the phone referred to this as a “pooty” patch. So that’s what I call it now.
While Rocky wouldn’t win the annual fattest cat in American title (there actually is such a contest), he’s so big that our vet likes to take him in the back to show off his hugeness. Then Dr. Riggle (at North Asheville Animal Hospital) gently fusses at me for over-feeding Rocky, and we talk diet plans.
One of our problems is that Rocky has trained the kids to feed him. He follows them around, meowing and complaining, and if they don’t make a beeline for his food bowl, he’s liable to nip them on the ankles. Jane Mitchell of Miss Jane’s Pet Sitting calls him “a scheming, charismatic, calculating charmer.”
In fact, Miss Jane and Kristi King, owner of Green Earth Pet Food, have taken on the Rock & Roller as a personal challenge (they’re also smart business women who are offering us free food and services knowing I’ll write about Rocky’s Biggest Loser experience). The two of them have laid out a kitty fat camp plan, combining Kristi’s all-natural raw pet foods and Miss Jane’s exercises, to help me help Rocky lose some weight. Because, they say, there are lots of overweight cats out there that need our help.
Like humans, obese cats often contract diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and they have joint problems. While Rocky, at 6 years old, is healthy so far, our goal is to keep him that way. Plus I’ve had to force pills down his throat before, and it’s kind of like pilling a wild badger. It takes at least two people — one person to hold down 22 pounds of mad cat and one to stick a pill down this throat while avoiding his half-inch fangs.
So, two weeks ago, I removed Rocky’s food bowl from its usual spot. As soon as he noticed, he meowed and tried to trip me by wrapping himself around my ankles (like trying to avoid a bowling ball aimed at my feet).
I put him in the bathroom with one of Kristi’s raw salmon patties (so the dog couldn’t eat it first). After about 20 minutes, I checked on him. He hadn’t eaten a bite. And he was still pissed. I poured tuna juice over the patty. He ate a little. I mixed tuna with the patty. He picked out the tuna. I mixed some natural wet beef cat food with the patty. He ate it! Then he barfed it all up.
I’ve moved on to alternating Rocky’s regular kibble with the salmon patty mixed with a bit of tuna. While the raw food is healthier, lower in fat, and closer to what Rocky’s diet would be if he lived in the wild, he’s still not eating much of the salmon. Kristi says he’s got to be hungry enough. I know he’s hungry enough when the kids are standing on the dining room chairs so he can’t get to their ankles.
You’d think the cat would be thrilled to be offered raw salmon. I mean, come on, any feral cat would give a life for such a gourmet meal. But it’s hard to teach an old cat new tricks.
To be continued…
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.