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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
Barsik the cat made headlines about five months ago when he was surrendered to a Manhattan animal shelter at a whopping 41 pounds.
The five-year-old was kept in the shelter’s office because he couldn’t comfortably fit into a standard cat cage, and a regular carrier couldn’t contain him either so he was carted in a stroller, according to the New York Post.
To add insult to injury, when staffers at the shelter wheeled Barsik inside, an amused visitor dug out her cell phone, laughed as she snapped a few photos and asked: “Did he eat another cat?”
Barsik has come a long way since that depressing day.
The big guy has been in the foster care of Angelique Iuzzolino of New York’s Anjellicle Cats, and he’s been steadily dropping weight.
Barsik weighs 34.9 33.3 pounds, according to Iuzzolino, who has been posting updates on Barsik’s Instagram. He’s still extra chonk, but he’s no longer in danger of matching the 46-pound Guinness record for a cat. Most importantly, he’s making progress.
He certainly looks a lot happier than he did when he was abandoned by his former people:
Barsik will be up for adoption, but if you’re interested in the big guy you’ll have to wait. He’s got a few more pounds to lose before he goes to his forever home.
May I say, sir, you are looking very ripped these days. You are totally not fat and your human is a criminal for putting you on a diet!
Food happens to be the subject of my distress as well. My human sleeps through things that would wake the dead, and she won’t get out of bed no matter how hungry I am! Sometimes I can see the bottom of my bowl and I’m literally starving, yet she won’t stir. What can I do?
Famished in Finland
Ooh! I’ve heard of Finland, the snowy realm where Santa Claws and his marsupials make toys for kitties who are good. I would like to visit some day.
Okay, you have yourself a situation. Luckily, Buddy has the answers.
You see, my Big Buddy is incredibly stubborn when I wake him up. Sometimes he throws pillows at me, and usually he yells that he’s going to take me to a place called Szechuan Garden II and sell me to them for $15 if I don’t shut up.
In order from pretty annoying to scorched Earth, here are my patented methods to wake sleepy humans:
– The Endless Yowl: Best delivered as close to your servant’s ear as possible. Requires quick reflexes for when your human tries to swat you away, and lots of stamina. You may be forced to yowl for upwards of 40 minutes.
– The Gentlemanly Slap: Okay, pretend you are French. Then pretend you are challenging your human to a duel. Then pretend you have gloves on, and you take one glove off and slap your human in the face with it. The slapping your human in the face part is the most crucial. – The Face Pillow of Doom: Lay down on her face, making sure your fur covers your human’s nose and mouth. When she starts shaking, you’re close to winning. – The Bellyflop of Utter Destruction: Find the highest perch in the room and climb to it. Face your human, aim for her tummy and jump, yelling “Geronimo!” You should hear a satisfying slap as you land, followed by a gasp from your human, who should pop right up like a piece of bread in a toaster! Then meow, “Feed me, bitch!” Mission accomplished!
Any of these methods should serve you nicely.
DISCLAIMER FROM BIG BUDDY:Please don’t get upset at the Chinese food joke! I would NEVER sell Buddy to a Chinese restaurant for $15. He’s worth at least $20!
“What a cute kitty,” I thought, then squinted. “Wait… Is that a dead mouse clamped between her teeth?”
After zooming in and verifying that, yes, that is a poor rodent meeting its unfortunate end, I came to a profound realization: Cats are cute even when they’re committing murder.
Like this little guy below: Totally cute. Totally thinking about murder.
Think about that for a second. We love cats because they’re great companions. They’re loving despite all the myths that claim they’re not, they’re cute, and they’re endlessly amusing.
We welcome them into our homes, adjust our schedules to their needs, and fret about how they might not like a new brand of litter or a newly-arranged living room.
We laugh when they shred paper and enthusiastically tear into plush toys.
We trim their razor-sharp claws, kiss their little heads and give them names like Buddy, Gizmo and Puddin’ Head.
And yet cats aren’t just murderers, they’re serial killers. They’re the bane of birds, rodents and lizards on six of the seven continents. They’re so ruthlessly efficient at killing, in some countries it’s illegal just to let them outside.
Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with my cat bringing me “presents” of dead rodents or lizards. We live in an apartment, Buddy doesn’t want anything to do with the outside unless I’m with him, and if our games are any indication, he’s a hilariously inept hunter who probably couldn’t catch a rodent even if I slow-tossed one to him like a pitcher serving up meatballs in a home run derby.
Yet I’ve heard many stories from friends and acquaintances whose cats are little terrors. Murderous cats are even the subject of this week’s pet advice column on Slate, where a reader complains that her cat proudly presents her with dead mice, frogs and rabbits.
So what sort of powerful magic is at work here? Why do we disregard the murderous side of our little friends? Or is this the work of toxoplasma gondii, that infamous cat-carried parasite that is rumored to take over human brains?
In truth, it’s just who cats are. They’ve been companion animals for so long, it’s easy to forget the reason cats and humans came together in the first place was to kill rodents who were eating their way through stored grain in the very first human agricultural settlements.
So instead of fretting about their murderous ways, maybe we should just be thankful they’re not large enough to eat us too. Isn’t that right, Mr. Fluffy?
Quarterly Performance Review, Summer 2019 for Big Buddy, human servant in the king’s employ
Meal selection remains satisfactory. You are to be commended for serving a rotation of delicious yums, including turkey, chicken, salmon, beef, whitefish and occasionally more exotic dishes like duck.
Service itself could be improved: On one occasion dinner was served 82 seconds late, and on another occasion the meal was tardy by an unacceptable 113 seconds. That’s almost two minutes!
In addition, the King wishes to remind his servant that His Grace prefers when his servant mixes the pate up to soften it, shaping it in a neat pile in the center of the bowl.
Treat quality and variety are satisfactory. The frequency with which treats are dispensed, however, is not. We’ve mentioned this on your last 12 quarterly reports.
Big Buddy performs an essential function, serving as His Grace’s mattress. There was a moment of concern earlier this summer when Big Buddy had lost several pounds upon returning from Japan, threatening the integrity of His Grace’s cushion, but after written reprimands and several bites, the weight was restored. See that it remains.
Litter box maintenance:
Satisfactory. His Grace prefers Da Bird and the fishy wand toy. Also, he likes it when Big Buddy sprinkles treats in his cat tunnel. Those are always a delightful surprise.
There was one week when His Grace was forced to endure the presence of miniature humans, otherwise known as Big Buddy’s nieces. The miniature humans were well-behaved for the most part, although His Grace would remind Big Buddy to remind the miniature humans not to appropriate His Grace’s toys.
Overall evaluation: 6.5/10
His Grace feels that Big Buddy could improve his quarterly score by addressing areas of concern, especially the aforementioned treat frequency issue.
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.