Introducing Buddy’s Old Fashioned Meat-based Vegan Cat Food!

You’ve got a dilemma, one that has tormented many a vegan before you. 

While you’ve joined the ranks of the enlightened and meat-free, you also have a cat…and your cat eats meat.

Your vegan side urges you to put kitty on a strict plant-based kibble regimen. Your rational side reminds you she depends on you and cutting meat from her diet will seriously harm her.

Angry cat eating salad
“I will murder you for this, human!”

Cats may be obligate carnivores, but how can you admonish the meat-eating savages of humankind when your four-legged friend gobbles down chicken and turkey flesh every day?

Fear not, vegan friends, for a genuine solution is upon us! I present to you Buddy’s Old-Fashioned Meat-Based Vegan Cat Food. It’s vegan with meat added, meaning kitty gets all the nutrients she needs for a healthy, happy life while you get to tell everyone that you AND your cat are vegans.

After all, what is the purpose of veganism if you can’t tell everyone you meet that you’re a vegan?

Buddy’s Old-Fashioned Meat-Based Vegan Cat Food, available wherever fine cat foods are sold.

Kitten and potato
Kitten and potato sold separately.

Study Says Most US Cats Are Obese: How Do We Handle the Problem?

The subject of fat cats has come up quite a bit lately here on Pain In The Bud.

First we wrote about Barsik, the 40-pound chonkster who requires a stroller for transport because he’s too big for a carrier. On Thursday we blogged about Mikhail Galin, who hatched an elaborate plan to board his 22-pound tabby on a flight after Russian Airlines told him his feline was too fat to fly. And we’ve been following the struggles of Cinder, a 25-pound kitty who really hates treadmills.

Much to his chagrin, Buddy is in on the action too: I’ve cut back on his treats and portion size more as a preventive measure. He’s not fat, but he’s not as ripped as he thinks he is either.

So how do we deal with the feline obesity crisis? We asked Julia Lewis, DVM, who knows a thing or two about cats: Dr. Lewis graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the nation’s top veterinary school, and has 25 years’ experience working with shelters, universities and most recently in public health, where she provides wellness care to pets of the homeless on the west coast.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Pain In The Bud: A new study says more than half of all US pet cats are overweight or obese. Why are so many cats so chonky?

Dr. Lewis: We Americans like everything big: cars, houses, and unfortunately pets. Too many people equate food with love for themselves as well as their kids and pets. Yet another reason for people to have a family veterinarian that they trust is to have someone objectively tell them if their pets are in the healthy size range.

Fat Cats: M&Ms With Obstacles!
Meme imitates life.

PITB: How do cat owners react when you broach the subject?

Dr. Lewis: I’m glad I’m not in private practice. I feel uncomfortable telling people their pets are overweight because I happen to pack too many extra pounds myself. I’m nervous that when I tell pet owners their pets should lose weight, the owners will think to themselves that I should practice what I preach. (Although I try really hard to keep my own pets in decent weight so that I can practice what I preach from a professional perspective). However, when I have told people their pets can stand to lose some weight, I try to do it with humor so that the owners realize that I’m not making a judgement about them. Descriptions I’ve used to broach the subject include the pets appear Rubenesque. (One used by a particularly flamboyant resident that I had when I was a student.) I’ve also used roly-poly and fluffy. When the weight is in the severely large range, I have used round as a descriptor. Mostly, owners who realize their pets may have a problem really only want advice and that’s what I try to do for them, like I did for you when you wanted to put Buddy on calorie restriction. I also try to understand that it’s hard to lose weight, for oneself as well as their loved ones, whether two-legged or four.

PITB: What about cat owners? What’s the best way for those of us who aren’t veterinarians to determine if our cats are heavier than their ideal weight?

Dr. Lewis: Body condition is very subjective. Pets come in all sizes. This is especially true for dogs since there are such diverse breeds. Think about the extreme size and weight differences between a Chihuahua or Yorkie compared to a Great Dane or a Mastiff. Cats do have breeds, but for the most part there the size difference isn’t as extreme. Yet cats come in petite, average, and large frames. It’s not unusual for certain breeds like oriental short hairs to average only about 6 to 8 pounds and breeds like the Main Coon to average in the teens up to 25 pounds.

Cat weight chart
While healthy weights vary according to breed and size, the eye test is a good way to gauge your cat’s fitness.

That’s why it’s important to have an objective determination of body condition. Use of the body condition scoring charts puts everyone on the same page when describing a pet’s body condition.

