Hercules wasn’t always a mighty 30-pound chonk, but he certainly got there quickly. This article is going to highlight the struggles we had with Hercule’s weight as well as show what interventions were done at that time, highlight the mistakes that were made and share the successes.
Before we start, though, it’s important to remember that not all people have the knowledge or the resources to put interventions in place. Our vet clinic didn’t have a formalized weightloss program until mid 2015! Before that, the advice was much more generic of “feed less” without scheduled weigh-ins or strategies. Veterinary medicine does not follow the same timeline as human medicine nor do all vet clinics have the ability to implement new programs at the same time, so if you’re finding yourself judging a person and thinking “why didn’t they do more sooner?” remember that ‘more’ wasn’t necessarily available.
When we got Hercules in December 2008, we did our new kitten check-up at the vet’s office and got him onto the Royal Canin kitten food. From there he went onto the Royal Canin preventative formula and ballooned to 19 pounds.
It’s more than possible that he was more than 19 pounds at this point, but we were measuring him on our bathroom scale by holding him with us and then subtracting our weight. As the years went by we tried this a few other times and compared it to the pediatric scale we had since bough, and the “holding him while on the scale” method was never accurate. I can only guess that the discrepancy was due to weight distribution. Since Hercules is so large, too much of him was ‘hanging off’ the sides of the scale and making the weight inaccurate.
When we told the vet in 2019 that Hercules was already 19 pounds, we were told to try the Royal Canin ‘Reducing’ formula. We were given the food without Hercules needing to go in for a checkup or a weigh-in. In 2012 I called the vet again and Hercules got put on the Royal Canin ‘Weight Control’. Again, there was no request for Hercules to come for a checkup/weigh-in and I was doing my due diligence with letting the vets know what was going on and his food being adjusted accordingly.
Had I known then what I know now, things could have been very different
Had I known then that wet food, rather than kibble, is most successful for weight loss then I would have asked about wet food. Had I known then that dieting a cat can be so tricky and you need to calculate calories based on the cat’s weight and not what the bag suggests for feeding then I would have insisted on appointments and plans. But the thing is – the vet’s office didn’t even have a weightloss program for pets until 2015. They were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had and I too was under the impression that I was doing the best I could with the knowledge I had.
Once 2015 rolled around and Hercule’s has been on Weight Control food for over year with no success, we got frustrated. Why were we paying for this expensive vet food when it’s not solving the problem? We can just buy the Royal Canin “Light/Indoor” from the pet store and save some money and it will be more convenience since the pet store is open nights and weekends.
Little did we know we would have been months away from potentially being the first client in the vet’s new weightloss program. Hindsight is always 20/20 though.
We switch Hercules to the petstore Royal Canin in 2015 and continued feeding according to bag instructions and just like when he had his food from the vet, he was still a big boy.
When he had his $500 Fart in 2016 and was put onto the new weightloss program at the vet’s office, he was eating a combination of Purina O/M canned food and kibbles. He was doing well and we were given the okay to weigh him less frequently once he got to 23 pounds.
In early 2018 however, he started gaining again. We didn’t know why – we literally hadn’t changed a single thing. How frustrating!
We found out a little while later that his weight gain was due to a formula change in the Purina O/M kibble. The calorie amounts were different – substantially different – and this no longer created a calorie deficit for him. Once we learned the source of the problem, we re-adjusted his food amounts based on the correct calories and loss happened again.
Following his penultimate pancreatitis attack and subsequent weight gain, we went back to what we knew and Herc lost the weight again. This time he lost it slower than he did before. He was older now, moving less than before, and his body had been through a lot with several bouts of pancreatitis. We were giving him the Purina O/M canned food and then added in the Paw Lickin’ Chicken from WeRuva to add variety to his protein type. Voila – it worked! The weight came off again.
Hercules left this world at 22.5 pounds – the lowest recorded weight since 2011.
Good job, buddy!