Today IAMS launch their Pet Pledge initiative for 2018, and I’m making my pledge with them for my cat Zak. Let me tell you a little bit about my cat.
Zak is a large ginger tom who came to me via The Blue Cross almost four years ago. He was seven at the time, and his full name was Zakira. The Blue Cross were a little in the dark about his past. All they could tell me was that he had spent all seven years of his life in a cage. He had come to the charity with another cat, who had a bacterial infection (campylobacteriosis). Zak picked up a bit of it and had to stay at The Blue Cross for six months before he was ready to be rehomed. He was extremely stressed out which wasn’t helping his recovery, so they put him up for rehoming as soon as they could.
Zak was my 35th birthday present to myself. At the time I was single, living alone in my flat and slowly resigning myself to life as a crazy cat lady. When I first went to visit him, I was shocked at how big he is. He’s absolutely huge (long as well as tall) and weighs in anywhere between 9 and 10 kg. Enormous for a cat, in other words. I knew he had to come home with me, so quickly bought all the equipment he’d need on my way home. I went to bring him home the next day.
His First Experience Of A Real Home
Having him at home was a bit of a shock. Although I have always had cats for as long as I remember growing up, I’d become used to only having to fend for myself. Zak was extremely clingy, and I had to stand up to eat anything as he wanted to crawl all over me for a cuddle every second of the day. He was terrified of the toilet flushing, the noise of the TV, and I couldn’t vacuum anything for months. My flat was a split level and I remember the first time he was allowed to roam about and found the stairs. I don’t think he had ever seen any before, and he spent a good hour just running up and down them.
I met Sean only a month after I got Zak. By then, Zak and I had bonded well. The first time Sean came to visit my flat, Zak glared jealously at him from the corner all night. It took some time but he finally allowed Sean into our lives, and now they are the best of friends.
As Zak had always been kept indoors he was going to be a house cat. He had a litter tray indoors for many months. It became clear that he was not going to be happy like this, now he’d had the chance to stretch his legs a bit. Sean kept mentioning getting a cat flap for him but I was very scared of letting him out and put it off for a long time. Eventually I realised Zak would be happier if he could go out so I agreed. I then spent many anxious days trailing around after him outside. On a side note, Zak is so big that he could barely squeeze through a cat flap. We had to get him a small dog flap instead!
Zak’s had his health problems in the past four years, brought about we think by his diet in his previous life. The main issue is his gastrointestinal tract, as he has colitis which can flare up unexpectedly. Two years ago we thought we were going to lose him. He was in the hospital for three days on a drip, and it was just dreadful. Since then he has been fine (touch wood) and we think we have his diet stabilised. We have to be very careful that he doesn’t have access to food he shouldn’t eat, and we also have to watch his weight. He has a tendency to put on a lot of weight, which puts pressure on his joints and activates his arthritis. The slightest deviance from his measured food portions can set things off.
I think food is still a comfort to him, which is probably another long lasting effect from his early days. When I take his food bowls away to be washed, he is always very upset as if he’ll never be fed again. He will overeat given the chance.
A Big Softie
He is the sweetest character ever. This is despite the struggles and challenges he’s faced for many years of his life. He absolutely loves his cuddles and kisses and demands them all day long (and he’s very hard to fend off when he wants them!). Zak has an extremely high pitched meow which is very feminine for such a big cat. He gets anxiety when one of us is away from the house, as he likes everything ‘just so’. He loves children, and has never once lashed out at anyone. My cat also sits patiently while we clip his gigantic claws or put his ear drops in. Zak loves other cats too, even though they don’t like him. He’ll just sit contentedly while they hiss and yowl at him. He’s such a gentle giant and I can’t imagine life without him.
My Pledge To Zak
As part of the IAMS Pet Pledge, I’m making a promise to Zak. Since he’s irresistible, he has a tendency to get his own way. When he wants food hours before his tea time, I sometimes give in. However, he should only be having two set meals a day and they should always be weighed out. Like his mummy, he’s podged out a bit over the festive period and needs to get his diet back in check in the New Year. With the weather being so bad, he’s not been going out as much so this has not helped.
I’m promising Zak that we will stick to his diet in January and that he will feel lighter and bouncier in a few weeks. It will be tough at first. We’ll get back to his strict twice-a-day feeding routine and he’ll get used to it again. It’s vital that we do this for his long-term health and happiness.
Zak also has probiotics and a joint supplement on his food every day (for colitis and arthritis).
I promise to him that I will always provide this for him so he stays healthy.
We’ll also make daily time to play with his toys. He loves his kicking toys and will happily kick them to death for a few minutes every day. I’ll make sure these are always on hand for him to attack whenever he feels the urge. He’ll burn more calories when he’s not inclined to go outside much.
Make Your Own IAMS Pet Pledge
Pet owners are being encouraged to make their own pledge to their furry friends as part of the IAMS Pet Pledge initiative.
Did you know that:
- 49% of dogs and 44% of cats in the UK now considered overweight or obese
- Despite this, 70% of owners ‘treat’ their pet to human food which can lead to weight gain
- The foods given to pets includes naan bread, muffins and cereals
- 15% claim their pet guilt trips them into giving up titbits and treats
It’s time for pet lovers to take action with the IAMS Pet Pledge.
Whether it’s a promise to improve their nutrition, more weekend walkies or those purrfect snuggles, IAMS is encouraging owners to make a pledge this new year for happier and healthier family pets all over the country.
It’s not just diet that needs a new year overhaul for our pets. Many are lacking in regular, quality exercise with 30% exercising their dog for less than 30 minutes each day. For those who do walk their dogs daily, the average dog walk for most medium sized breeds takes just over one hour (one hour and four minutes to be exact).
When it comes to cats, they enjoy 34 minutes of play each day. They often play on their own chasing things such as string or toys. Perhaps this could be a reason why only one in ten (10%) cat owners believe exercise is a key factor in maintaining overall health (vs. 41% of dog owners).
The research also asked pet owners when their pet was at their happiest. For dogs it was when going for a walk and for cats it was sleeping in the same bed as their owners. This proves that human interaction is more important to our pet’s happiness than human food!
Whether it be through improving their nutrition, more weekend walkies or those purrfect snuggles, the IAMS Pet Pledge is a community for pet owners to share their own experiences and pick up helpful advice from the nutrition experts at IAMS.
I’d love to hear about your pets! What pledge will you be making to your pet in 2018?
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