The Vine: June 18, 2010
I have a perfect birthday gift idea for my sister. At least, two-thirds of a perfect birthday gift. I'm hoping you or your readers can help me find the final third.
My sister loves gardens, and she also has three kids. I'd love to combine the two and give her plants that have names in common with her children. I've been able to find a flower with the same name as my niece (Miss Lucy oriental lily), and a vegetable with the same name as one nephew (Jacob's cattle beans). I'd love to find a plant that shares my other nephew's name — Samuel. Or Sam. Or James, his middle name, will do in a pinch.
It can be any sort of plant — flower, shrub, tree, vegetable — it doesn't matter. She lives in growing zone 5, but has enough of a green thumb that she could make most North American plants grow. I'm going to get each kid to decorate the pot for their own plant, so they can be indoor or outdoor plants.
I've searched quite a few online seed catalogs, and haven't found anything. Would you or any of your readers be able to help me find my elusive Sam plant?
Thanks for your help!
If my sister reads this, I'm the aunt of a different Lucy, Jacob, and Sam who live in zone 5…
Seeing all the "help me find this book" requests has inspired me to finally send in my own. I'm a librarian and usually pretty good about finding books from obscure clues, but all my Google search skills have failed me. I hope the talented Tomato Nation readers can help!
I'm trying to track down a couple of juvenile mystery books that I read in the early '80s. I don't think they were that old then, so they probably date from the '70s or later.
The first book was set in England. In it, several kids (siblings and/or friends) find a girl in a boat. The mystery revolves around who she is; she refuses to say, and seems to be hiding for some reason. I think she turns out to be wealthy when they finally find out her identity. The cover may have shown the back of a red-haired girl's head, but that could be a complete fabulation.
In the second book, the same kids take a trip to Scotland. In the course of solving the mystery, one of them winds up being trapped in the dungeon or oubliette of a Scottish castle. The cover may have featured a grassy hillside?
I don't particularly want to read these books again, but the fact that I can't find them is driving me crazy! I know I didn't make them up, but I can't find anything that matches. I've posted on BookSleuth, and nobody there had any suggestions, either.
I have a huge cat problem. By "huge" I mean a cat who keep gaining weight despite having been on a diet. My cat Boris is a real sweetheart of a kitty, but he's packed on the pounds the past couple of years. When we began seeing our current vet in 2008, he weighed 12.5 lbs. Not a small kitty, but not huge. The vet was very alarmed that in a year and a half he gained over 2 lbs. So she exhorted me to cut down on his dry food, and up his intake of wet food, believing that less carbs would result in some weight loss over time.
Well, I did everything the vet said. We cut down both cats' dry food (the girly cat also had somewhat of a portly figure, so I figured, why not?), and added some grain-free wet food to their diet. Everything is portioned out, so that they split half of a 5.5 oz can of food, and get about 1/3 of a cup of dry food. This is a far cry from their portions in the past (I've never free-fed them).
Both cats love their new food. But apparently Boris loves it a little too much. After 4 months of this diet, I found out that he gained a whopping 1.6 lbs. The vet nurse GASPED at that. Then she suggested we switch to all wet, or to a diet food for Boris (yeah right, as if he wouldn't go and eat the other cat's food in retaliation), and if that doesn't work, testing to rule out health issues (he appears in good health, but apparently stuff like a thyroid condition or diabetes in cats can often have no symptoms other than excessive weight gain or weight loss as a first stage).
We're going to try the changes the vet nurse suggested. We'll try all wet food first, and if that doesn't seem to work, we'll go with diet food (I am not enthused about that: most cat diet food is full of carbs…how could carbs help a cat lose weight?). But I'm really worried. I thought we were doing well, and initially, Boris had visibly lost some weight the first month in (he looked slightly leaner), but somehow that must have lulled me into a false sense of safety such that I didn't notice how he gained it all back and then some.
We decided to also make getting at food more work by setting meals out on top of a bookcase. Boris is not happy about it, but after 5 minutes of loud complaining, he does climb the bookcase (did I mention that cat loves food?).
