Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Entry 131: My Cat Might Have A Bit Of A Weight Problem

     Have I told you about my cat, Ella?  Also known as: Worms, Squirms, Squirmiss, Squirmelia Earhart, Worminator, Wormissimo, Ells Bells, or Cat?  I got her about 5 years ago, mostly to prove that I could keep living things alive after the great "sure I can take care of your plants while you're gone" fiasco of 2005. Given that she's currently alive, I'd say that I've redeemed myself.  And that plants are both lazy and self-indulgent.

     Due to some ongoing weight-management issues, Ella is a bit shy about having her picture taken and made me promise to leave her picture out of this post.  I reluctantly agreed, but thought that you readers deserved more and so I've put pictures of other cats as negative examples so you can get a clear picture of what Ella looks like:

She's African-American:

She's not this skinny:

And she's not this fat. 

     Ella was a very energetic and playful kitten.  When I cat-sat for my ex's very cool cat, the Adrian-Brody-esque "Toby", they would play together all day, every day.  Ella was in shape and lithe (real word, fyi) and one day even submitted to me this list of her favorite hobbies so I could use that information when buying her cat toys.

     However, something changed over the last couple of years. Ella has gotten a bit... rotund.  I didn't notice her fattening up because I see her everyday, but when I went to Iraq and my mom watched her I had an email that said:

When did Ella get so fat!? Yesterday she jumped down to the floor from the counter and the vibrations knocked a glass off the table.  Maybe it's time for a diet."

     Honestly I thought my mom was exaggerating.  Turns out the vet thought differently and recommended that I put her on a diet.  Well, a better diet, as I thought I had been putting her on a diet already.  Turns out my diet was, uh, quite generous.

     I didn't like the idea of facing Ella when she was hungry because she's very demanding and stubborn.  And who can resist cute cat faces when they ask if they can "haz cheeseburger?" Right?  I'm not made of stone you know.  But I've been doing my best to stick to her new diet because, in the end, a healthier cat is a happier cat.  What finally pushed me into taking action was when I found her old list of hobbies, now updated, under her bed. Quite sad:

     Ella is doing pretty good on her diet, though she's still a bit plump.  I did see her run (well, jog really) recently so I think things are improving.  There's a problem though: she's always hungry.  And, since she's always hungry, she assumes that every time I go somewhere in my house I'm headed for her food dish to refill her bowl.  I get up or walk around my house many times in a day, yet I only head into her room twice a day. 

     I can't figure out why she always thinks I'm headed for her food dish, because she's not an optimist.  She has to know that the odds of any particular trip of mine leading to her getting food are relatively low.  My theory is that she doesn't have the mental processing to determine, in 3-D space, where her food dish is in relation to the rest of the house.  Here's the actual layout of the house:

All dimensions approximate

     As you can see, it doesn't take a traffic flow-chart to determine that Ella's room is not the hub of this house.  Nevertheless, she assumes that any trip from one area to the area is inevitably part of a food-refilling mission.  So when I get up to go from, say the living room to the kitchen?  She sprints (well, waddle-sprints) into her room and waits for food.  If I go from the kitchen to my room?  She sprints to her dish.  It's the same for every time I get up from one room to do something in any other room.  I imagine she thinks of the house layout more along these lines:

    In a flash of brilliance, it struck me: this might be the key to her getting exercise!  All I have to do is feign a trip towards her room and she'll go sprinting in that direction.  When she doesn't get food she'll trot back to the living room and wait for my next trip.  Like I said, she's stubborn, so when I tried this last week I tricked her into a room-dash 18 times in a row before I got bored with it.  I'm shooting for about a dozen trips per day- so far she hasn't caught on to anything yet.  I got her pretty good this morning on my way to make breakfast:

     On the one hand, I'm using blatant trickery to tease my cat about her favorite pasttime: food.  On the other hand, she's finally getting the exercise that her vet says is good for her.  [I dated a girl like that?] I think this is a situation where everybody wins, right? 

Caleb "Yeah, I torture my cat." Shreves



  1. She can't haz cheezeburger anymore, the poor dear.

  2. i'm a little worried about ella's layout, how does one exit the maison d'ella? and your layout, don't get me started on the kitchen-sized doorway...

  3. My mom got told one of her dogs is fat recently and that they needed to go on a diet. The plan was for both dogs to be fed twice a day and they only get 15 minutes to eat so that they can't graze and the fat one can't steal the little ones food.

    Fat Boy (as we affectionately call him) is so damn lazy he can't be bothered to stand eating for 15 minutes and therefore goes hungry, gets all sad and cries a bit when you're eating because you won't share.

    Have you tried this technique? You could try putting the food in an awkward spot so that more exercise is required to reach it.


  4. Tape a sunflower seed to the wall, where the sun will hit it.. just-out-of-reach... she will jump endlessly to try and get the "fly"

  5. My parents have a rescue cat that's ballooned up to 22 lbs. 22!

    I blame it on my dad cause he mistakenly got her kitten food and fed it to her for a few months (he got the huge bag) without me or my mom noticing.