PITB: What about fur? Does the eye test work for long-haired and extra fluffy cats?

Dr. Lewis: Beyond having a chart, owners need to be trained on how to assess their pet’s body to compare to the chart beyond just a visual measurement. Fur can interfere with accurate visual assessments of how much fat a pet may be carrying. Pet owners should have their veterinarian show them how to feel (palpate) their pets to determine how much padding beyond the fur their pets have.

PITB: Okay, so let’s say we’ve committed, we’ve talked to the veterinarian and we have a plan. How should we handle the sometimes incessant meowing and crying from a hungry cat? After all, we wouldn’t be their servants if they weren’t so persuasive.

Dr. Lewis: Dealing with pets that show their displeasure in not eating whenever and whatever they want is difficult. I have my own pets so I can really empathize. My dogs are pretty good about only eating when they’re fed but my cat is another story. But as hard as it is, ignoring them does work. I don’t react to my cat when he starts screaming. I’ve certainly not given in to him by giving him food. So, he doesn’t usually bother to yowl at me when he thinks he should be fed. My husband does give in and when my cat sees my husband, he gets incredibly vocal and demanding. So we’ve each trained the cat to give us very different behaviors. In an effort to get my cat to stop being so demanding, I’ve trained him to dance for his food. He now knows that even when we get up to feed him, he still can’t just dive right into the food, he has to do some spins. I tend to make him spin more than my husband, and that’s another reason he isn’t quite as insistent about making me feed him. One thing my cat is really good about is that he doesn’t get physical with us when he wants food. He’s just loud. If a cat does tend to get physical, owner may have to engage them in a vigorous play session before feeding to dissipate some of that pent-up frustration and energy.

081718-wabc-bruno-fat-cat-img1
Bruno, a Russian Blue from Chicago, came into the shelter at a hefty 25 pounds. The quirky cat, who sometimes walks on his hind legs only, was adopted by a couple who put him on a diet. (Source: ABC7NY)

We’d like to thank Julia for taking the time to answer our questions and provide expert advice on a tough subject. Buddy, however, would not like to thank Julia for being complicit in the Great Treat Famine of 2019. He considers it a crime to come between a cat and his snacks.

Has your cat struggled to keep the pounds off? Tell us about it in the comments!

Cat Caught Smuggling Drugs Into Russian Penal Colony

Apparently some criminals in Russia avoid jail sentences and are sent instead to penal colonies, which are closed compounds resembling Laconian communes instead of prison blocks.

And apparently using cats to smuggle drugs into penal colonies is a favorite pastime among the Russkies — every few months a new story hits the headlines, detailing doomed drug delivery operations using kitties as couriers.

The latest comes to us courtesy of Tatarstan, where an inmate’s non-incarcerated confederates withheld food from a cat for a few days, then slipped hash in a hidden sleeve in kitty’s collar before setting him loose near the penal colony.

The hungry cat headed toward the compound where an inmate was presumably waiting with pungent chow to lure his unsuspecting mule. But guards realized there was something odd about the cat, and after a short chase around the grounds they were able to corner the purrpetrator, according to the BBC.

Here’s the sneaky tortoiseshell immediately after penal colony guards intercepted him in late October. He doesn’t look happy that he’s been caught and he’s missed some meals:

Russian cat gets caught carrying drugs
Can we get some Friskies for this guy already?

Meanwhile in the city of Novomoskovsk a case against a local inmate is on the brink of collapse after the cat who allegedly delivered drugs to him managed to escape from custody.

The slippery kitty was allegedly an accomplished mule when authorities nabbed him and found heroin in his collar. Three witnesses told prosecutors the tabby was a reliable enough courier that his owner, Eduard Dolgintsev, took regular drug orders for other inmates, per Russian media reports.

Wanted: Russian drug mule
WANTED: Dmitry the Deliverator, on charges of delivering smack to Russian inmates and talking smack to Russian prosecutors 

The defense isn’t buying it.

Dolgintsev’s attorney told Russian newspapers he wanted to run experiments to see if the cat really would make reliable runs to and from the penal colony, hoping to demonstrate to the court that the idea was more fanciful than feasible.

The cat, who was considered evidence in the case, was kept in a “secure location” in a petting zoo facility, but when Dolgintsev’s attorney went there to check on the feline he was told it had slipped custody earlier, when staff let it out of the enclosure to get exercise and two dogs began creating commotion.

