So why are Hector's pearly whites so bad? The first thing the vet said when he looked in his mouth was "you really need to stop feeding him on a wet diet". I had to explain that neither of my cats get canned/packet food, they don't have food left out for them and they rarely get treats. Any treats they do get are a few kibbles from their daily allowance of food which I measure out each morning. However, this rather confirmed my suspicions... You see, for a while now, I've been thinking Hector weighs more than his food intake should allow. I suspect I live near a Feeder.
It's not really Hector's fault. When he goes out on the prowl, he's obeying the same instinct as any wild cat, from Africa to Aberdeen - he's hunting. OK, so for most wild cats, there's an element of patrolling, scenting and breeding too, but H has been snipped, so his primary motive is the hunt. I tend to take the line that he probably burns off as many calories hunting as his quarry can provide (usually mice), so they shouldn't make him fat. Also, crunching on all those little bones are good for his teeth.
But what if, in the course of his hunting, he comes across a human being who's a bit soppy and starts putting food or milk down for him? An easy meal with no hunting involved and so no calories burnt off. What if this slightly soppy human being feeds him big juicy meals in gravy or jelly with no crunchy bits to scrape the gunk off his teeth? Well, poor H gets toothache so bad, that even under anaesthetic, he responds to the vet prodding the damaged tooth. And his owner gets landed with a big fat bill.
Hector's treatment today will set me back £380. It costs a lot to anaesthetise an animal. Then there's the vet's time, the after care and the antibiotics to kill off any bacteria which might have gotten into his bloodstream during the descaling and extraction. H is insured, but dental treatment is very rarely covered, if at all. Also, I trust my vet implicitly with my cats' lives. I wouldn't sign the consent form if I didn't, but even so, in the back of my mind all morning there's been a worried little voice saying 'what if...' over and over again.
So before you give your neighbour's cat a little snack, or a bowl of milk, please spare a thought for the long-term damage your kindness can do. I know you don't mean it. I know you're doing it because you like cats. I know you find him charming and affectionate and difficult to resist. But you know what? H loves a good chin rub almost as much as food.
|Chins rubs, I love chin rubs....|