Caturday felids: birthday cat + bonus

There are three million tails in the Naked City. This is one of them.

Jennie Ripps is a Friend of the Website—fiancée of Max Brockman, who is son of the agent John Brockman, who, I suppose, is ultimately responsible for this blog.  Anyway, in honor of Jennie’s 30th birthday, which was yesterday, I’m posting about her beloved kitteh Camilla.  Jennie recounts her history (nb: Camilla is not fat, just fluffy):

Camilla Ripps was discovered at age 1 in Little Havana, Miami, at a gas station.  At the time she weighed 2 lb and it took some washing in the station sink to discover she was, in fact, entirely white.  Shortly after her rescue from the streets, Camilla traveled to Philadelphia, PA, where she spent her time carousing with or attempting to bite students at the University of Pennsylvania. After a tenure in NYC and Cambridge, MA, and now weighing in at 16 lb, Camilla received her first passport.  She traveled to the Czech Republic, where she managed to escape on a flight to Prague, circling the plane three times until caught. After a six-month stay in Montreal, Camilla weighed in at 18lb and returned to NYC. Now clocking in at 25 lb, she spends her time sleeping, eating, and intermittently suspecting that she will never be fed again.

Camilla and Jennie:

Camilla and Max: “Puzzle—ur doin it rong!”

Happy Birthday, Jennie! (I’d advise giving Camilla a pass on the cake.)

Bonus:  A case of acute ailurophilia:


14 Comments

  1. daveau
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    25 lbs is a lot of fur. Happy Birthday, Jennie!

    We have a kitteh that showed up on our doorstep 6 years ago, and she has always had a weight problem. I always figured that it was because she was starving when we found her, and can’t pass a food bowl now without emptying it. This new info has me thinking that possibly it’s because she’s a white cat. Has anyone done a study on this?

    • Posted September 4, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      I also have a former stray who is overweight but mine is not white. I also had assumed the eating habits were formed during a time of desperation in her life and carried her forward in great girth. Research on the topic would be interesting.

      • abadidea
        Posted September 4, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        My horse’s previous owners severely underfed him and now he is a non-stop grazer who will eat himself sick at every opportunity. Incidentally his base color is also white but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

        • daveau
          Posted September 5, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          He’s probably also a quadruped. More than a coincidence? I think not!

  2. Bill
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I am ‘blessed’ with 4 cats – one deliberate, three hangers on. There are two brothers one of whom eats when hungry and is a big handsome cat, the other cannot pass a bowl without examining it hopefully and with an air of suffering and would keep eating and demanding food if he didn’t have to occasionally grasp his pearls and faint whenever the friendly dog ambles pass. This cat is reaching buddha like proportions, unlike his brother who has had exactly the same upbringing and has at least the same mother (they are very different looking so no guesses on shared paternity)

  3. helen
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    25 lb sounds like severly overweight, unless I’m mistaken in how many grams an lb is.

    • daveau
      Posted September 4, 2010 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      From the pictures, that’s a large cat. But 25 lbs is an unhealty weight. I get 11.30 Kg, or 1.8 stone.

  4. Posted September 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    If Camille is an only cat, or at least if none of her feline cohabitants are elderly and in poor health, then returning her to a weight that will make her much more comfortable for many more years is simple (if not necessarily easy).

    Let her eat as much as she wants, but only for half an hour twice a day.

    Set her food out at the same time morning and evening, and take it away no more than a half hour later (set a timer, if need be).

    And be firm — that’s the hard part.

    The first time, she’ll just graze a little bit in the morning. When she feels it’s time for brunch, she’ll start demanding it neow, Neow, NEOW! And she won’t stop demanding until you finally feed her dinner time. But, when dinner finally rolls around, she won’t eat enough to keep her going through the night, so she will wake you up constantly demanding to be fed.

    It’ll be damned hard for everybody, including Camille. But, after a few days, she’ll get used to it…even if she still won’t like it. She’ll eventually wolf down as much as she can eat at meal times, and not long after that she’ll stop the constant demands for food. Eventually, she’ll just get antsy an hour or so before meal times…which means that you don’t want to set her expectations that breakfast is served as soon as you get out of bed. She gets her breakfast after you’ve finished yours (or after you’ve gotten out of the shower or whatever), or else you’ll never need an alarm clock ever again.

    Once you’ve got her eating on a set schedule, get her off of kibble as fast as you can. Kibble is worse for cats than a super-sized McDonald’s Happy Meal is for human children. Switch her to exclusively grain-free canned food. Yes, your cat food costs will skyrocket. But your veterinary costs will plummet. And, I can tell you from personal experience, it’s much cheaper and far more pleasant to feed canned food to a cat than to treat her for kidney failure…the first thing I did for the teenaged Tamar when she was thrust into my arms some years ago was get her off of kibble, but her kidneys were already in trouble. Such a sweetheart…she actually looked forward to the daily sub-cutaneous fluids because, by the time it became a daily thing, she knew full well she’d soon be getting a treat….

    Anyway…I’m starting to ramble. Baihu, my formerly-feral feline friend and my only surviving resident deity, is only a couple years old. Once the current stockpile of cans (from when I had twice as many cats to feed) starts to run low, I’ll probably switch him to a raw diet. The idea is to mimic what his ancestors for so many generations evolved to eat: entire rodents, small birds, insects, and whatever else they could sink their claws into. Notice that neither kibble nor any of its constituent ingredients is anywhere on that list. Raw ground-up chicken parts, skin, bones, and all, with either the heart and other organs included or a nutritional supplement that includes taurine, is a very close analogue to what he should be eating.

