When JJ, my $3,000 street rescue, took me hostage in 2005 she was possibly six months old and pregnant. After she had her litter of five, I began feeding her tiny cans of Fancy Feast because those hungry little fiends were sucking the calories out of her as fast as she could inhale them. If either my partner or I moved in the general direction of the kitchen, a gray blur would whip past us and if we actually went into the kitchen we would find Miss JJ on the counter on her hind legs with her front paws on the cupboard door.
I told the veterinarian about this and she chuckled. “That stuff is kitty crack.”
Weaning the kittens was a walk in the park compared to getting JJ off the counter. Eventually, she calmed down and resigned herself to the dry kibble she and her roomie, Alice, had as their regular diet.
I know. I know I’m supposed to be feeding my cats wet food. Preferably something that’s mostly meat with little to no grain additives. I’ve read all the articles and been lectured at by experts including my vet. But I absolutely cannot tolerate the general insanity that opening a can of wet cat food engenders in any cat.
Nope. Not doing it. I did it for the six weeks the kittens were nursing and we’re done, thanks.
We always had cats and dogs when I was growing up. And in all those years of all those animals, my Mom always and only fed them all (dogs, cats, and toddlers alike) Purina cat chow. And, yes my little sisters loved the stuff.
Even my old girl, Puss, the kitten I stole from a drunken house party in the latter part of the last century, ate nothing but dry kibble for most of her 22 years. In her last months, however, I began feeding her canned tuna. She turned her nose up at wet cat food but she liked tuna.
Years passed and the girls got rounder and rounder. I’d take them in for routine check-ups and the vet would shake her head.
That began our quest to limit their food. To establish mealtimes, to get their weight down. Trying to control feeding times and amounts for two cats was ridiculous. We did the best we could and hoped something would work. Then Alice passed away three years ago and I thought that might simplify things. Yeah, right.
The vet shook her head and chucked JJ under her chin about a year ago.
“She’s up a quarter of a pound from her last visit. 16 pounds is just too heavy for such a little girl.”
Back to the drawing board. Switching brands, limiting portions, limiting daily amounts allowed, buying catnip toys as a bribe, games with the laser pointer that bored her after the first ten minutes. One thing that did improve slightly after JJ became The Only Cat Standing was that she didn’t vomit as often. When there were two cats, both would bail into their food as if it was the only food left on the planet and if they didn’t eat it quickly enough the other would get it. And then they’d vomit.
Even without competition, JJ would gobble down her twenty pieces of kibble when we’d feed her and then would still occasionally toss it back onto the floor. Just not as often. Charming.
AleXander (who doesn’t understand why people allow animals indoors) often took it upon himself to make sure JJ only got the allowed amount at the allowed times. It became this insane dance where any movement at all in the apartment invited a meowing cat to entwine herself underfoot. And we have danced this dance for many a year.
Then came the virus
I’ve been unemployed since October and so we’ve been home together a lot but it wasn’t until our current Please-Stay-Home-We-Beg-You-And-Wash-Your-Hands-Again situation that the whole feeding thing became completely intolerable.
It’s one thing to manage a cranky, vocal, demanding feline day in and day out when it’s still possible to leave home. No more.
Last week we broke. JJ won.
Now her bowl never gets left empty. There’s always as much dry (low carb, high protein) food as she wants when she wants it. And suddenly we have this lovely, laid back, content pussy cat who has only yakked up her dinner once all week. She watches us walk to the kitchen (if she’s awake which is only about four non-consecutive hours daily) and moves not one muscle. She saunters on over to her bowl when she feels like it, has a few bites and moves on back to one of her spots for some shut-eye.
Please don’t offer any helpful tips on how to improve this situation. JJ is 16 years old and we’re all stuck in this 500 square foot apartment together for many weeks to come. If we all eat ourselves into diabetic comas, well, there are clearly worse fates.
Now, at least, she’ll die a natural death and not risk being thrown out the fifth-floor window (kidding!).
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