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Coming around to the realization that kittens have grown [For Better or Worse]

Living with someone, you don't notice the subtle changes taking place right before your eyes — like when my toddlers became smart-mouthed teenagers overnight, or our kittens suddenly grew into sumo wrestler-size cats.

One or two readers may not have met Sugar Pie ("The Pie"), a calico tabby, and Cocoa Chanel ("Cocoa Bean" or "The Bean"), a "tortie."

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Nine weeks old when we adopted the littermates, Sugar Pie and Cocoa recently turned 1. I should have realized how much they'd grown when the birthday hat I tried to put on Cocoa wouldn't fit over her enormous, football-sized head.

Forever inseparable, they still sleep curled up together, just like they did as kittens. Only now, one entire side of my bed dips lower than the other beneath their considerable bulk.

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If I give one a treat for being adorable (because cats don't fetch), the other comes running as though I'd rung a chuck-wagon bell. That's even when I twy to be vewy, vewy qwiet.

I know. They aren't kittens anymore. They're full-grown cats. Why else would it take a crane to get one off my desk so I can see the computer screen? (When they sit around the computer, they sit around the computer.)

That fact really hit home when my daughter, Heather, came to visit. Not having seen the cats for a few months, she was shocked at how much they'd grown. Her jaw dropped and her eyes widened to the size of personal pan pizzas. "Dang!" she exclaimed. "Those are some FAT CATS!"

It's not my fault the cats' favorite time of day is any time we feed them.

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As kittens, they would climb up my legs — pajama pants, jeans, or shorts (Owww.) — trying to reach the food before I'd finished doling it out. In hindsight, that should have been a clue that we had a "growing" problem on my hands.

As I carried their bowls to placement on the floor, they'd run alongside me, weaving in and out between my legs, jumping, spinning, trying to trip me so they could inherit my estate (six guitars and a complete set of junior encyclopedias), all while crying "Mew! Mew! Mew!" in unison until the instant their faces hit the food.

Delirious at the prospect of reconstituted tuna in glue gravy, their "mews" reached pitches barely within the range of human hearing. I'm pretty sure some of their frantic "We're starving!" squeaks could only be heard by dogs.

We've taken stock of our stocky cats and accept the fact that they're a smidge plump, a tad tubby. If they wore clothes, we'd buy them in the "Husky" department. They're generously proportioned, with itty-bitty-kitty love handles. They will surely become corpulent cats if Mommy doesn't stop giving treats.

Maybe having sweet, food-related names contributed to their bulk. They haven't reached the point of "so fat, we posted their pictures online" yet; but Doug thinks he got a hernia from picking up Sugar Pie.

When either cat decides to lie down by the hearth, you can hear the thump of a cat hitting a rug two rooms away. During Sugar Pie's habitual 3 a.m. walk on my chest, I dream I'm being crushed beneath a truck. If I open the cupboard to get the peanut butter, they stampede into the kitchen in joyful anticipation, only to be crestfallen when they discover it's not dinner time yet.

Time for diet cat food, I guess. At least we have no worries about them not liking it — as fast as they gobble up meals, they probably won't even taste it.

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