Friday, July 19, 2013

Cat v. human psychology

I’m starving my cats.

Not to kill them, you understand.  I’m just making a point.

Sometimes you have to hang tough with the kitties.  If you let them rule the roost, well then, there you are with the chickens.

Pardon my barnyard logic but I’ve pretty well had it with these two telling me when to go the store and what to buy.  I am the adult human here!  I will assert my authority.

It all began when they were tiny, fuzzy babies.  I went through an extensive process to find the perfect wet food for my precious, but persnickety companions.  It involved sampling, observation, label saving, note taking and cataloging all the brands and varieties they rejected out of paw. 

I had begun to despair when, at last!  “I (Heart) My Cat!”  – Yes, that’s the real name – met their high epicurean standards.  We had a winner. 

I relaxed and bought it by the case.  These fine felines snarfed it up and life was very good indeed.

But one day, one fateful day, my male kitty, I’ll call him “Frick,” left some tidbits in his dish.  Then he hovered over it and worked carefully around the edges, scraping the floor as though to cover it.  Ignorant, I laughed. 

Oh look, I said to my unsuspecting self, Frick is hiding his leftovers from the hyenas and jackals.  Hahaha!  These kitties are so much fun!  I just love watching them behave like miniature versions of big cats in the wild!

Next day, his buddy, little Frack, did the same thing, methodically scraping imaginary brush over the carcass of I (Heart) My Cat shredded chicken morsels. 

Within a few days, Frick and Frack were asking for lunch then turning from their bowls after a quick sniff, as though repulsed by the high-end meal I’d laid out for them.

Ack!  I thought.  Oh no!  Whatever will I do? 

At mealtime, my beloved Flotsam and Jetsam wound themselves around my ankles, particularly on the staircase, ostensibly showing affection, but not-so-subtly reminding me that they would commit the perfect crime if I didn’t find the perfect food for them, again, soon.

My husband was unmoved.  He reminded me of how he quit climbing trees, after the first two, to save little Jetsam from the heights.  “She’ll come down eventually,” he said.  “You never see cat skeletons up in trees, do you?”

“Put their food down.  When they’re hungry, they’ll eat!”

It reminded me of the time our son was about ten.  He’d persuaded us to add a pet rat to our menagerie, which at the time consisted of only a dog, two cats, a turtle and 10 goldfish.
All the adages about kids learning responsibility with pets swam in the murk with the turtle and the fish.  It was on me, of course, to tend to them all.  To my surprise, I even learned to love the rat.

And that rat lived a long, long time.  A long time.  He grew to be an elderly rat.  Splinter. 

Then one evening, finding Splinter hungry and unfed again, I told the kid he also would have to go without dinner. 

Not to kill him.  Just to make a point.

It didn’t work with him either, though we got a chuckle that evening on hearing our only son moaning behind his bedroom door, identifying with Splinter at last, “Just one little crumb…!”

But my furry Leopold and Loeb are unmoved by psychology.  They have a serenity about them.  A certain calm that comes from the confidence of knowing they’ve already won.  “Only he who struggles, loses,” they seem to be saying with their clear gaze.  “We can wait.”

It’s unnerving.  I don’t think I can take much more of it.  The passivity.  The nonchalance.  Aren’t they hungry, for God’s sake?!?

Of course they are.  I found myself scanning the documentation of our first foray into the realm of kitty cuisine.  What had they spurned and what was left to explore?    

Now at the pet food store, seeking samples whose labels they wouldn’t recognize.  Two of each in case the first taste extends to a second helping.

Arms laden, I head home, anxious, hopeful. 

Here kitties!  Mmmm!  Try this!  Here you go! 

At least I made my point.