With the kitty’s dramatic escape, the case against the inmate looks shaky. A Russian legal expert told Kommersant.ru that the case would be dismissed unless “proof was previously obtained that the cat really did serve as an instrument in the crime.” Proof like lab test results showing traces of heroin on the his fur, for instance.

In the meantime, a very interested Buddy is wondering if the same method could be used to smuggle catnip and silvervine into The Big House, aka Animal Control…

Drug smuggling cat
This photo shows the Houdini of Novomoskovsk before he hightailed it out of his holding pen.

Man’s Elaborate Plan To Smuggle Fat Cat On Flight Backfires

Mikhail Galin loves his cat Viktor, that’s for sure.

The 34-year-old Russian and his feline flew from Riga, the capital of Latvia, to Moscow without any incident on Nov. 6, but when Galin checked in for an 8.5-hour flight to his destination in Vladivostok, he was told Viktor was too fat to fly in the cabin.

Officials from Aeroflot — Russian Airlines — told Galin there was an 18-pound limit for companion animals checked into the cabin, and at 22 pounds, the chonktacular Viktor was just too much chonk to hang with his human in business class. Instead, Viktor would have to tough out the long flight in cargo.

But Viktor was already stressed from traveling, and Galin wouldn’t take the flight without the cat by his side.

“I was very worried that during the duration of an eight-hour flight, something would happen to him in the cargo and he wouldn’t survive the trip,” Galin told the Washington Post.

When he couldn’t persuade Aeroflot to let him board with Viktor, Galin turned to social media for help and found a couple sympathetic to his cause. Their cat, Phoebe, looked like a miniature Viktor.

Galin booked a business class ticket, met up with the couple at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, and presented Phoebe as the cat he was taking with him on the flight. After airline employees weighed Phoebe and waved Galin forward, he and his new friends switched Viktor back in for his smaller body double and parted ways.

The plan worked beautifully and Galin would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t celebrated the successful swap on social media. He couldn’t resist the temptation and posted photos of Viktor on the flight: One shows the chubby cat peeking out of his carrier next to a glass of champagne, while another shot has Viktor in Galin’s lap, man helping cat enjoy a bird’s eye view.

Mikhail Galin and Viktor
Viktor takes a liking to business class.

The post went viral, an unamused Aeroflot got wind of it, and after an investigation the company docked Galin almost 400,000 frequent flier miles, his entire stash. It also booted him from its bonus miles program entirely.

“The law is harsh, but it is the law,” Galin told NBC News, repeating a stoic Russian maxim about punishment. “I violated the rules, and the carrier has every right to take action.”

Thankfully the result wasn’t all bad and Galin was rewarded for his loyalty to his cat. He told the Post several cat food companies had offered a year’s worth of food free for the flabby feline, and other transportation companies offered free use of their services.

While one politician called for Aeroflot to relax its rules on pet weight, the government wisely stayed out of kitty affairs.

“I don’t believe the Kremlin can or should comment on a situation involving a cat,” a spokesman for Vladimir Putin deadpanned.

As for Viktor, he’s made it clear he expects the same level of comfort next time he flies.

“He liked business class a lot better than economy class,” Galin said, “because he considered himself superior.”

eae3d395-fcf6-487a-abaf-0cf3a2ed43c7.png
Viktor 11,214 snacks ago.

 

 

 

Cat 1, Parents 0: Heroic Cat Rescues Toddler

A cat in Colombia has been hailed a hero for saving a 1-year-old boy from a potentially nasty fall down a flight of stairs.

The incident happened on Halloween in Bogota. Samuel, the toddler, had escaped his play pen and had nearly made it to the stairs on all fours when Gatubela, a Siamese mix, leaped into action.

The cat dragged little Samuel back from the brink, then put herself between the toddler and the stairs, pushing him to safety:

 

“The cat has been part of our family practically since birth, we had her here when she was a month, a month and a few days old, and she has become familiar with my children,” Samuel’s father, Jesid Leon, told a reporter. “She is two months older than my son.”

As for the rest of it, I have no idea what’s going on here. Why does the floor look like a demilitarized zone? Where are the parents? And does Gatubela — whose name means Catwoman — get paid for babysitting? At the very least she deserves some treats…

Gatubela, Hero Cat
Jesid Leon, father of Samuel, cradles the heroic Gatubela.

Amazing Cats: The Puma

What would domestic cats be like if they were the same size as big cats?

It’s a question that seems to pop up often on cat-centric and Q&A sites and the answer is complex, but it turns out nature has given us a pretty good idea with the puma.