    Rambling again.

    Last advice: health insurance. When (not if) Camille develops diabetes or heart disease or her kidneys begin to shut down, it will more than pay for itself. I can’t say enough good things about Pets Best Insurance, but they’re not the only good company offering this service. Towards the end, the vet was charging my credit card almost as much as my (admittedly-low) mortgage, but insurance covered so much that the net balance was less than my electricity bill.

    The plan for Baihu is for Pets Best to make such a huge profit off of him a little at a time over the coming decades that it more than makes up for what Tamar cost them….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Jennie Ripps
      Posted September 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ben,

      My problem with Camilla’s weight is that for the past four years I’ve fed her light cat food for only 1/2 an hour (vet recommended amount) same time every evening and morning — and she still manages to accrue mass…what do you think?

      Jennie

      • Posted September 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        Jennie,

        Assuming that Camilla isn’t sneaking food from elsewhere (such as another cat’s bowl or even your own food stores), I’d suspect that the “light cat food” might not actually be something that a cat should be eating.

        I’ve observed that most people, including a lot of vets and certainly a lot of cat food manufacturers, assume that dietary guidelines for Homo sapiens also apply to Felis catus.

        While, in a broad sense, we can both survive on the same diet, an optimal diet for the one isn’t necessarily very healthy for the other. That especially applies for cats eating a human or human-like diet. We, as obligate omnivores, can tolerate a strictly carnivorous diet much better than cats, as obligate carnivores, can tolerate an omnivorous diet.

        If that “light cat food” is anything other than meat with trace amounts of essential dietary supplements (most notably taurine), then it’s probably bad news for the cat.

        Humans need to eat complex carbohydrates and vegetables and the like for a balanced diet. The only non-meat things a wild cat regularly eats is what’s in the stomachs of its prey (though they do, rarely, snack on grasses, as often as not regurgitating them later).

        So, you might pick up a can of cat food where the ingredients read like your favorite recipe for chicken stew, including rice, peas, carrots, garlic, flour, and the like. And, indeed, it might well be pretty healthy for you, and your cat might actually like the way it tastes. But your cat has no business eating it, especially on a regular basis, any more than you have any business eating hay or uncooked grains.

        In humans, excess carbohydrates — especially simple carbohydrates, most especially fructose — get metabolized into fats and cholesterol; see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM for details. I suspect that’s even more true for cats, though I have nothing but speculation to back that up.

        Dry food is especially problematic for cats. fyreflye below mentions Evo. They make excellent canned cat food, but they also make the dry stuff he mentions. Though what they put into it is all good and they don’t put anything bad in it, it does have a very serious problem for cats: what they take out of it.

        Cats get almost all of their water from their food. A healthy cat drinks very, very little. They do still drink and always need ready access to clean water, but the water might well evaporate faster than it gets drunk.

        As a result, a cat’s thirst instinct is not very strong. If the cat’s food doesn’t contain enough water, the cat will drink more water…but not enough.

        At least, not enough until her kidneys start to fail due to chronic prolonged dehydration…and, as I can tell you with my recent experience with Tamar, that’s not something you want to wish on a cat.

        So…if, contrary to my strong suspicions, Camille really is only eating healthy food twice a day and she’s still morbidly obese, the obvious conclusion is that something else is worng with her body. I know nowhere near enough of medicine, especially veterinary medicine, to presume to make a diagnosis, but there are plenty of people — and presumably other mammals — with various glandular problems that lead to morbid obesity. I’d pressure the vet into finding the cause…and, if necessary, finding a different vet who will.

        Good luck, and be sure to give Camilla more than her minimum daily recommended dose of belly rubs, no matter what else you do!

        Cheers,

        b&

  5. MadScientist
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    25lbs of domestic cat is way out in the morbidly obese range (unless your domestic cat happens to be a cheetah).

    My stray kitteh stayed nice and lean throughout his long kitty life.

  6. mike m
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I had a terribly fat cat that I also found starving in the wood as a kitten covered with fleas. A delightful friendly animal, unless you were another cat getting between him and his food. I worked for half his life to lean him up, he died at 10.

    About domestic animal food – Same problem we have, 60% of the food content in the grocery store is some derivative of corn. (feed lot beef is really corn). The new genetically altered salmon in the news the last two weeks, most likely is bred to tolerate corn. The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan.

    We are … the children of the corn

  7. fyreflye
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    My Max, a domestic shorthair tabby with
    some kind of mix that gives him white underparts, has never exceeded 12 lbs, even though I keep the food bowl accessible and filled.
    A major reason is that I feed him mainly dry food (not “kibble”) and that the food is not the kind mike m mentions that’s bulked up with cereals, mainly corn. My choice is the EVO brand by Innova, which has no cereals and which is mostly protein with vegetable products. It’s expensive (about $24 for a 6.6 lb bag) but he loves it, doesn’t seem to prefer the canned food I occasionally offer him, and it’s worth it to keep him happy and healthy. I recommend it highly.
    Disclaimer: no connection to EVO except as satisfied customer.

  8. Posted September 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I love the photo of Camilla in the sink! She’s absolutely beautiful the way she is!


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