Mardi Gras was just over a week ago, which as you all know, translates to Fat Tuesday. That got me thinking about the extra pound or two on my cattle dog, Kali, and possibly even myself, as the effects of winter take their toll. Weight control for pets is a critical, and far too often overlooked, element of pet care. We deal with it plenty here at the sanctuary, both with pets that come in overweight, and with the seasonal shifts in activity for our long term guests. So grab a nice snack of carrot sticks while we look at weight control at the sanctuary.
Kitty Trim Down
With the cats at the sanctuary, weight control is something we take very seriously. The cats are all weighed on a regular basis, so that we can know quickly if any one of them is gaining or loosing weight. Precipitous gains or losses in weight can be early signs of health problems in the cats, or just a sign that their calorie intake and activity output aren’t quite matching up. Also, when trying to get an underweight cat to put on a pound or two (anyone remember Hedwig when he first arrived?), or getting an overweight cat to trim down, it’s important to not go too fast, which could lead to health problems. Our current weight loss project with the cats is Max. He came to us looking a little more like a bowling ball than a cat. Having that much extra weight can increase many health risks for a cat, so we quickly got to work gradually slimming him down through a combination of controlling his food intake and increasing his activity. He’s done well in his time here, and, while I don’t think anyone would call him a thin cat right now, he is certainly much healthier and moves around better than he did a year ago.
Even though the cartoon-ish “fat cat” is always the stereotype, we’ve had plenty of dogs at the sanctuary who have tipped the scales. After all, who can resist handing out a few extra treats when you get those sad puppy dog eyes staring you down. But just like with the cats, those extra few pounds can cause some real harm to a dog over the long haul. Hips, knees, and spines can all take a beating in a heavy dog’s body. To make sure we’re on top of any changes, the dogs are also weighed at least twice a month. This becomes crucial with the dogs, given the sometimes wide seasonal fluctuations in a dog’s activity level. We’ve become well acquainted over the years with Aggie’s summer feeding versus winter feeding needs. And you can’t talk about the winter slow down without talking about Tucker. This boy has no interest venturing out in the cold, which makes him one that we have to pay special attention to his weight. It may surprise those of who just met Tucker in the last few months, but when he first arrived here, he definitely had some spare cushioning that we needed to work off of him. But with the vigilance of the staff, and the self control of the volunteers, our big man is now fit and trim, even while spending most of the winter on his beloved couch.
Just as with us humans, maintaining a healthy weight in the dogs and cats can be a challenge, especially when the cold weather keeps everyone in and under the covers. But it’s definitely worth it when we get to see fit and happy critters racing around and enjoying everything life here has to offer.
We had a couple of very special adoptions in February, to make up for there not being very many of them. Stash, who magically showed up at the Program Center in Manchester one morning, and who needed some serious care from a tendon injury in his leg, found a wonderful home this month. Also, everyone’s favorite goofball bulldog, Luna, finally found her forever home. This girl came to us over a year ago, and was paralyzed with fear of any humans. But with lots of patience and some chicken (and some Doritos and ice cream), she came out of her shell and started making some great friends here. She has now gone home with a lovely family, and even gets to spend her days with another bully breed friend, King. Arriving to the cat side of things were Maya and Pegaleo, two more tuxedo cats looking to add some flair to things around here.