When I looked at my appointment book for the day, I thought something must be wrong. Someone who worked in the fitness industry was bringing his cat in to the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals. Did he confuse us for a different kind of weight management clinic? Is he looking to get muscle on his cat or maybe kitty protein shakes?
I was utterly surprised when I called for my appointment in the lobby and an athletic man stood up with an almost 20-pound cat! I asked if I could speak bluntly with him. Why does someone who clearly knows a lot about keeping healthy need to bring his cat to a veterinary nutritionist? What would he say if the cat was one of the people he helps to keep fit every day? Our conversation then went something like this…
“Well, I’d tell her, suck it up, buttercup. Do some kitty pushups and no more treats!”
“Well, I have to ask, then, what’s stopping you from doing this with your cat?”
With a worried look of guilt on his face, he replied, “Well, Dr. Linder, I mean… she meows at me…”
This was the moment I realized that I was treating pet obesity all wrong. I needed to focus less on the pet and more on the relationship between people and their pets. That’s what’s literally cutting the lives short of the dogs and cats we love so much.