Losing Weight is Hard
Losing weight is hard. Really hard. If it were easy we wouldn’t have such an epidemic of obesity in this country and we would all be running around in bikini bodies with 6-pack abs!
Well the good news is that it doesn’t have to be so hard to help your pet lose weight. Like a lot of life’s best lessons, I learned this the hard way last year. And yes, it took me most of the year to learn it. This is because I mistakenly thought that since it is so hard for ME to lose weight that it would be that hard to help my cat to do the same. So that is why I am going to start this year and this blog off by sharing with you the best lesson I learned in 2014!
It started last winter when I began to notice that my cat Fred was very, very serious about his food dish and more importantly the kibble that went in it. I have two cats Pumpkin, an elderly, orange tabby, lady kitty and Fred, a middle-aged, all boy, tuxedo kitty. They had always more or less self-regulated their intake and I just filled the bowl every morning and went on about my day. Fred had always been ummmm…errrr….big boned and a little husky but not really fat. Well of course the first thing I did was bring my boy Fred into the clinic to have him checked out by a veterinarian. Once it was determined that there was no underlying medical reason for him to be such a big boy (my actual nick name for him), I had to take a look at our home environment.
Everyone told me: STOP free feeding and START measuring his food and despite all the good advice I muddled my way through March and April by changing the food to a low calorie food and listening to the cats complain that they missed their yummy kibble. Let me be clear here, despite the fact that I work in a vet clinic and have all kinds of amazingly smart people telling me the best way to help my pet, I chose to continue on with my errant ways convinced that the cats could never be time fed and that I knew what a half cup of food looked like.
In May we adopted Sheila, a senior, petite bearded collie mix. She joined our family and is a great pal for my senior otterhound mix Otto. Free feeding didn’t stop with the cats, our dogs had always been free fed as well. Well Sheila changed all that. She is one of those dogs that eats all the food in front of her, immediately as soon as it is available. Otto was a grazer….usually choosing to eat at 2 in the morning after all chance of human scraps was done for the day. Well this was a big, big deal in our house. My hand was forced, my husband and I were crushed. I was convinced it would be a complete disaster and looked for any way to convince Sheila to see the light. Alas, we had to face the music and began time feeding.
It only took Otto a couple of days to “get it” (he is a lot smarter than me in many ways). Every morning at 6am and every evening at 6pm the bowls come out, they get food put in them and they are promptly emptied. Amazing. I couldn’t believe it. In a matter of a few weeks I began to notice something else. Otto began to lose weight. He had always been a little pudgy but as I began to see how much better he was doing on his walks I felt a real pang of guilt. This led me back to our cat situation and that is when I finally had the light bulb go off. The problem wasn’t the cats or the dogs, the problem was me.
So I sucked it up, brought home some measuring cups and crossed over to the other side. Now every morning at 6am and every evening at 6pm all four bowls come out, get exactly the right amount of food put into them, they get emptied and put away. All four pets are happy, all four pets are at or are approaching their healthy weight and other than the pang of guilt I have that it took me so long, I am happy too!
So now you can benefit from my year’s long journey into what now seems like a real no brainer to me. Time feed your pets, measure their food (honestly!) and remember to calculate in any treats they get.
Want to see all the good advice I ignored? Check out the weight management page on our website!