    She is now on a (unsuccessful) diet.

    I'm also wondering how you enter your home.

  6. OBVIOUSLY I knocked down my kitchen wall to cut down on door-opening time. Check the diagram.

    As for the suggestions, they don't work. I used to try and make her work for her food, but she just stares vapidly and meows.

    And she doesn't jump up after anything- fly or not. When she was a kitten I nailed fake mice into the door frame, just above where she could jump. She would try all day, eventually get it, and the next day I'd raise it up a quarter inch.

    Those were the days.

  7. How about non-wheat or rice-based cat food? I too had a cat that used to be able to jump from the floor to the top of the fridge in one go who now can't be bothered to bat at anything if it's more than a paw-length away. But seriously, the food works. My vet told me about it. Apparently cats can't digest carbs as they are supposed to eat only meat, aka mice ;) Works for me!

  8. my cat has a sagging stomach and a hitler mustache. i always fill her bowl she's probably gonna get fat soon too.

  9. Ella has excellent penmanship.

    And she has her own room?! You sure do know how to treat a lady.

  10. she needs Paleo!!! This cracked me up. Thinking of annoyed cats makes me laugh.

  11. Worms has a message she wants to type for those of you laughing at her... hold on....


    Not sure what that means, but she meowed while doing it so maybe it's in code.

    And her eyes said "if you try and give me rice, we have a problem."

    She's scary when she looks like that.

  12. I so needed this laugh! The sketchwork? Fabulous and Ella's handwriting is great. Is she a south paw? LOL

    Sounds like my kitty but I DO know what caused her to go from cute, cuddly and playful kitty to moody, lazy and fat ball of fur. We had her gears stripped! Has she been fixed??

  13. You've given her too much power. She has her own room. she can influence you with scary looks and allow her on your computer. No wonder she's fat, scary eyes get her everything she wants. Tut tut.

  14. If you could rig a fake Caleb, a Calebcrow of sorts, along a cable (holy shit anagram) and sporadically send it zooming toward her food bowl, I bet she'd slim down in no time. Easy peasy.

    My dog Juanita tends toward plumpness, and I believe in keeping dogs skinny, so I feed her almost nothing. Literally. Like, one piece of kibble and some dryer lint maybe. Then I take her on walks that she doesn't want to go on, and I end up dragging her behind me on her extendo leash like a fallen kite most of the time. Tough love.

  15. SMU- I tried the same thing with my ex and it worked wonders. She was a trooper.

    MDH- yes, fixed. Are you kidding? I have enough trouble with females in heat- I'm not going to add to my problems by having one live with me

    Laura- yes. I give most women too much power, and they all seem to have the 'look' power over me. Weird.

  16. This was so funny! Met you on 20sb and glad I did. Looking forward to future posts!

  17. just found your blog, and I kept reading and reading!! I now will be following...the next step after that is stalking...so watch out!


  18. This is brilliant; my cat is a fattie too. He can jump onto the piano with the key protector thing down and you can hear his steps through the wood barrier. I love his fatness though, he's so cute.

  19. This is excellent. Not the fat problem, but the diagrams. I also have a cat who links movement to food. He's young and not fat yet but I do step on him a lot as he's constantly under foot. Tell Worms it could always be worse. She could have a two-year old "sibling" in the house, riding on her back screaming, "Donkey Ride!!!" as she eats her dinner.

  20. Thanks, stalkers! Ah, stalking. You know, they used to call that 'love' in the middle ages.

    There's got to be a joke about 'cats' playing the piano and jazz 'cats' playing the piano. I got nothin.

    Rachel, I would love nothing more than to have a toddler around to torture my cat into shape! Can I borrow yours? I promise to to kid-put your kid. Well, kind of promise.

  21. I was reading everyone ranting and raving about your hilarious blog so I had to come and check it out, and I'll be completely honest you exceeded my expectations! Your blog is hilarious, love the photos! I'm your newest follower now, and I'm unbelievably excited about this! I have read several of your posts this evening, but decided it would be appropriate to comment on this one since I have 3 cats...one is borderline obese or so I'm sure the vet would say! Have a great weekend!

  22. I really like this one. It reminds me of my Doberman. Pets can be so demanding, and we are such suckers! "Hey Mark, what do you think you can do for me today?"

  23. Thanks!

    I may have adopted a cat this weekend. But only because he is the same age as Ella, the same color, the same markings, and a little fat. Weird, right? And, (remember I call Ella "squirms") his name? Squeeks.

    Squeeks and Squirms. How could I say no?

    They're not getting along just yet, but it could be worse. We'll see?

  24. i have a cat named ella too but she really only answers to kitty kitty meow meows or fat cat meow meows. She has a weight problem as well. She sleeps all day but as soon as she hears the can opener she moves like a ninja. This doesnt help you I know but just had to share my fat cat similarity with you :)

  25. poor ella, her little updated list of things she loves is so sad.. and did you notice you arent on there? thats because you force her into exercise when all she really wants is to haz cheezburger

    good trick though, i might have to steal it


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