Tuesday, May 8, 2012
A CAT NAMED MEOW
Maybe you saw Meow when he became famous by being on the Today show on April 23. The reason he was on that show was because he was really, really overweight. In fact, when he first arrived at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society in New Mexico, Meow weighed 39 pounds. He had been given up by the 87-year-old lady who owned him because she couldn't take care of him anymore.
I think that Meow's mom was probably very sad to have to give up her kitty because she loved him a lot. You could tell that she loved him because she gave him a ton of food to eat and lots of tasty treats with a bunch of calories in them. So Meow mostly sat around and ate and didn't get much exercise, and he got fat. This could happen to any cat in the same circumstances, or to a dog, or even to a human.
Anyway, the nice people at the Santa Fe shelter wanted Meow to have a good life, so right away they put him on a diet that had lots of protein and almost no carbohydrates. By the time he appeared on the Today show, Meow had already lost 2 pounds. Meow went to live in a foster home, and he was doing well there for a while. He would go up the stairs, which was good exercise, and he liked getting attention from his humans.
Then on Thursday of last week, Meow started wheezing. The vet at the shelter thought he might have asthma, so she put him on oxygen. But he didn't get any better, so then some specialty vets came in to help. Meow was in the emergency hospital with four different doctors trying to help him, but it turned out that his lungs were failing. And on Saturday, Meow died. He was not an old kitty. Probably he was between 2 and 5 years old. His lungs just couldn't keep working because he was so very fat.
A lot of people were interested in Meow, and they wanted him to lose weight and be healthy, but that didn't happen, which is very sad. There is a Facebook page where people could follow Meow's progress, and now they can post comments there about his death.
The best thing that Meow did was he made people more aware of the problem of pet obesity. There is actually a whole organization whose purpose is to help prevent pets from getting fat. It is called the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). In February of 2012, this group reported that about 53% of American cats and 55% of American dogs are overweight. And among these overweight pets, more than 1 in 5 is "clinically obese," which means that they are at least 30% over what their normal weight should be.
Sadly, the number of obese pets is growing, and this means that even more of these animals will end up getting arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. I don't like to point fingers -- or, uh, toes -- but a lot of the reason for all this obesity is because owners are feeding their pets too much. And besides that, people are not getting out and taking their dogs for walks or playing with their cats or otherwise giving them exercise.
two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. This means that a lot of people don't have a good picture in their minds of what a normal weight looks like for themselves or for their pets either.
On the APOP website, there is something called a Pet Weight Translator, and it tells you how extra weight on a cat or dog compares with extra weight on a man or woman. This site doesn't have all the dog breeds, like for instance, they don't have basenjis. But they do have many of the most popular breeds.
Anyway, getting back to Meow, I think it's a shame that he had to die, just because he got fed too much. Of course, Mom says I should remember this whenever I start complaining about her not giving me as much food as I would like to eat. It's just that when you're hungry, it's so hard to remember these things!