I'm also going to try to structure more exercise in his day if it kills me: I used to play with the cats twice a day, but since becoming pregnant and starting a new job almost simultaneously a couple of months ago, I have been too fatigued to do it every day. I have asked my husband to do it, but since he already has to do litter all the time, he grumbles that he doesn't have the energy to do so either after a long day at work, and I've let it slide because he's already had to take over a lot of other household chores due my constant fatigue. I realize that we do have to work on that, so we've already had the talk (that this is a serious problem that we have to work as a team to tackle).
Honestly, I'd get a dog to chase him around the apartment if only we were not at our lease's limit insofar as domestic companions. Our other kitty is younger and was supposed to help in that respect, but as it turns out she's even lazier than he is, so when he does get exercise, it's of the chasing her, causing her to hide under the bed (which she knows will work because he's too fat to chase her under there), and Boris spending the next five minutes going "MOOOOOM! MOOOM! The other cat won't play with me! Make her come out of the bed!" variety.
I was wondering if your readers had any wisdom about managing one cat's weight in a multiple-cat household (Gracie, the other kitty, has definitely and visibly lost weight and is keeping it off, so I am not as worried about her). I'm really worried that this will start to affect Boris' health, and since he's the worst cat to pill, I do not want to have to manage a lifestyle illness for him down the line (I'm pretty sure hubby would be no help here…he loves our cats, but he hates pilling them even more than I do).
So what else has the TN readership tried aside from the aforementioned "more exercise built in, more low-cal food"? I'm really getting desperate here.
My Husband Thought The Weight Gain Was Funny, Until I Burst Into Tears About It
Little Joe has lost a goodly amount of weight since we moved into a house with a flight of stairs in it; I also changed their food to a super-fancy brand in which you can see the chunks of seafood and vegetables.
If you don't have the budget to buy real estate and/or food that's better than what you eat yourself — and I don't either, really, but here we all are, somehow — then you may take comfort from what my own vet told me a couple of years ago, when Joe bent the scales at over 18 pounds.
Dr. Tom reminded me that, despite millennia of living with humans and relying on them at least in part for food, cats' systems are designed for a feast-or-famine hunter lifestyle. It's why they do all that sleeping: either they're resting up for a burst of chasing, catching, mauling, and devouring; or they're digesting after a burst of chasing, catching et al. We human companions, in the process of assigning them various human qualities, also sometimes mistakenly assume that what works for upright omnivores like us — lower calorie intake; regular cardio — will be effective on the feline system.
And it's not totally useless, obvi, but it doesn't have the same results that it would with us. Boris is designed to 1) eat an elk in one sitting, and then 2) conserve that protein by napping in a sunbeam, regardless of his provenance as a domesticated animal who, if he's anything like Little Joe, couldn't catch a cab at a cab stand, much less a gazelle.
Try tweaking the food, for starters. Do you feed half a 5.5-oz can twice a day? That sounds like a lot; mine get a quarter of a can that size twice a day, and free-feed hairball-control kibble. You might try changing to a kibble with big chunky pieces, like Science Diet's hairball formula, that takes them longer to eat.
Observe how they eat for a few days — do they both wolf? Do they both graze? One of each? I couldn't do the "pick up the bowls after five minutes" thing with mine, because Hobey is a grazer, and only he ended up losing any weight. If Boris is a wolfer, cut his wet-food portion in half and feed him in another room, and see if that has any effect.
Not every cat puts on a ton of weight from free-fed kibble. A lot of cats do; with mine, that wasn't the issue. You may want to tweak the feeding regime from month to month and see what results you get. But the thing to keep in mind is that cats are built to conserve energy and meals for long stretches, so 1) restricting their food sometimes will make them eat more/faster, because their systems see it as future privation; and 2) it just takes a really long time for a cat diet to work. And "working" can mean a teeny victory like "0.8 pounds in a year." Been there.
But if Boris isn't super-lethargic or super-thirsty, you're probably okay. Keep an eye on it like you have been, and don't beat yourself up if he's not starlet-thin in three months.
Readers, anything to add?
Tags: Ask The Readers cats home 'n' garden popcult