Friday 21 October 2016

The next health crisis: fat cats (and the risk of being eaten by one)

Published 18/01/2016 | 02:30

Long distance runner Jerry Kiernan Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Long distance runner Jerry Kiernan Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The cats are getting bigger. There's no doubt about that. If this keeps on going we'll have lions terrorising Ireland, or cousins of lions. It might be good for tourism. American dentists will be coming in droves to fill the Irish big cats with lead.

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But this is not a hunting piece. Irish people are getting bigger. And the cats will soon be eating people for dinner, it being a well known fact that cats are deadly hunters. The cats will probably have a bit of fun first. They usually fool around with mice for a while before they kill them.

There's this mauve cat and he walks around the perimeter of our garden like he owns the place. The first time I saw him didn't I think he was after escaping from Duffy's Circus.

He's as fat as a man who tests oven chips in an oven chip factory. I'd love to shoot him, get him stuffed and put him up on our wall as a trophy.

Although I'm not too sure I'll be allowed by The Powers That Be in our house. It will only happen if the cat matches the wall. My friend bought a very good painting one time and he had to take it back as The Powers That Be said it didn't match the decor of his house. We had a few glasses of wine at the launch of the art exhibition and I persuaded him to buy the painting of the naked woman.

Maybe that was why his partner wouldn't allow the painting on her wall.

I can see lots of men buying in mauve cats to keep The Powers That Be indoors.

As we were saying, Irish people are getting bigger. I can't ever remember being hungry as a kid. But the young lads now are twice as big as their dads.

Even 12-year-olds are bigger than their dads. Gone are the days when the father says "go on up to bed" to their young lad or "will you ever turn that thing off and do your homework."

The young lads would be well capable of batin' the living sh**te out of their oul fellas. Maybe dads could keep a big cat in the house to maintain order.

I'll never forgive my own father for not beating me. Nearly all the great Irish writers had horrible dads and were always going on about their terrible upbringings. I was far too happy as a child. We wandered around all day long and only came home at mealtimes in the summer.

My favourite dinner was pandy with mushroom soup. The soup came out of a packet. I'm not sure if it was full of sugar or not but back then you couldn't fatten me. We played football all day and were reared free range, like the chickens. There were no drives to school as my dad didn't get a car until I was about 10.

Jerry Kiernan, who was ninth in the Olympic marathon, was a near neighbour. He's a coach now and his dietary advice is to eat meat, potatoes and vegetables with a few drinks every now and then, in moderation.

Now the young lads tower over us. It could be because of all the secret sugar in the food. There was a TV programme on the other night and it seems sugar is everywhere.

The first I found out about all the sugar in soft drinks was when I was waiting in a surgery and the sign in front of me told me there were 12 spoons of sugar in every bottle of my favourite pop. I had to get it out of the pub because I was doing four bottles a day - or 50 spoons of sugar - but most of the kids I know aren't obese, just tall and strong-looking.

It was only lately it dawned on me that I was smoking 20 a day when I was six. We lived over the pub and I'm sure some of the smoke was finding its way upstairs. Then we'd pass through our bar a hundred times a day, but that was all long before the dangers of passive smoking were discovered. I'd have won six or seven All-Irelands for Kerry if it wasn't for smoking so much.

Everything we eat seems to be either carcinogenic or sugary. It will be interesting to see how we respond to all the bad news on food. There may well be a huge threat to farming, and the safe levels for drinking are dropping.

I like the advice given by Dr Maurice Neligan, who was a famous heart surgeon in his day. He was in favour of moderation and there's sense in that.

But the big cats aren't moderate. Cats eat much the same food as we do. Just check out the tins. Rabbit and chicken is one cat dish I spotted lately. So I purchased a tin for the purrpose of this article. Note to editor, please do not change purrpose. The word is misspelt deliberately, which is our way of introducing a catastrophic pun and making people sit up and take notice before the days come when we are dismembered by pusheens and bossed around by giant children.

So I tasted the cat food. It was a bit like a terrine. So there's a fast food idea for a Michelin restaurant. I can see the menu. Terrine of wild rabbit in a chicken roulade. Just empty the cat food onto plate with a few leaves and those small tomatoes the size of cats' eyes and wrap the chicken around the rabbit.

It's no more of a con job than sneaking sugar into our kids' food. But you'd hate to see all sweets banned. I'm sure there's no harm in the occasional bar of chocolate.

There was no bringing cats to the vets until relatively recent times. The cow was king - or rather queen. Only in India is the cow more venerated than in North Kerry.

But to come back to the question of how it is our kids are bigger and stronger. It may well be down to a good reason.

The doctor told me it is because of a reduction in childhood illnesses due to better medical care and better medicine. And that's not such a bad thing, now, is it?

But diet is a huge factor - and so now it is important we watch what our kids, and our cats, eat.

Irish Independent

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