I feel I have failed as a parent and as an American.
I have just purchased diet food for my cats.
That is a sad commentary on something. And it is no compliment to me or to this society or, least of all, to the hairy lard buckets at our house.
Talk about an affluent society. Talk about fat cats literally. A society that has to develop diet food for pets is the pinnacle of self-indulgence.
And speaking of self-indulgence, in fairness to me, this is more the cats' fault than it is mine. After all, I didn't hold a gun on them and make them stuff their faces full of food. They did it all themselves.
As a result, Delilah looks like an upholstered football with legs.
And Sterling is a Siamese so he has always been the color of a seal. Now he is also the size and shape of a seal. I look at him and I don't know whether to throw him a fish or to balance a beach ball on his nose.
He lies down while he eats and sometimes deliberately falls asleep with his face in the food dish in fear he won't have the strength when he awakens to drag himself to sustenance. He is the only person I know who uses food for a pillow.
Something had to be done. But of course, that is my opinion, not theirs. And my wife and I came to the conclusion that the cats must diet from the usual high moral plane having just slimmed down ourselves. We have joined the Thin Church. So everybody in the family will join the Thin Church.
However, cats are like people in that deciding to go on a diet is merely the first step. The next step is deciding what kind of diet. That turns out to be a lot more limited than it is for people.
For instance, my wife and I took two very different approaches. She sought professional help; she paid sadists to starve her. So her diet involves an enormous amount of record keeping. Most diets involve a lot of vegetable chopping. Hers involves not only chopping but writing. She lost weight because, between the chopping and the writing, she never had time to eat.
My approach was different. While she paid others to abuse her. I practiced self-abuse and that can also be time consuming.
She finds it easier to diet with small portions of relatively normal and highly nutritious foods. I use huge portions of empty food. She eats tiny steaks. I eat boiled celery by the gallon. Different strokes for different folks. However, I am turning green and she isn't.
But there is no such variety available for cats. For instance, to my knowledge, there are no professional weight loss clinics for cats. There is no such thing as a chain of feline diet shops where cats buy cook books and weigh in every few days to the cheers and encouragement of fellow cats.
There is no place where a cat can go sit down with some pleasant, emaciated woman in power clothes and listen to her lecture on how the plan isn't just to take off all that cat flab but to keep it off for life.
And there is no place where a cat can go and buy a week's ration of prepackaged small mice. There is no place where a cat can buy large cans of powdered sparrow to make filling blender milkshakes.
The hardest part is the exercise because any diet works better with some exercise. But what am I supposed to do gather the cats in front of the television set each morning for 30 minutes of the Jane Fonda aerobics tape?
And it wouldn't do any good to make them get down on all fours and do pushups. They are already on all fours. Cats do pushups every time they kneel down to eat.
The diet options for fat cats are limited to diet cat food. And oddly enough, it turns out that diet cat food follows my approach to dieting. It is the empty-food diet. I discovered that when I reached for the 20-pound sack of the diet version of our cats' regular brand of food and almost threw it over my shoulder, it was so light. It is about the same volume as the normal 20-pound sack but it weighs only 10 pounds. And you know what that means:
Cat celery. They take regular cat food and whip it full of air in a blender. The cat eats as much volume as before. But it has half the calories. We are starving our cats to death and they don't even know it.
So I feel guilty. I feel so guilty that I fall asleep each night with my face in a bowl of chocolate chip cookies.
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