Project: Skinny Baby (update)

If you haven’t read Weightloss!, then a bunch of this won’t make any sense. Myself, I hate required reading, but if you want to understand how we got here, you might want to jump over and read that other entry first.

We have continued to make progress, have had some setbacks, and I’ve got enough data for a graph now, so it feels like time for an update. First, the good stuff:

Recap & first setback #

Where we left it last time is that we’d gotten Baby to just under 17lbs – the Sweet 16s, as it were – and were pretty happy with the progress. And then stuff happened. The first thing was a setback resulting from the fact that Baby at some point realized that he could now jump all the way up onto the kitchen counter where we kept the forbidden “free access” food. This was the bowl that was responsible for keeping the other boys from trying to eat Baby’s metered food; we knew we’d have to deal with it some day, but it came a lot sooner than I expected, and we didn’t really have a solution. What I ended up doing was getting a second timed feeder and put both on the ground, set to go off at the same time. The boys all got conditioned to the ringing of the bowl, and so there was never an issue with Baby having access to two servings, and that effectively addressed that issue – although with some unexpected consequences I’ll detail below.

Second life change #

The second thing that happened was that d’Artagnan went to live with his aunt in California. I have a need to explain this, because although I think it was the right thing to do and the best solution for everyone, I miss him and feel some guilt.

So, a little backstory: we got d’Artagnan first as a companion for the aged and failing last of three sisters, our previous set (1)Some advice to people looking to be first-time cat-owners: while getting them as siblings can be sweet, it means they’re all the same age and you will most likely come to a day when they start dying, one by one, within a couple of years of one another. Losing one is hard; losing three within as many years broke me, and I’m not exaggerating. Spread their ages out. . He was our second choice, but our first got adopted to someone else first, so we got d’Artagnan. But then a few days later the adoption agent showed up at our door one afternoon and told us that the other home hadn’t worked out, and she was desperate because she didn’t have room anymore for the kitten – and that kitten was Remy (Baby). Gigi passed a few months later, and d’Artagnan – who was a sagely 1 y/o to Baby’s 3 mos – raised Baby as his own personal cat toy.

Fast forward 6 years, and we adopt Tissot; he was living in a crowded home with dogs, and he did not like dogs, and we felt like he’d be better off out of that environment. For his part, Baby seemed ambivalent to Tissot, but d’Artagnan decided that Tissot was his nemesis (2)We are experienced with introducing cats, and did what we could: Tissot lived in the house entirely in a guest room for the first two weeks, for example. . Fortunately for everyone, Monika’s sister and her husband, who had lost their cat about a year ago, had started being quite lonely and had been looking for an adoption. Their situation was perfect for d’Artagnan: no other cats; a large, enclosed courtyard he can freely access; and Southern California weather. He sincerely seems to be happier there than he was here, and they adore him; it was a good decision.

To bring this back on topic, the upshot of this is that the number of cats in our household changed again, feeding was disrupted, and with one thing and another, Baby’s weight crept back up into the 17lb range, which you can see from the graph. We adjusted the feeders and got it back down into the 16’s again, but then Tissot’s weight started dropping too, and Tissot is about the right weight, so I’m fiddling with the food dispensers. I will re-iterate that, for controlling weight, these things are indispensable. They keep begging under control – as much as can be expected – and are relatively easy controls to adjust gains and losses.

Unexpected consequences #

I promised I’d return to this. The best thing about these feeders is the surprising behaviors that result. This time, it was the ringing bell.

When the feeders dispense, they first make a small whirring sound – if one of the cats is near, that triggers them, but it’s quite quiet and so what really gets them running is the sound of the kibble hitting the metal bowls.

I’m the first to admit that our boys are not the smartest of cats; that one was d’Artagnan, and he’s living a life of luxury in his S. California ocean view estate; what we have is maybe one full cup of smarts, between the two of them.

The funniest behavior is Tissot – who also has the least going on between his ears. He’s pretty; he doesn’t need to be smart. When the first bowl rings, he comes running and starts eating – but even if he’s only eaten one piece of kibble, when the second bowl rings, he runs over to that bowl to eat. Baby usually arrives late to the party, so Tissot’s at the first bowl, but Baby is smart enough to know the second one will go pretty soon and so he waits for it. But when Tissot comes over (Tissot doesn’t mind sharing; Baby does), Baby doesn’t realize that there’s food in the first bowl, so he just sits down and waits. Tissot is usually full before the bowl is empty, so then Baby makes the rounds and cleans up.

They’ve gotten smarter about this; after a couple of corrections by us, Tissot looks at the second bowl speculatively, but no longer goes to it when it rings, and Baby for his part, will simply go wherever Tissot isn’t. So they seem to have figured it out; now we just have to get the portions dialed in so that Tissot can maintain his weight while Baby keeps losing.

Summary #

Our target is still the 15s. Under 16, even if only by an ounce. If we can get there, then maybe we’ll look at 14. The vet wants him at 10, which we both think is absurd – if we got him to 12, I’d stop it there. Still, we’re doing what we can, and trying to not have any drastic changes. I’m hoping to check in at 16.5.