Invariably, any friend or family member with a cat question comes straight to me. And while I always try to help with some form of answer, on occasion, it’s truly impossible to offer a ten-minute solution to a complex problem involving a litter box issue, aggression in a multicat home or a sickly stray in the neighborhood.
More often than not, I encourage the person to consult with his or her veterinarian because each situation is unique and there usually isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution (the same goes for our readers when they send in complex health questions).
Ultimately, it’s up to all of us — as fellow cat lovers — to try to help new cat owners with their simple questions, and to try to be an advocate and source of support for any TNR groups or shelters in our area.
This brings me to a situation that has been ongoing in my own life. My mother and 92-year-old stepdad recently adopted an aging cat who I rescued from my backyard a couple of years ago. Lucy’s exact age is a mystery, as is her background (though I suspect she was abandoned as a pet for some reason or another).
The one thing we do know is that Lucy’s main pleasure in life is eating. I thought of her when working on the Short Takes of this issue on page 16, about how most cats self-regulate their diets to get what they need. (In Lucy’s mind, she needs EVERYTHING and often.)
So after a couple of weeks of letting Lucy settle in, my mother started a serious mission to help the cat lose some weight. I warned her that it would be a long-term challenge and not to get discouraged. My mom bought all sorts of toys to encourage exercise (Lucy isn’t too playful, as it turns out) and she doled out carefully measured meals during the day (Lucy believes that meal-time is any time someone enters the kitchen).
After a vet visit complete with dental and blood work, my mother’s mission began to keep Lucy’s kidneys in decent shape (her blood work did show some decline in kidney function) and to continue the weight-loss regimen.
This started a trend of daily text messages about what my mother had found online — her main problem was that some of the information contradicted itself, depending on what website she visited. (My favorite question of hers was: How many calories is in catnip?)
And so I really can’t wait to share with her our article on how to find a reliable nutrition website for your pet (page 3). I think it will help my mom sort out the wheat from the chaff — plus, it may give me a short respite from my daily role as “consultant” to Lucy’s health!