I have three cats. Yes that’s one cat short of a crazy cat lady, apparently. They get the same food at the same times every day as well as being able to graze. Even though the photo is a bit misleading - despite this, one cat is super skinny, one is what one might call ‘average’ and the other is a bit plump. How can this be when they live in the same house, eating the same food, getting the same amount of attention and the same care? Before I get into that – here’s a bit of background...
Freddie Purrcury (aka Honey Bear) – my skinny mini
Freddie was a shelter cat hiding way at the back while the others pranced around saying ‘pick me! pick me! We got him home and he’s super sweet but one of the most anxious cats I’ve ever met. Whenever there’s a threat (courier, loud noise, just about anything) and he gets anxious – he hides. If the anxiety is prolonged he doesn’t eat. Generally, if he’s anxious or hiding no amount of treats will lure him out. Food just doesn’t phase him. Genetically, black cats are also quite long and lean and he’s no exception. So take the two together and you have a teeny tiny little black bean pole.
Baloo (aka Bubby): My middle man
Baloo was a foster kitten fail that was rescued from a farm in Taranaki as a small kitten. He would have experienced food scarcity as a baby. Because of that, he will eat anything now and is just happy to have food and will eat whether they are hungry or not if there is food present. He loves eating, it’s his favourite, he will even pop pills no problem if they’ve got a bit of creamy treat smeared on there. So because there was a time when his food was restricted he tends to overeat whenever he gets the chance. Despite that, he’s also active and playful, and has a high metabolism compared to my other two. He loves to play and be curious and have a good scratch.
Peanut (aka Nini, short for Panini): - Plump but perfect
Peanut was also a shelter cat but we were able to get a bit of background on her. She was taken from her mother when she was a bit too young and because of that was VERY clingy from day 1. She would suckle on anything she could get her lips on including the occasional ear lobe if we were paying attention. She has always had attachment issues and is the snuggliest of the lot. If Peanut is stressed she tends to eats emotionally and will often eat more no doubt part of that being because of her past trauma. She can also be a very picky eater should there be something not quite right (on that day). Not only that but I’ve learned that tabbies are genetically prone to gaining more weight and tend to be a bit fatter than other cats. Despite that, she’s super smoochy, happy and healthy according to all her vet visits.
So why am I telling you my cats life stories? If you’ve made it this far without being bored I wanted to share these stories with you because I think it’s so fascinating how so many different circumstances can contribute to a cat’s body size. Genetics, past trauma, food scarcity, etc. The same applies to us human and our body sizes and relationship with food. IF we all had access to the same food as each other every day, we would still be different shapes and sizes. Like my cats there are hundreds of different factors that make us look like we do but not only that, these factors can also contribute to our behaviours. For all of the same reasons my cats are different sizes, we are too.
Some of the many things that affect our body sizes include:
· Socioeconomic status
· Emotional state
· Past trauma
· Where you live in the world
· Medical conditions
· Lack of sleep
· Biological sex
… and so much more!
While Peanut is the fattest of my three, despite that, she’s the healthiest. And so let my kitties remind us that we can’t judge someone’s health status by looking at them and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
If you’re not a cat fan (wait what?!) ... let’s explain things in dogs…
In conclusion, let’s be compassionate with ourselves and instead of trying to change our body size focus on getting veggies and fruit, moving our bodies in ways we enjoy, connection, stress management and trying to get a good night’s sleep. And while we’re at it, FYI, snuggling in with our cats or dogs can also be a great way to reduce stress.
If you'd like to work on your health without worrying about your weight and while improving your body confidence - that's what I'm here for! Get in touch and let's get started.