I seem to think, if not write, about feeding the cats a great deal. I am always concerned that they are eating too little or too much, or that the food they are consuming isn’t healthy enough for them, or that they simply don’t like it.
My cats don’t have a lot in the way of hobbies. Collecting stamps is too expensive, star-gazing requires them to be outside and, though I’m sure they would enjoy reading, not being able to turn pages leaves them with little more to read than the titles on the spines of my books. Looking out the window, playing, sleeping and eating constitute not only the great majority of their lives, but also their pastimes. Therefore, I think it is nice if the cats eat their meals because they enjoy them, as much as like them. Tungsten and Renn figure in this aspect, as they have seldom eaten all of their soft food rations, and eat the hard food simply as a staple.
However, this sometimes conflicts with my concern about their health. Josie and Tucker are tubular cats, rounded and heavy. Tucker is gaining weight, while Josie, though losing some pounds, retains the shape of tinned ham, and from the back, when seated, looks like a heavy, white eggplant.
Recently, I have begun a process which I like to call ‘starvation’. Well, no, it’s not as bad as that, though it made the cats look up when I mentioned it. Hehe. Anyway… I have decided to make the hard-food bowl available to the cats only during certain times of the day. Tucker, for one, nibbles from it quite often. It’s a nervous habit with him, I think. He goes to eat two or three kernels of hard food whenever I make a point of kneeling beside him to rub his head or pet him. He purrs and definitely likes the attention - then heads over to the bowl. He does this at other times, too. That adds up.
The bowl will now be on the food mat throughout the night; I figure that the cats sleep through that period and it limits their eating. It will also be available through the day when I am at work, though I reduce the amount of food therein so that they run out during the day, hopefully. This will make them hungry for the soft food, which they need for moisture. (You see the cunningness of my plan…)
On days that I am home, I allow them to eat from the bowl for half an hour after I rise. The fact that the cats all seem to eat then confirms that they consumed little during the night. I put the bowl down again in the early afternoon, and again about six-thirty. Each time, I let each cat visit the bowl and have his or her fill, but only once. Then the bowl is hidden again. By dinner- and snack-times, with their portions of soft-food, the animals are ravenous. Well, peckish, at least.
At the same time, I have discovered a new flavour of Fancy Feast that all the cats seem to like. As with many cat-owners, I have tried numerous brands, varieties and flavours to find something that the cats looks forward to eating. Fancy Feast, though not the best of nutrition, is adequate. Recently, as I have written before, I have found that the chicken pate is favoured to a certain extent by all four of my furry roommates. I sometimes garnish it with trout flavour. I don’t use just trout because half the cats don’t eat it all; they lick the gravy off of it and leave the actual ‘meat’. As much as I like my cats, I can’t spend 50 to 74 cents (depending on where and when I buy it) a tin, just to give them a taste of gravy.
By accident, I purchased the cumbrously titled cod, sole and shrimp flavour, due to interpreting its shade of green label as that of the trout. Having opened the tin, I decided to give it to the animals as a test. To my surprise, all four liked it. Tungsten ate almost all her portion and Renn cleaned his plate, even eating a small second helping. A better test came when I served the refrigerated leftovers (warmed up) for snack-time. Again, the fussy two did very well, eating more than normal. Josie, who has been leaving some of her chicken, finished all of her fish ration, while Tucker… Well, Tucker would eat Velcro if it tasted good.
This may be the thrill of novelty. I will have to test the new flavour further. As well, cats do become bored with their routine meals after a time, so I will continue to have the chicken pate and trout handy, and once in a while will experiment with other flavours and brands, though this can become expensive if the results are negative.
I dislike seeing my cats waiting for the hard-food bowl. I want them always to enjoy themselves, and that includes eating. But sometimes a foot must be put down, for their own good. If my new plan works, perhaps I won’t have to write about the animals’ food habits again, at least for another month or two.