Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Opinion

April 12, 2014

Meal time for kitties can be an adventure

Athens — I believe God gave us housecats because we didn’t have enough to worry about. They are puzzling little puffs of fur that seem to be constantly developing new sets of peculiarities.

Our black and white cat, Lonzo, has been a bit of a drama queen lately. A few weeks ago, we noticed that he was getting extremely skinny, while constantly admiring the bag of food we feed to the outdoor cats.

Now realize, every morning, Lonzo and his brother Oscar would meet me at the bedroom door and race to the middle bedroom where I keep their food, water and other essentials. So, silly me, I assumed Lonzo was eating his breakfast, just like he has for the seven years he’s been a part of the Flowers clan.

And I’m not feeding them the cheep stuff. No, that would be too easy on the pocket book. A couple of years ago, we noticed that Oscar was scratching himself excessively and seemed to be losing hair. We took him to the Morton clinic and learned that there could be any one of a million reasons causing the big  orange kitty’s problems.

They suggested we try changing his diet, to see if he had an allergy to his food. Sure enough, Oscar got fluffy again and seemed to like the new food just fine. If Lonzo didn’t like it, he didn’t say anything, so we kept bringing home the special, grain free, food.

Lonzo, has always been a bit of a mooch, who thinks you should share anything you’re eating with him. We usually don’t like to encourage that behavior, other than to let him lick the last of the Yoplait from the container, or lap up the last couple of drops of milk in our cereal.

When Lonzo began to become a total pest, trying to get at whatever we were eating, we would scold him and send him on his way. Then one day, my wife Debra wondered if he was eating his food.

When the pet store ran out of our regular brand, at the recommendation of one of the salesmen, bought a bag of sweet potato based food. The race to the food bowl continued as usual, so I figured everything was OK. Then one morning I stayed around to see if Lonzo was actually eating it. He just sniffed it and like Morris the cat in his heyday, turned up his nose and strutted away.

We’d seen Lonzo do this once before, when Debra brought home Yoplait light, instead of the regular stuff. I was OK with it, but when I’d finished the container and held it for Lonzie to finish, he took one sniff, gave me a disgusted look, and strolled away.

That was all the convincing I needed, far be it for me to cut back on sugar by depriving my cat of his favorite treat. I went back to the good stuff.

Oscar, is exactly the opposite. He couldn’t care less about people food. As long as you’re constantly petting him, never put you laptop or Kindle in your lap, of try to read a book or a magazine when you should be petting him, never pet him incorrectly, never change your recliner from the proper angle, or fail to cover up with his favorite comforter, he’s pretty OK.

So, when we made the move to the healthy cat food a couple of years ago, he never batted an eye, and within a couple of weeks started looking fluffier than he ever had.

Lonzo seemed to be contented as well until the recent troubles we now attribute to the sweet potato food.

Since we discovered that Lonzo was starving himself, we’ve had to adopt a new feeding routing. First, I go to the middle bed room, pour fresh water and high $$$$ catfood into the bowl, watch as Oscar begins eating and Lonzo turns up his nose and strolls back to the living room.

In the living room, we now have a paper plate in which we pour a small amount of the cheap (Deli Cat) food. Lonzo will stop whining and start gobbling. Soon Oscar will appear and try to eat some of Lonzo’s food, so we have to shoo him off. When Lonzo is finished, we pour what he didn’t eat back into the container to keep Oscar from getting it.

Oscar, after watching this ritual for a few days, now just sits there while Lonzo eats, hoping we’ll go away so he can have some of this wonderful food we won’t let him have because of his allergies. He looks at us with his big eyes as if to ask what he had done to be relegated to second class cat status while his evil brother gets special treatment.

Debra says, this mealtime routine has to stop, we’ve got to get them to agree on one kind of catfood and go back to eating it in the designated room. But anyone who has a cat knows how easy it is to get them to unlearn a bad habit - or pick up a good one, for that matter.

Recently, Debra went to the pet store and found a new, salmon based catfood that we hope will hold to key to re-habbing Lonzo from his Deli Cat addiction.

I suggested that we fill Lonzo’s container with the new food and pour it into his paper plate for a few days, let him get used to it, then move the plate from the living room back to the cat’s room. I don’t think we can fool Lonzo into thinking he’s eating Deli Cat, but maybe he’ll like the new stuff and be glad it’s not the sweet potato brand.

If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re not exactly newcomers when it comes to confronting cat behavioral problems. In fact, this one is pretty minor, compared to Rhett who used to climb across me every morning at 5 a.m. and steal my car keys from the night stand, or Tigger, who would climb up on the roof and cry until I brought a box for him to jump into.

We’ve dealt with cats for so long,, I think we’d like to tackle something easier — like world peace.

Rich Flowers is news editor for the Athens Review.

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