Sunday, September 25, 2005

Efficacy of the Physics Diet: The Case of Milo (Feline)

by Tom Bozzo

The oldest and least often depicted of our children is on a diet. When we brought him home from the Humane Society, Milo was a young adult cat of roughly 8-1/2 lb who'd spent a fair amount of his life to that point on the streets. The guy who handled the adoption, a slip of a fellow himself who kept twenty feral cats in an apartment the size of a large pet carrier (*), assayed our beast and thought he could stand to lose a few ounces.

In any event, the good life in Nakoma agreed with Milo, and by the time John was born, he had made his way to something in the vicinity of 13-14 lb. The steady increases were getting us a little grief at the vet visits. He is seen here a couple days before John was born, at his nearest point to homelessness since his adoption (he'd bitten Suzanne the week before):

The rapprochement was to feed the cat on demand, under the theory that a skinny but mean cat was going to have more problems than a tut-tutting vet, especially with a new baby in the house. He'd made it to about 17 lb. as of election time — twice the cat he once was:

Still, with more cats and especially a lot more dogs in the new neighborhood, it was clear that Milo wasn't seeing the sights quite the way he used to. Frequent visitors could tell he was adding mass with some alacrity:

The weigh-in just north of 21 lb. at last month's checkup led the vet to read me a short version of the Riot Act. We could try to get him to shed some weight by normal means, otherwise in addition to costing us an extra $10/month to keep the house free of fleas (as he needs a second tube of the flea-killing stuff, but still a bargain at an arbitrary multiple of the price) we'd have to put him on a special diet of only-sold-at-the-vet cat food instead of the Iams Weight Control (**).

Even though he gets some oil in his diet to try to keep his coat shiny and dander-free, the Shangri-La Diet was out of the question. The only choice really was to actually measure his food and hope neither we nor the local rodent population didn't suffer too much for it. I would have to conclude that hunting is either tough going, not a high net calorie activity, or some combination, as his one-month weigh-in was at 20 lb. 5 oz. -- 3/4 lb. down.

So far, he's taken the limited diet, well, like a cat. He hasn't eaten us yet, but he's probably thinking about it.

(*) Comic exaggeration here as neither of us can remember the exact details.

(**) This is the only example I can think of where a product whose name was euphemistic became less so. This was once called "Less Active," which I suppose confused people who thought it was only for geriatric cats.
He does not come across as a warm and fuzzy kind of guy, does he?

So, does he attack the children at night as well or does he only bite Suzanne? I mean, what did he ever do to make it up to her? Because at the very least, I should think he owes her an apology.

As for the diet - hmmm. So he gains another 20 pounds but keeps his jaws to himself. Seems like a good deal to me.
He's foregone a lot of attention becuase of the kids (with whom he does really well), even forcing him to turn to the Internets for solace, so I've been paying attention to the need to re-socialize him. His relationship with Suzanne is beyond repair.
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