Friday, May 11, 2012

What we can learn from the death of Meow the fat cat

Lucy eating her cat food
And oldie but a goodie of Lucy noshing.
I heard about Meow, the 39-pound cat, several weeks ago. Frankly, I couldn't believe that a cat could possibly get this big and live. At the time, I was tempted to blog about this, but also, I was afraid to jump on the owner-bashing bandwagon. It's really easy to look at this gigantic cat (photos are here, for the curious) and start rattling sabres and claiming the previous owners should be charged with feline abuse. In fact, many people do just that in the comments sections of articles about this cat. Since I didn't know anything about these owners, I didn't feel that I had the right to speak up.

I'm choosing to do so now because poor Meow has died. And that cat's death was totally preventable.

Cats are not designed to weigh 39 pounds. Period. Very fat cats like this are not healthy. They need medical supervision, and they need assistance. Meow's parents may have taken him to the vet and they may have gotten clear screenings for diabetes and thyroid, but this only means that he wasn't fat due to a medical problem. Instead, he was likely fat because he was provided with the wrong kind of food in amounts that were too large. A clear screen doesn't mean a clear bill of health. These owners should never have walked out of this appointment with the understanding that their cat was healthy, and the care they were providing was appropriate.

If these people looked at cartoons of cats, however, they may have told themselves that his weight was acceptable or even cute. He looked like Garfield, the epitome of a healthy cat. This is not the way a cat should look, however, and we all need to know that. Cats should be slim and trim and lithe. Fat cats soon become deathly ill cats, and that is certainly not cute. 

Now, Meow's parents had some serious health issues, and it's understandable that they made mistakes as a result. They need our compassion, not our judgement. But, until we, as a culture, agree that cats should not be fat, and we all try to keep our cats slim and healthy as a result, more Meows will certainly come.