When I came home from this last trip it appeared to me that Noël gained about 5 lbs. People had said she was a ‘big’ cat, but I guess I just did not see it.
It is a very hard job maintaining order in the zoo. Everyone is always demanding something: food, attention, affection (the usual). But what I have noticed of late with the cat pack is that the inmates seem to be running the asylum (*see note below). What I mean is that everything appears to be topsy-turvy or upside down, where the animals are telling the humans what to do and when. The normal routine of life is being disturbed by the constant pleading and manipulation of the animals, which has escalated to a fever pitch. This extends to multiple things, but mostly it is around FOOD.
Obesity in animals is a very large problem (no pun intended). Even a pound (kilo) of weight on their small frames can shorten their lives and add to health issues (I mostly worry about heart, joint, and diabetes). Trying to balance feeding for 5 cats at very different stages of their lives is becoming a full-time job. Muffy needs to eat all the time to keep up his geriatric weight of 4 lbs; the youngsters, Nine and Stella, need a higher amount of calories because they are so active; and the middle-aged cats, Noël and Kitty, each have different consumption needs – Noël cleaning everyone’s plate and Kitty eating just enough.
Solving weight and exercise issues when you are a multi-animal household is hard. You need to get every member of the family to take part to get control of the situation. I know that over weight animals, if there is no underlying health problem, get that way from consuming to many calories and/or lack of exercise. So, the food has to be controlled.
All the science and psychology and medical/vet things around how to feed and even what to feed seem to be based on a one animal at a time basis. Balancing the health needs of 7 animals (5 cats & 2 dogs), all at different growth levels, is a challenge. I really don’t want to be buying 3 or 4 different cat foods and then spend every Sunday apportioning who can have what and when for the week. That thought makes me shutter. There must be an easier way????
“Here Noël, come have some celery and carrots with Mommy.”
*I do not know the origin of the expression, “the inmates are running the asylum,” but in the old days, people with mental or emotional problems were locked up in a ‘insane or lunatic asylum.‘ It would be politically correct to call them ‘Mental Hospitals’ today, but they were by no means helping the patients to get on with their lives in a healthy way (which is my definition of a hospital). They were more like dead-end prisons for people in society that the rest of the world could not figure out how to deal with. You can imagine the chaos when the people in charge lost control of what was supposed to be happening in such a facility. Sadly, that is how I feel at the moment around feeding time at the zoo.