The pain of being told your firstborn (cat) is a fatty '“Â Steve CanavanÂ
There have been lots of mediaÂ reports over the past few years about youngsters being overweight and I've alwaysÂ thought, '˜I'll never raise a child of mine to be like that'.Â But I must confess it has happened.
My son '“ Percy, the cat '“ has, much to my shame, been described as obese and we have been warned to alter his diet.
What happened was this. I took him to the vets the other day to have what were described as some '˜routine jabs'.
I have no idea what these '˜routine jabs' are, only that the vet seems to think they are very important, which may or may not be linked to the fact they involve me handing over toÂ himÂ the best part of Â£100.
Watching Percy have these injections annoys me, for when the vet sticks the huge ominous-looking needle into his stomach, my cat sits calmly and obediently and looks completely unperturbed.
Indeed last time he had these jabs, he reclined on his back and lit a cigarÂ while browsing a copy of Hello magazine.
However, if I go near Percy with so much as, say, a small brush, he turns into a raging tiger and I end up bloodied and hopping round the kitchen unsuccessfully trying to suppress the urge to utter a wide and colourful array of profanities.
Anyway, after doing the jabs, the vet '“ a very pleasant young man with an ever-so-slight aroma of King Charles Spaniel '“ did some other general checks, one of which was to weighÂ Percy.
After plonking him on the scales the vet paused and frowned at the weight displayed on the monitor.Â
'˜Hmm, I'll try that again', he said. So he did. The exact same weight came up.
'˜Well I'm afraid Mr Canavan,' the vet said in a tone reminiscent of myÂ science teacher the time he reprimanded me for accidentally dropping a test-tube full of burning magnesium ribbon on Caroline Fawkes' head, '˜your cat is overweight.'
I didn't know what the correct reaction was to that, so I waited a moment and then played it safe.
'˜Oh',Â I said.
'˜Yes, it's nothing too much to worry about,' he continued, '˜but for a cat of his age he should be less than that.'
'˜Oh',Â I said again; I was struggling, I've never had a conversation about cat weight before.
The vet was very nice after that '“ I think because my bottom lip was wobbling and he sensed I might burst into tears and wail '˜but my wife and I have always tried to do the best for our child' '“ and gently told me we had to cut back on what we feed him.
It turns out the leftovers of a tin of tuna, a couple of Whiskas' sachets, a bowlful of dried biscuits, and the fluff off my right sock is too much.
So we've changed the amount of grub we give him, but it has not been easy. In the first week on his new reduced diet, he has been very temperamental.
He stares in disbelief at his empty bowl, paces the kitchen making grumbling noises and shooting moody looks in our direction, and has point blank refused to do any housework.
We've managed to cut his diet by about half, though it has led to a couple of sleepless nights due to the little rascal hopping into our bedroom in the early hours and loudly meowing, howling and generally causing a scene.
But I thinkÂ I solved this atÂ 4amÂ on MondayÂ by hurling him headfirst out of the window.Â
He's been a lot quieter since, though on the downside he is walking with a heavy limp. (For RSPCA officersÂ reading, that was a joke; I threw him out feet first).
But hopefully, helped by our new-found discipline in the feeding department, we'll get him down to his fighting weight soon.
We are booked in for another appointment at the vetÂ in a fortnight, though I think I'll let Mrs C takeÂ Percy to that one '“ being admonished a second time for raising an unhealthy child might be too much to take.'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