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Basil & Nigel's Big Day Out & How to Slim Down the Siblings

Basil & Nigel are very lucky. Not only was I willing to go to bat for them, but TWO groups; the Siamese Cat Rescue Center and the Humane Society of Forsyth County both stepped forward to offer the boys a safe place to live until they find their forever home. Thank you, again to HSFC for taking them on!

Before the boys could go anywhere their first stop was East Lake Vet for a checkup! There the Vet would do a snap test-a simple blood test that indicates if the cats have Feline Leukemia or FIV+. This is the WORST part of doing rescue-not the late nights, phone calls, millions of emails...waiting to find out if the snap test results are positive is dreadful. If the boys were sick, very few rescues would take them and their future happiness would be in peril.

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©2011 Maria S. Nigel waits to meet the Vet.

This afternoon, while I was waiting for a call from Bobby, I got an email. Maria surprised me with photos of the boys. Apparently she was in the area when Bobby brought the boys to the Vet so she stopped by. The subject line of her email was: “neg/neg” I know what that means! The boys are NOT SICK! WOOOOOOHOOOO!

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©2011 Maria S. Nigel explores the exam room.

More details about them came in: 1) Overall they're quite healthy! 2) Nigel weighs 27 1/2 pounds, while shy-guy Basil weighs 21 1/2 pounds, 3) they didn't have any sign of fleas or flea dirt, so they must have been indoors, 4) Poor Nigel's belly is burned. It appears both cats must have been confined to a VERY SMALL area. Possibly Nigel had to lay on bedding that was soaked in urine for a long time.

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©2011 Maria S. What a face! Hi Nigel!

In a way, I'm glad we will never really know what happened to Nigel because it would kill me to find out. Nigel is a big love bug and even tried to jump onto the exam table, but because he's so big, he didn't make it and fell backwards. He wasn't hurt, but it's so sad he's trapped in that big body. It's only temporary, but still, it's brutal to see a beautiful animal suffering like that. It's just wrong.

©2011 Maria S. Nigel has dreamy blue eyes!

We wonder if the boys might be Burmese/Siamese mixes due to their dark coloring. I'm not well versed in what makes a siamese. Maybe one of you might help us figure that out? Bobby told me their eyes are a very beautiful blue and that they're both good cats.

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©2011 Maria S. Basil is trying to look tiny. No one notice him!

Basil is shy. We don't know if he was always like this or it was due to cruel treatment. Fortunately he is NOT aggressive, just a scaredy-cat. He didn't make a fuss when he was examined. I think he just wanted to get out of there an into a small dark place...okay a big dark place, to hide.

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©2011 Maria S. Basil is a cutie!

Later in the day, I got a few emails from Bobbie, who has graciously offered to foster the cats for the next 10 days or so. Bobbie said that Nigel was enjoying himself, but that Basil was hiding in the cat tree (which is not really bad since he wasn't hiding under a bed and was up high so he will be less stressed). That Basil wasn't eating their new grain-free canned food, to which I was not surprised to hear. Transitioning the cats to high quality canned food will be tough. Nigel DID eat, but wanted to eat alot more than he should, so Bobbie took it away and went back to letting them get used to their new home.

©2011 Maria S. Poor Nigel. His belly wasn't too bad. He'll just need to be wiped down with an antibiotic wipe every day until he heals.

Most people know that you can't put a cat on a diet. Their metabolism is very different from that of a human. Cats get energy from protein, not carbs, as we do. They also can develop “fatty liver” or hepatic lipidosis if you try to get them to lose weight too fast. HL is deadly and NOT to be messed with.

©2011 Bobbie Coker. Apparently Nigel enjoys his new foster home with Bobbie very much!

I did some research and found some helpful tools that I could use to determine what these cats need for calories. Sadly, most cat food can labels do not list carbs or calories so you have to do the dreaded “M” word...MATH! This is a starting point. I realize I need to write a lot more about nutrition and feeding guidelines, but that will have to wait. For now, give this a try...

Also, from what I can tell, THIS IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE and every cat has different requirements for caloric intake so you MUST keep that in mind.

To start, you have to know how much your cat weighs, then convert pounds into KG. You can do that HERE

Next you have to use a Enteral Nutrition Calculator (ACK!) to figure out how many calories your cat needs. Based on Basil's weight-we'll call it 21 pounds. He would be 9.52 kg and his BER (basal energy requirement) is 355.59 kcal/day. That would be to MAINTAIN the weight he is now. The rest of the calculator is for sick cats or cats that need extra caloric intake. You probably don't need to use that, but I used this to find out that I am grossly under-feeding Bob, which is probably why he's a bag of bones right now. I've already started him on a different feeding regime to help him out.

©2011 Bobbie Coker. We hope you'll come out soon to visit, Basil!

The last step is to grab a can of whatever you're feeding your cat and READ THE LABEL. This Cat Food Nutrition Calculator from the Cornell Book of Cats is a start, but I discovered that it gave me one number and I saw a calorie listing on the cat food that said it had 40 more calories than the calculator determined! You can see why this is not an exact science!

