Tag: Buddy the Cat

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.

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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.

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!

 

One of My Favorite Kitten Memories

Whenever I look at photos of Baby Buddy, I try to remind myself there was a whole lot of crazy that came with the cute.

The surreptitious pooping underneath my bed. The relentless nightly war waged against my ankles and feet. The incessant meowing as if he’d reconciled classical and quantum physics and needed to tell me all about it right this very instant.

Actually he hasn’t quite given up that last hobby. He still tackles weighty subjects in minutes-long soliloquies delivered in meow, but he’s generally less insistent unless the topic involves food.

Buddy the Baby

One of my fondest memories of Baby Bud involves that hyper talkativeness combined with boundless kitten energy and Buddy’s unique brand of crazy.

It started with bedtime. I was settling in for sleep and Bud was making it clear he would have none of it. So I sighed, making sure my feet were fully wrapped in the armor of a blanket to render kitten claws and teeth ineffective.

One of his favorite moves as a kitten was to wait until I was falling asleep, my heart rate slowing, before going kamikaze on my feet. He’d listen for the first snore, chomp down on my toes and gleefully flee before I realized what was happening, happily trilling and chirping after another successful ambush.

This time Buddy had something else in mind. As soon as the lights were off and I was settled in bed, he took off like the Roadrunner, ricocheting off the walls and yelling out “BRRRRRRUUUPPP!!!! BRRRRRRUUUPPP!!!” as he pinballed around the room.

This went on for several minutes until, without warning, Buddy skidded to a halt on my back, meowed the kitten equivalent of “OH YEAH!” and collapsed on top of me with an epic sigh of contentment. He was asleep within seconds.

I can’t do justice in words to how funny it was, except to say I was laying there belly-laughing with my kitten on top of me, afraid I was going to wake him up.

At the time it was also validation. This kitten was my first-ever pet, and he was clearly a happy little dude. That made me happy too.

I miss Baby Buddy, but I love adult Buddy even more precisely because I have more memories like this one to fondly look back on…and because adult Buddy mercifully doesn’t treat my feet like scratching posts when I’m asleep!

Baby Buddy

Adorable Smiling Kitten Proves Cats Appreciate Being Rescued

Do cats understand and appreciate when humans rescue them?

It’s a question that comes up often, even though cat owners servants are quick to answer in the affirmative based on their own experiences with thankful felines.

Thanks to a tiny rescue kitten named Blossom and her beaming smile, any doubts can be officially put to rest. Here’s Blossom happily posing for the camera in the home of her foster mom, Lauren Boutz of New Mexico:

Blossom the Smiling Kitten
“Get my good side! Got it? Good!”

Blossom and her two sisters are receiving round-the-clock care from Boutz and her boyfriend, who have taken over mom duties for the orphaned trio.

The grateful kitty’s sunny mug has been shared a few thousand times since Boutz shared the photos to Facebook. Like all good models, Blossom has several looks.

Blossom the Smiling Kitten
“My other good side!”

 

Blossom
“You cannot resist my cuteness…play with me!”
Blossom the Smiling Kitten
A natural in front of the camera.

Now if we could only get a certain grouch around here to smile…Why so serious all the time, Bud?

Buddy Buddy Buddy!
Zoolander never smiled either!

The Torturing: A Fowl Famine, Episode I (Buddy’s Diet)

Day 1: I meowed for treats for two hours and 37 minutes this morning, to no avail. Has Buddy the Larger suffered a stroke? This could pose serious problems for my snacking requirements.

Day 2: This must be a joke. A bad, totally-not-funny joke that’s gonna end with my teeth and claws delivering the final punchline. I WANT MY TREATS NOW.

Day 3: This new kibble is tasteless. Blue Buffalo Wilderness, my ass. More like Brown Cardboard Inside. Thank God I still get turkey. Oh, turkey, I love you.
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Day 4: It has been 93 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds since my last treat, a creamy, moist morsel of manufactured goodness that activated the reward pathways in my brain like only the finest kitty crack can. You got any on you, bro?

Day 5: By employing my own talents of stealth and acrobatics, I’ve discovered not only is Big Buddy withholding snacks from me, they’ve all disappeared from the snack cabinet! What horrible sorcery is this?

Day 6: Last night I helped myself to some of Big Buddy’s pasta when he left the room to refill his beverage. It’s awful, rubbery stuff topped with sauce made from tomato, that infernal vegetable. Yet I gulped it down. What’s happening to me?!

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Happy Halloween from Buddy!

Buddy is my little helper this Halloween, as he is every year.

When the doorbell rings he runs excitedly over to the door like a dog, looking back at me like “Come on, dude! People are here! Open the door and give them candy!”

The kids love him.

“Oh, he’s so cute!” one little girl, dressed as a Disney princess, exclaimed just a few minutes ago.

“Look! A kitty cat!” another said, pointing happily.

Unfortunately Buddy will not wear his costume. Maybe that’s for the best, since he could be accused of cultural appropriation. Can cats appropriate culture?

Buddy on Halloween

It was all I could do to get that grainy, poorly-lit iPhone photo above. Sorry! The little dude doesn’t like collars, clothes, costumes or anything else on his body. Not even snacks can bribe him.

I couldn’t get the hat to stay on his head more than a few seconds, and he’s a little escape artist with the poncho. There was no way he would have sat like that long enough for me to get a shot with the Canon, unfortunately.

But he is a good little helper with the trick-or-treaters, and later tonight he’ll nap in my lap as I curse myself for eating too many leftover Twix and Snickers. He’s my buddy!