Also known as the cougar, mountain lion and the more generic panther (which can be a name for jaguars and leopards as well), the puma is big, but genetically it’s related to small cats and it shares some physical features with our familiar domestic kitties.

It’s capable of the intimidating wild cat scream often heard from the largest felines, but the puma can’t roar like big cats. Instead, it purrs like its smaller relatives, and it can even meow with the best of them!

Visually, the puma is a striking animal — it’s muscular with a shiny tan coat and facial features reminiscent of both panthera and felis. While its ears more closely resemble those of small cats (felis), the puma’s eyes have circular irises like its larger cousins.

The Majestic Puma
Pumas, also known as mountain lions and cougars, are the widest-ranging cats in the world.

It’s also remarkably adaptive. The puma boasts the largest range of any cat, and is found all throughout South and North America. Here in good ol’ ‘Merica, the cat ranges from the coastal mountains of California to the forests of New England, and a subspecies — the famous Florida Panther — occupies swampland and dense jungle habitats.

After the jaguar, it’s the second-largest cat in the Western Hemisphere.

The puma is a wild animal, meaning its place is out in the world fending for itself, protecting its territory, hunting, mating, grooming and sleeping a lot, like all cats do. Pumas are emphatically not pets.

Yet pumas have a disposition closer to house cats than big cats, meaning they’re not hostile to humans by default, and much like feral cats, they’ll go out of their way to avoid humans.

Again — and it cannot be emphasized enough — pumas are wild animals who belong in the wild, but there have been rare cases where the big-little cats have lived with humans when circumstances make it impossible to return them to their natural habitat.

In some cases it’s because the puma is maimed and can no longer hunt for itself, while others remain under human care because they were born into zoos or circuses and literally do not know how to live like wild cats. Those animals are better off in sanctuaries than left to fend for themselves, which they’re unable to do, but should only be cared for by professionals.

Puma leaping
While they aren’t hostile to humans by default, pumas can tip the scales at 220 pounds and are capable of rendering serious damage.

While pumas don’t have any interest in hunting or harming humans, that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Males can tip the scales at up to 220 pounds, while females can weigh as much as 140.

That’s a LOT of cat: Most of us know the kind of damage 10-pound domestic felines are capable of rendering, especially with sharp claws and teeth that can shred delicate human skin. A 220-pound puma, while not as lethal as a tiger pushing 600-plus pounds, can fatally injure a human being.

Thankfully, these animals are famously elusive and confrontations with humans are exceedingly rare.

buddy_september2019_alt
That’s 10 pounds of pure muscle to you, mister! Everyone knows Buddy is ripped!

 

 

A Black Cat Didn’t ‘Hex’ The Giants: They Just Stink

It’s been two days since a black cat briefly halted play by dashing onto the field during a nationally-televised football game between the Cowboys and the Giants, and now people are blaming the cat for the Giants’ loss.

Sportswriters are leading the charge, writing about hexes and omens and jinxes, and dusting off the cat puns as fans share memes about the kitty’s dark powers of suckage. It’s a “cat-tastrophe!” Har har!

We’re here to state the obvious: The New York Giants suck regardless of the black cat. They sucked before the cat appeared, they sucked during the game, and they’ll continue to suck for the seven remaining games of the season.

You could say they’ve elevated it to an art, registering losing records in six of the last seven seasons.

Giants Black Cat
Horrified by another losing season, the unnamed black cat tried to flee MetLife Stadium.

On Monday night the Giants took a drubbing, losing to the mediocre Dallas Cowboys 38-17 at home and lowering their season record to 2-7. The cat’s break for freedom was the most exciting play of the game.

In other words, the cat wasn’t the cause of the losing, he was a symptom — horrified by his team’s play, he took flight and was desperately trying to find a way out of the stadium. We’re sure of it!

In the meantime, stadium staff still haven’t found the freaked-out feline, and while an anonymous team employee says there are some 300 cats living in and around the stadium, a team spokesperson says that number is closer to 30, according to the New York Post.

Some of the cats live in the bowels of MetLife Stadium while others live on the grounds of the adjoining Meadowlands race track. They’re descended from cats brought in “decades ago” to tackle a rat problem at the track and in the tunnels connecting the facilities, according to the Bergen Record.

The stadium’s owners pay to keep the cats fed and spayed/neutered, per newspaper reports, while staff at the complex care for the animals. Good on them.

Now the Giants look ahead to Sunday’s match-up with the Jets in an event affectionately referred to as the Toilet Bowl. The two New York teams are a combined 3-14 this year, but fear not — as they go head-to-head, one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win!