Note: Sometimes you have a lot to say, and on days like that bloggers stock pile blogs for other days. This one was in my draft pile, finished, but waiting for the right time to post it. Since I wrote this, my beloved Tesh has passed on. She is much missed, and I am now down to 2 cats, but the data are still valid, and so is the conclusion.
No rats today.
I currently have 3 cats. They are genetically completely unrelated and of very different ages. They live together and all have access to the same foods.
Tesh is my senior, 18. She currently weighs 5 lbs, down from 6. Her weight has been stable her whole life. She has never been particularly interested in food. If her sisters crowd her at a dish, she’ll wander off and ignore it until later. Right now she gets a lot of extra offerings of high fat treats because its important to keep your senior cat eating, but she hasn’t gained any extra weight.
Neeka is 4. I think she’s an expensive pure bred, but there is no way to know for certain as she’s a rescue. When she came to live with us she was thin, but not starving. Her fur was skraggly and dry. Almost 3 years later she’s energetic and healthy with glossy fur and a probably an extra pound because she really likes to eat the treats her sister Tesh doesn’t finish. I think without those she’d probably settle to a slightly lower weight.
There there is Isis. Isis is 6. Isis could stand to lose 2 or even 3 lbs, a significant amount for someone who only weighs 10 lbs to start with.
Isis has a food allergy.
When she was a very young cat she often had…litterbox trouble. Not misbehavior but rather an upset tummy. Which becomes quite noticeable on a long haired cat. Sorry if that’s a little graphic. Can we say Ewww? But it did make it obvious so I could track the problem.
Because I have my own food allergies, after the 2nd call to the vet to treat an extreme problem I started tracking what she ate and when and what caused trouble. I eventually tracked it down to chicken.
Yes, my cat is allergic to chicken. Do you have any idea how challenging it is to find chicken free cat kibble?
That isn’t the point though. The point is the conclusions it encourages.
I have 3 cats with an identical food supply. One is thin, one could ‘stand to lose 5 lbs’ (like most adults), and one is much heavier than she should be. The heavy one has had her digestive tract compromised with antibiotics and inflammatories and steroids, and foods that made her sick.
Isis doesn’t eat nearly as much as Neeka, but Neeka isn’t nearly as overweight.
How much of her weight problem was caused by her exposure to food allergens and subsequent possible damage to her intestinal tract? How much is just genetic? (I know her biological mother is thin with a small frame, but her other parent is a nameless one night yowl.)
Does any of this correlate over to humans, with a damaged digestive tract causing truly excessive weight gain?
I think so, but I don’t have any proof to offer. Anecdotally, I know a lot of overweight people. Those who are most seriously overweight often turn out to have an undiagnosed food allergy, like I did. I think this is a much bigger problem than western medicine would like us to believe.
As an interesting aside, Isis *knows* that she is allergic to chicken. She will not eat it. If treats or raw meat are being offered she will smell and if it is chicken I get a dirty look and she flees the scene like it might be a contact poison. Even if it means she goes hungry instead.
Would people learn what was bad for them if we could listen to our bodies rather than external voices?