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Cats, Chihuahuas, and Coffee Cans

*How does a barn cat help facilitate better feeding?

As I scanned the lounge room at Rockmeadow's Equestrian Center, looking for a vessel that might help visualize a pound of horse feed, the head trainer at the Rockmeadows Riding School chimed in, "I always figured that the average cat weighs four pounds, so a pound of feed is 1/4th of a cat!" Barrels of laughter immediately ensured, but once that quieted down, we did some Googling.Turns out that the average US cat weighs about 10 lbs, so myth debunked (See WebMD link HERE). Perhaps, like many things in our society (i.e. gas prices), the average cat size has more than doubled over three or four decades from when Shannon first made the connection between cats and horse feed. We did some more Googling and determined that Chihuahuas might be a more appropriate feed weight indicator since the average US Chihuahua weights about 3.3-6 pounds! For all intensive purposes, the school horses at Rockmeadows Riding Center will now be receiving 1 fourth of a Chihuahua for breakfast or a full Chihuahua for dinner.

This hilarious encounter is such a great example of the importance of actually weighing feed and supplement amounts with a real live scale- not a real, live cat, chihuahua, or heaven forbid the historical feed measuring tool of all feed measuring tools- the coffee can. Even though NO ONE gets their coffee in metal containers anymore, I still see old, beat up rusted coffee cans in feed rooms across the country. Some have been replaced by yogurt containers, kitchen measuring cups, and the variety of scoops that come from supplement containers. Very few feed rooms have a scale hanging from anywhere.

There are so many things about good nutrition and diet plans that are SUPER STUPID simple. One of them is having a cheap $12 digital fish scale somewhere in the feed room. I don't advocate for weighing every single meal, but every barn/horse owner should know these three things...

  1. The weight of your horse(s). Weight tapes online cost $7.

  2. The weight of an average flake of hay (will need to reweigh with each new load).

  3. And know what 1 lb of your horse feed looks like. You can mark it with a black sharpie on your yogurt container or ancient coffee can.

Rockmeadow Riding School now has a scale hanging from their feed room, but I hope that they continue to refer to each pound as 1/4th Chihuahua or 1/10th of a cat. To learn more about the Rockmeadow Riding Center in Sammamish, WA CLICK HERE.

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