My copy cat


As if we didn’t have enough to feel guilty about as human beings. Not only do we have global warming and overflowing landfills on our collective consciences, but now, a recent study from the University of Messina contends that if our cats have put on a few pounds over the years, it’s because they are copying the behavior of their owners –– us. The study implies that looking at Fluffy is like glancing into a mirror as we are actually seeing a reflection of ourselves –– specifically our eating habits and our daily routines. Bottom line: If our feline is overweight, we should be looking at our own shortcomings and reasons for also plumping up. When we’re bad, so are they, says the study. When we eat a late-night bowl of ice cream, our kitty companion is usually at our side ready and willing to share in the guilt  –– and in the bowl of rocky road.  

This study really isn’t that shocking because, yes – my cat Pepper does follow my every move and mimics my routine to some extent when I am home. If I’m in the kitchen, she’s ready and waiting for crumbs to fall to the floor. If I’m watching TV, she will settle in right next to me. If I’m cleaning, she’s running from room to room to watch the vacuum cleaner from afar. 

But here’s what does bother me about this study. My Pepper isn’t exactly what I’d call a sleek and slender kitty. Not even what I’d call a cat of normal weight. In fact, she is probably beyond what is considered healthy for a cat. I catch myself telling visitors commenting on her size that she just has a lot of fur, or that she's "big boned".

And she is sneaky. If I’m not watching her every move, Pepper will eat her food, the dog’s food (when I forget to put his bowl away), and then look for any leftovers one of us may have left behind –– and that’s all before I’ve finished my first cup of morning coffee! So while she does follow my routine somewhat, she also has an extraordinary appetite. Way more than my measly breakfast of yogurt and coffee.

I'm pretty sure my routine isn't putting the extra padding on Pepper. Her extreme appetite is. Anyway, according to another study, having extra weight around the middle is becoming the "new normal" for humans. And it turns out most don't consider themselves overweight. They're just big boned.  

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