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The Too-Fat Cat

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A friend used to tell me that I grew bigger cats than anyone he’d ever met. Not necessarily bigger in the sense of “fatter” (although that has come into play more than once), but in the sense of “large from nose to tail”. Q he referred to as “The Viking Longcat” because, when reposing in full extension, Q looks to be about four feet long. Considering he had liver-function issues when I found him, I take his size as a testament to the benefits of good care. Of course, since he also spent several years weighing in at 22 pounds, “big” is an appropriate descriptor in several ways. And others of the kittehs are big in either the body length or rotundity sense. Or possibly both.

But the prize winner for the weight aspect has to be Poppet. And I’m not saying that’s a good thing.

Poppet is going to be a year old on March 27. She was one of the runts – I don’t know if there’s an official set of parameters for that designation or not, but there were four in her litter (six kittens total) who were four ounces or smaller.

Two of them died, the first a week after birth and the second a week after that, poor little girls. I was afraid Poppet was going to be next.

But she wasn’t. She grew more slowly than her remaining siblings; in fact, the fourth runt, a little boy, was soon vying for biggest-kitten honors, but Poppet lagged behind as far as her physical development was concerned. For example, her paws.

I don’t know how many of you have experience with newborn kittens, but their paws are pretty much hairless, and their claws don’t retract. My guess about the latter aspect is that it makes it easier for them to reach the mother’s nipples and hang on long enough to nurse, but I’ve never actually gotten around to asking the vet…. Anyway, rather than looking like traditional, grown-up-cat paws, kittens have what look like monkey paws. And Poppet stayed at monkey-paw stage far longer than her siblings.

Poppet Monkey-Paws

That wasn’t the only thing. Her fur was slow to fill in and get long (well, American shorthair long), so she looked a bit nekkid compared to her littermates. And she was a Yoda Kitty for what seemed weeks longer than her sibs.

Oh…I guess I should explain that last item. As kittens grow, they go through a phase during which their craniums and ears spend a little time growing more quickly than the rest of them, and they end up looking like Yoda for a while. Hence, “Yoda Kitty”.

Picture it, if you will: a dusty gray calico kitten with stubbly fur, monkey paws and a Yoda face, and short stubby legs that move okay but aren’t really coordinated and don’t take her very far. Better yet, here are a couple of photos for reference. Funny-looking little girl, she was, but smart as she could be; according to the vet tech who took the babies home with her (for their every-two-hour feedings), Poppet was the first of the bunch to figure out the concepts of eating solid food, drinking from a bowl, and using a litter box.

Poppet at 31 days old

I worried about how far behind she seemed to be, physically speaking, and one of the vets was concerned she might have an endocrine problem of some sort. She just kept on growing at her own pace, though, and while she was still the smallest kitten, it was obvious she was also healthy and strong.

Fast forward to now… and find something new to worry about. Have you ever seen one of those nature shows dealing with insects? Specifically, a termite queen – tiny head and distended body? Unfortunately, Poppet is now built along those lines. Based on the size of her skull and her general configuration (body and tail length, and the length of her legs), she should probably weigh around eight pounds, give or take a little.

I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago because I thought maybe that endocrine problem had become a reality. She weighed in at fourteen pounds.

The vet’s first thought, however, was that she has a slow metabolism, so the first course of action was to switch her from kitten food to an adult variety. It’s been going well so far, at least in the sense that she’s eating the new food but not gorging herself (which might mean she wasn’t getting enough nutrients, or simply that the new stuff didn’t leave her feeling satisfied).

My hope is that in six months, she’ll have lost a pound or two. And then Poppet will no longer be the Too-Fat Cat.

Updated 3/18/10 to add, for your edification… Her Royal Highness, Poppet Pudge Monkey-Paws!

See what I mean?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/18/2010 6:46 AM

    Now that I think of it, it’s a surprisingly scary time, that itsy bitsy kittsy stage. They are SO fragile. (AND a little scary looking, just in case you’re not scared by fragility. Ha!)

    Where’s the shot of her being Too-Fat? It’s awfully hard to imagine.

    PS. WHAT a great subtitle!

  2. 03/19/2010 7:40 AM

    Awwwgk! You were not exaggerating. It’s a picture I could NOT have conjured on my own.

    • Syd permalink*
      03/19/2010 8:40 AM

      Trust me, I have trouble believing it myself…every time I see her, I wonder where the runt went!

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