Feline Weight Watchers: An Ounce of Prevention For a Pound of Cure

by Lee Chambers

Team members (from left) Wendy Poudrier, Patrick Bukowski, Paula Delskey and Celeste Nai


Dora, a gorgeous 11 year old tortoiseshell cat, came to Dakin earlier this year when her person passed away. She was scared and depressed by the loss of her companion and familiar environment until she met Dakin's Feline Weight Watchers team. 

Raised since birth by her person, Dora’s grief overtook her. Imagine how bewildered she must have been to have gone from sharing her home with her person and companion kitties to being in a strange setting with people she didn’t know.  The loss of her beloved caretaker hit Dora so hard that eating no longer interested her.

Upon arrival, she found a spot up high on a perch in a colony room where she fearfully kept to herself and avoided everyone. Dakin’s Feline Weight Watcher (FWW) team offered her low-stress weigh-ins and enrichment to lift her spirits.  Eventually Dora began to descend from her “safe place” for visits and interaction with volunteers and staff.  Soon she felt brave enough to venture down to mingle with an adoptive family whose 8 year old fell in love with her, so Dora has found her new home thanks to you, and our incredible FWW team!

Your support of Dakin saves lives through a variety of programs created to help pets thrive. FWW is one of the newest and it was launched last fall to help at-risk cats with eating issues become happy and healthy.

On Mondays and Thursdays, two different teams of dedicated volunteers visit our felines who have been identified by the veterinarian staff as problem eaters; either they’re not eating at all (or very little) and are at risk of liver failure (like Dora), or they arrived at Dakin quite overweight and need to stop gaining weight. The FWW team then makes the rounds, coaxing sometimes resistant kitties onto the scales so their weight can be tracked and monitored. 

Usually a laundry basket is placed atop the scale to help them contain an unwilling cat for the quick moment needed to capture that number. According to team member Patrick Bukowski, “We use treats to lure them.”  Paula Delskey, who works with Patrick, says with a laugh, “When we put treats on the scale, the chunky ones will stay on it long after the goodies are gone!”

In addition to providing vital data about these kitties that helps our vet staff monitor health benchmarks, the FWW workers also give their charges a lot of enrichment, and that interaction literally saves lives.

Each FWW volunteer can tell you about special kitties who tugged at their heartstrings and benefitted from their care. Wendy Poudrier remembers Tulip, “who went from being a cat you just couldn’t touch to being a very loving cat who you could pet.  She was adopted within a couple of weeks, which shocked everyone!”

Celeste Nai, who is part of the Thursday team, embraces her duties. “It’s therapeutic for me.  I love these cats and their personalities.”  For Patrick, the transformation inspires him.  “I love when a non-responsive cat starts to come around.”  Paula recalls a recent situation involving new arrivals who had multiple tooth extractions and weren’t eating.  “I mixed food with warm water and they finally started to eat.  That, for me, is amazing, when they get well and become adopted.  Plus it prevents me from taking them home!”

Your commitment to the animals at Dakin allows each cat to receive the specialized attention they need, whether that be health problems or behavioral challenges, and find their way to a new home. Thank you!

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