Going by what it says on the label, fill in the percentages in the yellowed out area of the form. You'll copy the following information from the label: percent of Protein, Fat, Fiber, Moisture & Ash/Other Minerals. Once you do that, it will calculate how many calories are in every 100g of food.

The labels I checked show the gram weight of the food on the front, under the Net Weight. So for example, one can was 156 g in weight (a typical 5.5 oz “tuna can” size) and 106 calories per 100 g of food. That's roughly 165 calories per can. What shocked me was the HUGE difference from one brand of food to another. The one I thought was very high in calories was actually quite low!

Once you compare what your cat needs versus what it's eating, you'll see why you might have a tubby tabby on your hands. Now that we know the numbers, we can adjust Basil and Nigel's intake accordingly, but first things first...they need to settle down and get used to eating different food. Breaking them off the habit of eating dry will be tough, but in time they will adjust, especially since they don't have a phone and can't order a pizza behind our backs!

Lastly, we're still trying to fund our ChipIn for the boys. It's not a lot, but their food is costly and the Vet bill was rather big. If you can donate the cost of a cup of coffee to the boys, that would be great! If you can do more, even better. In a way, we all helped save the lives of Nigel and Basil because I couldn't help them, if you didn't help us with donations, so great work, TEAM CiCH!


From the looks of them, They're WAY too dark to be a Siamese. Considering their facial coloring and the shape, they might be tonkinese. Not totally certain though.

I might have some insight into why the boys have such dark fur even though they're supposed to be Siamese.

It's pretty common for obese Siamese cats to develop dark coloring on their back and torso. The reason for this, apparently, is that the gene that causes Siamese cats to have dark "points" on the ears, tail and feet is dependent on the temperature of the skin. The ears, face, tail and feet are cooler than the rest of the body and therefore develop dark fur. Presumably when a Siamese cat gains weight, the skin on the torso becomes cooler, too, and results in the darkening of the fur.

I've seen it happen with my mother's cat, a Siamese she rescued several years ago. When said kitty came into my mom's life, she was a standard-looking seal-point Siamese with a light-colored body. But she's -- er -- gained a few pounds ... and now the fur on her body is getting darker, too.

So the boys' natural fur color might begin to reappear as they lose weight.

That's fascinating! Thank you for letting us know!

Great news all around! Another thing that can make their coloring dark is that they are overweight. Pointed cats 'points' are dark because the ears/face/legs/tail are the coolest parts of the body (even a cat that is shaved, like for a spay will grow in dark fur, which when it sheds out will be paler again) and with a layer of fat, the skin is cooler so the coloring will darken.

I use both those calculators and they are great, especially to help decipher what's on the label of cat food. And the enteral feeding guide is similar to one we use at the cat hospital where I work and I'm glad it helped you with Bob, too. A good rule of thumb for healthy weight loss is 4 ounces a month, so we know the boys have a long road ahead of them but as we know, a journey starts with one step.

And for weight loss, here is a good calculator, too. My Disco, who started out at 16# and who still needs to lose 3#, was calculated to need about 215k/cal a day, where if I had followed the label recommendations, he would have been eating around 325 k/cal...and I should be exercising him 15 minutes twice a day (stairclimbing, hahameow) but I am bad about that, which is why he's been stuck at 15# for so long...

Here is the way my vet calculated his calorie needs based on a target weight of 12# and then subtracting 15% due to his inactive 'lifestyle'.

Anyway, kudos on a great, informative post and I look forward to meeting you at BlogPaws! Oh, and I donated 2 cups of Starbucks to the boys fund...

Thank you for your helpful comments and info. See you in a few days at BP!

From the photos I can see that these are the old applehead type siamese and are not the typey skiiny ones of today. The breeding of these guys isn't the best and that would be partly why they are so dark but also Siamese darken with age. My old girl Punkin was almost all deep brown when she went to the bridge and she was the applehead type and I love them.

Robin - thank you for posting the calorie calculators. I looked on the EVO cans and they have the calories listed! Now I just have to figure out how much in volume to feed each one to get them into "fighting weight".

I think about minus ten pounds from now we will have a better idea exactly "what" the boys are.

Peace, Plenty and Purrs,
Memory and the cats

Yes..EVO had calories..but here's the kicker. According to the calculator from Cornell, they net out at about 165 instead of over 210, which is what was on the label. This is why it's so tough to figure out how much, etc!!! Good luck with your guys!

I'm always concerned about how much I'm feeding my kitties, so this helps a lot. :)
And I've donated a few dollars towards these two. What big handsome fellows they are!

Our Mommeh has a baby scale and weighs us both about once a month. She thinks it is good to be able to catch changes in weight (up or down) early.

When I first saw the pictures of the boys I thought they looked somewhat Burmese. I have a champagne Burmese... 10 pounds with green/golden eyes. After reading the other comments here though, perhaps they are Siamese. Regardless, on behalf of my beloved Burmese I will certainly donate to help those handsome boys.

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