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13 Weeks: Misunderstanding Obesity


I was thinking about my old cat Radar this morning. I was having my usual low-carb breakfast of hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise, salt and pepper -- sort of Philip Glass egg salad -- and bacon, and remembering how much Radar loved bacon. Now, my other two cats don't have much interest in people food -- oh, Ali'i will deign to accept some scraps of roast pork or turkey skin, but most of the time if I offer them something they'll investigate it politely, maybe take a taste and then look at me clearly saying "are you nuts?" Radar really liked bacon and chicken.

Radar was something like 13 years old when he died, which is pretty old for an Abyssinian -- they tend to have limited shelf lives, which is too bad as they're incredible cats otherwise -- and, unusually for an Aby, he was ... plump. And a bit of a chow-hound. Ali'i and Kaleo, the current players in the role of masters of the house, are not at all plump; neither was Vashti, my first cat, nor was Yeshimbra, Radar's predecessor in the goofy Aby role.

They all have lived on effectively the same diet -- some good dry cat food freely fed, and a can of Friskies wet food split among them every day, half in the morning half at night. Oh, sometimes I try different kinds of wet food, but honestly they always seem to like Friskies the best and I can buy it at Costco in 48-can megapacks.

So, okay, you might think the difference is the human food, but Shimbra was even more gluttonous than Radar -- his opinion was that if I was eating it it must be good, and that you should never eat anything much bigger than your head unless it's a chicken -- and Vashti was quite willing to accept part of any meal of mine, and was an absolute nut for pudding, especially tapioca.

And yet, four out of five cats had no weight problem at all, and Radar was ... plump.