Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Just as parents often have to say no to their children when they want things that aren’t good for them, so too do responsible pet owners. Children and pets are not always able to discern danger or consequences, and it’s our job to keep them healthy and safe. I don’t especially like saying no to my cats when they want something I know they shouldn’t have (such as more food or treats when they’ve already had plenty) but as a responsible pet owner I know I need to. Knowing it is one thing; actually doing it can require nerves of steel and an unwavering conviction that I am right, and the cats are wrong. Anyone who has a “foodie” pet knows exactly what I mean.
Our pets beg with insistent meows and loud barks. They look at us with pleading eyes that make us think they will just keel over unless they get more food or treats. They try to “guilt” us into caving in, because they want what they want, and have no thought other than getting it. Pets live in the moment; there is no rationalization we can give them for saying no. We just have to, because we know what’s best for them, and because we love them.
Therein lies the problem many pet owners face when it comes to rationing treats. We sometimes equate giving them the treats with love. It’s hard not to, because most pets love their treats like nobody’s business. There’s a lot of satisfied purring and excited prancing when my cats get their FELIDAE TidNips™ treats. It’s quite clear they relish these treats and would scarf down entire bagfuls at a time if I let them. How can you say no to that kind of enthusiasm? It’s quite difficult, and I admit that sometimes I falter. I try to rationalize with thoughts like, “Oh gosh, it makes them so happy!” or “Giving them treats lets them know I love them.”
But as a responsible pet owner, sometimes no is the only acceptable answer. Rather than overfeeding my cats under the guise of “love” and wanting to make them happy, saying no to them actually means “I love you, therefore I am denying your request.” When they beg for more treats or more food, and I know they’ve had enough for today, then saying no means I love them enough to do what's right for them to be healthy.
I don’t mean to suggest that giving your pet treats is wrong. Far from it! Premium quality treats like those made by CANIDAE Natural Pet Foods can certainly be part of a healthy pet’s diet. The key is moderation, and factoring in the calories to guard against overfeeding and weight gain. A fat pet is not healthy or happy! Unfortunately, our pets will continue to beg for treats long after we know they’ve had enough. They therefore require us, their responsible pet parents, to put down the treats and walk away.
Oh sure, they will probably follow you out of the kitchen with a demeanor that clearly says, “Hey! Where are you going? I want more treats!” To which you can pat them gently on the head and tell them “I love you. You’ll get more treats tomorrow.” They may not understand this kind of tough love, but their bodies will thank you. And tomorrow, you can do the whole “treat dance” over again!
"Begging Cat" photo by Odd Bod
Read more articles by Julia Williams