How to help a cat lose weight?

We’ve noticed lately that Shorty – the waif-like ginger kitten that turned up at the finca where we live in rural Mallorca in August 2012 – has developed something of a barrel-belly. If he could speak, he might say the same about me! (Only joking, honestly). It’s obviously not a case of pregnancy, as we took the little mite to be neutered as soon as he was deemed ready and it was clear, even to those of us without veterinary training, that he was a little chap – with not-so-little chap-bits!

The truth is that Shorty has always been a gutsy cat – on every level. He wormed his way into an existing family of feral cats who’d been born, in two separate litters from the same mother, on our land. This was their home and territory, and they initially weren’t too thrilled to see a tiny ginger kitten trying to muscle in at meal times. He persisted and the five remaining cats in the family now accept  him as one of their own.

Food time!

Shorty really enjoys his food. And everyone else’s. Our outdoor cats have their own individual feeding bowls and twice a day assemble for food – each eating from their own bowl. But it’s not long before Shorty decides that he needs to be eating a little something from all the other bowls too.  He could also be supplementing his food intake with ‘things’ acquired during his ramblings. When the cold weather arrives on Mallorca, Shorty will be well padded to deal it, but we want him to be healthy at the same time.

So, The Boss and I are currently thinking about how we could put him on a controlled diet. The logistics aren’t easy, as he’s used to eating with his adopted ‘siblings’. If only there were a Slimming World for cats . . .

Shorty after one month with us. Fourteen months later it's time for a diet!

Shorty after one month with us. Fourteen months later it’s time for a diet!



Operation Shorty

No longer like a toy that's lost its stuffing

No longer like a toy that’s lost its stuffing

If you’re a regular reader of Living in Rural Mallorca, you’ll know that we have quite a clan of cats who consider our finca to be their territory – and local restaurant. The latest addition to our cat family joined us in August 2012, making his first mark on our lives by biting The Boss (who subsequently required a hospital visit and a tetanus jab).  Little Shorty was ginger, only a few weeks old, dragging an injured back leg around with him, and so thin that he looked like a soft toy that had lost its stuffing. We had tried to catch the little thing to take it to the vet’s for treatment, but hadn’t expected him to be quite so feisty.

Long story short, Shorty is now a firm fixture in our feline family. He’s wormed his way into the affections (and food bowls) of the other cats – who are all from the same mother. He’s the one who sits closest to the front door when it’s feeding time, and is the last to ‘leave the table’, having cleaned all of the bowls of any crumbs. He is, as the Spanish say about something so cute, a bomboncito.

But Shorty has recently been exhibiting signs of impending manhood: spray-marking, getting a bit aggressive with some of his adopted ‘family’, and yowling for a bit of female action. This week, we decided it was time for him to be neutered. Catching him was easy: Shorty loves a little cuddle in the mornings, so afterwards we scooped him into the travelling cage and took him to our local vet’s.

It’s a snip

He’s the seventh feral cat we’ve had neutered, so we’re rather well known there. It’s a pity they don’t have a loyalty scheme, really. We have huge respect for the whole team there, and everything they’ve done for our adopted and our own cats.  When we moved to Mallorca, bringing our rescue Maine Coon and Birman cats with us, I was concerned that we wouldn’t find the level of expertise and care that we’d experienced at our local practice in the UK. I needn’t have worried: I doubt we’d find better veterinary – or pet owner – treatment anywhere. (When our Maine Coon was diagnosed with lymphoma and had his first session of chemotherapy, the veterinary nurse brought us coffees and a couple of chocolates to sustain us as we sat with him.)

After his post-op recuperation in our annexe bedroom, Shorty is now back to his normal cheeky little ginger self. We have no idea where he came from, but wherever he goes in the future (as much as we’d love him to stay, he’ll probably make his own way in the world one day), he should be safer now that’s he neutered.

Only Chico is left to have his ‘little op’ now. And the most nervous member of our little cat family will certainly be a challenge to catch; pass the falconer’s gauntlets please . . .

Shorty takes an awayday

In the early hours of Monday I was woken by the sound of fierce winds whipping around our finca; I could hear the metal chairs rocking on the slightly uneven tiled terrace outside. My first thoughts were for the eight outdoor cats that have adopted us, hoping that they were sheltering somewhere safe and unruffled by the howling winds. Last winter The Boss built them somewhere to shelter – grandly christened by us as The Apartments – but who knows what feral cats get up to during the night?

A few hours later, the wind had eased off and the sun was shining – the start of a week of very good weather for Mallorca in January. Yesterday, the mercury even nudged the 20 degrees Celsius mark. Today, it’s the start of February, which can be the chilliest month here. The first day of the month was pleasantly warm and sunny, but the forecast is for “plunging temperatures” over the next few days.

I digress. I was relieved on Monday morning to see most of the cats waiting outside the front door, as usual, for their breakfast.  Jetta, the mother of six of the others, was nowhere to be seen – which isn’t unusual for her. Neither was Shorty, the ginger kitten who came into our lives in August when he took a couple of bites out of The Boss’s finger. This feisty little feline has become a much-loved young cat, game for a cuddle if there’s one going – and always hungry. Since he decided this was to be his home – and the rest of the cats were to be his surrogate family – he’s never missed a meal and calls the loudest of all of the cats for his bowl of food. But on Monday morning, there was no sign of him. The Boss discreetly looked in the lane that passes our finca – two kittens have previously fallen prey to passing traffic – but reported no sighting.

Going, going, soon be gone.

Going, going, soon be gone.

It was only when I saw the old ruin at the end of the field that my heart sank. Having lost the roof a few weeks ago (, the old casita was now minus most of its back wall and part of the side wall – presumably blown down in the early morning winds. My fear was that Shorty might have taken shelter in the old building and been trapped by falling rubble. The property is now too dangerous to consider going inside, but we stood outside and called Shorty’s name to reassure ourselves that he wasn’t still in there alive but trapped.

Monday was a worrying day and I found it hard to concentrate on writing an article with a looming deadline. I went outside frequently, hoping to see that little bundle of ginger naughtiness waiting for something to eat, but no. He didn’t appear for dinner either. I went to bed feeling sad, and a little annoyed with myself for becoming so attached – yet again – to another feral cat.

On Tuesday morning, all was right again with my world. First thing, Shorty was at the front door, miaowing louder than ever for his breakfast. I’d love to know where he was all day Monday . . .