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For the Record: How to slim down a tubby tabby

Christy Chalmers, staff writer

If you want an extra holiday challenge, try dieting with a cat.

They don’t like change, and they don’t like exercise.

The cat dieting thing started a little over a week ago, when I took my cat Buckley to the vet for her annual checkup.

Buckley is a majestic creature with a beautiful ruff around her neck and a plume of a tail that she could use to lead expeditions.

She also weighs 16 pounds.

People have made a lot of references to Buckley’s weight. I have tried to point out her heritage. She looks like the Norwegian Forest Cats I’ve seen in magazines, and I think maybe there was one in her family tree.

If so, Buckley would need the build and body to withstand a winter in Norway. I was confident of this explanation until I took Buckley to the vet and he said she should lose 4 pounds.

I considered pointing out Buckley’s Norwegian Forest Cat heritage, then remembered she spends most of her time sprawled across an easy chair.

Instead, I told Buckley I would share the pain. We would diet together.

This is easier to say than do. Cats do not like dieting.

I mapped out nice gradual changes – I’m expecting this to take several months, maybe even a year – that would wean Buckley and our other cat, Murphy, off their canned food and get them accustomed to a morning meal.

The cats are very displeased with the changes so far. They were used to a 24-hour buffet; now they get only what they’ll eat in an hour, twice daily.

They have reacted with constant noise and sleep deprivation tactics.

In the evenings, they gallop wildly around the house, jumping on furniture and generally making a great deal of noise. Buckley’s definition of exercise is to chase Murphy, causing Murphy to snarl and scream like a wild animal.

If you try to break it up, they run to their dishes and stand there yowling.

At night, Buckley marches up and down the bed, stopping every so often to give a sloppy kiss or jam her nose into an ear.

When we give them dry food, they just look at us, then walk contemptuously away.

I don’t know how much more I can take. I’ve never been a match for Buckley’s beseeching gaze or plaintive mews.

I have tremendous support from my coworkers. One pointed out a news story on pets who need to lose weight. Another refrained from buying creme-filled bundt cakes at Costco.

But the cats aren’t going to make it easy. If they wear me down, they’ll feast.

If I can wear them down, we won’t have to move to Norway.

Christy Chalmers is a staff writer for The Record-Courier.