“When you’re ready to put Arnold on a diet,” the vet says, “call me. It can be a process, but it can work.”
Arnold is the second of our cats to need some help in terms of dietary needs. The first, Ferdinand, ended up with diabetes, something we couldn’t control. I still remember the toil and trouble of giving him insulin shots that only worked for a little while. In the end, we had to let him go well before any of us wanted to.
So as I stand listening to the vet tell me about Arnold’s trouble, I think to myself: I’m not ready. Not for diabetes. Not for insulin shots. Not for the heartache. But I’m not ready for a diet either. With three cats in the mix, there’s no way it’s going to work.
Months later, when Arnold’s girth teeters precariously close to dangerous levels and his shadow mimics Jabba the Hutt, I cave. “We have to do something, kids. Are we ready? I can’t do this alone.”
The children nod their heads, and we speak to the vet. So many rules to abide by, and with three cats, it will be too difficult to feed them individually. But I think we can figure out how much they normally eat in a day all together. And from there, we’re supposed to only offer 75 percent of that amount. So we begin . . .
I don’t need to go into the nitty-gritty details of our plan (feed twice a day across multiple bowls), but here we are, months later, and I’m certain of three things:
- Arnold hasn’t lost weight.
- A crying cat is annoying.
- My life might be at stake.
I haven’t weighed Arnold, so maybe I’m not actually certain that he hasn’t lost an ounce (and of course, he needs to lose much more than that). But I am certain the vocalization he’s so fond of is something I can do without. Each day, I say to him, “You can’t possibly be hungry, Arnold,” as he whines for me to fill the food bowl before it’s time. Furthermore, on more than one occasion, the cats have almost tripped me up (which would have caused a headlong dive down the basement stairs for me) as we make our way to the basement for feeding time. Holding onto the railing of the basement stairs, I utter a string of expletives as my knees buckle, and I catch myself. The answering reply? “MEEEE-OWWWW!” Which I interpret as “Hurry the eff up, lady.”
Despite this cat-astrophe of a diet, we’ll continue the charade. Why? Because Arnold, as I said, isn’t the only cat we have to worry about. And one of his housemates, Heathcliff, was underweight. By splitting up the meals and bringing a bit of food to the kitchen only for Heathcliff, we’ve managed to put on a half pound to his slim frame.
You win some, you lose some, folks.