Peaches Goes on Catkins

By Felice Prager

Peaches Goes on Catkins

We never call her fat – at least not when she is within earshot – and when we do discuss her extreme appreciation for all things culinary, we whisper. (Peaches has exceptional hearing and can hear a bag of cat food from any corner of the house – even when she is asleep.) To preserve her fragile self-esteem, we refer to her as “extra-medium,” and we never refer to her need for excessive amounts of food as gluttony. She is merely more enthusiastic about eating than my other cats. The truth is, in politically correct terminology, Peaches is our little feline meatball.

We adopted Peaches as an adult. Her mother died in childbirth, and she had been bottle-fed by my son and daughter-in-law. She was brought home to a small two-room apartment that she shared with a male tuxedo cat named Samson. There was always a ruckus over food. Samson pushed tiny Peaches out of the way. Peaches, afraid of being without a chance to eat, began to sleep near the food bowls.

Then my daughter-in-law became ill. Doctors suggested giving up the cats. My son asked us to take both cats. I already had four cats, but it was us or taking these two sweet kitties to the pound. My son drove them from northern Colorado where he lived to our home in Arizona.

Samson came into the house and, being a dominant male, began to let my existing cats know that he was their new boss. Samson hissed and swatted everyone, but no blood was drawn and he melded into the pack rather quickly.

Peaches, by then already slightly rounder than most cats, ran under a chair at the furthest end of the house and wouldn’t come out. I could see her nervous eyes from beneath the chair, but I couldn’t get her to come out. My husband, other son and I took turns down on the floor trying to calm Peaches down, but her new environment was too scary – especially after 15 hours in a car. Eventually, I tricked her. I put the food bowl in the hallway where she could see it and made a cat food trail to the bowl. Then I hid. The food kept disappearing. I moved the bowl further out each time until the bowl was in the kitchen where it belongs – at the other end of the house. In time, Peaches was waiting with her brothers and sisters as I filled their shared bowl each morning. I left the food down on the floor at all times in case a cat was taking a catnap at mealtime.

The problem was that Peaches, just like many of us humans, ate all the time, regardless of her level of hunger. If someone came into the room, Peaches ate. If we had company, Peaches ate. If we changed the channel on the TV, Peaches needed a snack. If I moved a magazine on the table, Peaches was at the bowl. My son had brought a kitten bed from Colorado to make their new home seem like their old home. That bed was quickly getting too small for Peaches. Instead of seeing this as a dietary issue, I simply bought Peaches a bigger bed.

Recently, I held Peaches and weighed the two of us together. Then I weighed myself and subtracted that from the combined weight. Peaches weighed 21 pounds. The other cats weighed between 7 and 12 pounds.

I was also not happy with my own weight. Having always had a weight issue myself, I knew there was only one answer: It was time for Peaches and me to go on diets.

My diet was easy. I cut down on calories and began a regular exercise regime.

With Peaches, unfortunately, weight and health cannot be explained to her. I bought diet cat food. The vet said our other cats would not be hurt eating this, and they don’t notice a difference. They just know when they have had enough.

I have also started putting down food for an hour in the morning and at dinnertime. After that, I lift the bowl and put it up on the highest counter where the thinner cats can still get to it, but Peaches can’t. I figured if Peaches gets thin enough where she can jump, she will be able to have between meal snacks, too.

Unfortunately, Peaches still sits in the kitchen where her food bowl belongs. She waits for hours for us to put the food down. If she looks too sad, I take a tiny handful of her diet food and put it down in a kitten bowl for her. She looks very silly eating out of a kitten-sized bowl, but this seems to satisfy her. Peaches guards her small dish as if to say, “Hey, big girls can’t jump, so this is mine. Yours is way up there!”

We continue to pay a lot of attention to each cat, but since Peaches and I share the same not-ever-going-to-be-skinny-without-major-effort gene, I tend to stay down on the floor with her longer. I play fetch with each cat, but I play with Peaches longer. She also gets brushed more. Her favorite game involves running after a flashlight beam. Each cat gets a turn to run around like a silly kitten. Peaches gets the longest turn – and the other cats, as if they know something is going on, let her run around and pretend she’s skinny.

About this writer

  • Felice Prager Felice Prager is a freelance writer and multisensory educational therapist from Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the author of five books: Waiting in the Wrong Line, Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Negotiations, TurboCharge Your Brain, SuperTurboCharge Your Brain, and Quiz It: ARIZONA. Her essays have been published locally, nationally and internationally in print and on the Internet. Learn more at www.WriteFunny.com.

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