Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thought for Food

My cats’ diet is a continuing source of worry for me. Perhaps I should say that it’s a ‘continuous’ source, since I never stop thinking about it. Cats aren’t so fussy that they will starve themselves to death. Tungsten, for one, cares little for the rest of the world, so the idea of her conducting a hunger strike over social conditions is a fantasy.

I had to force-feed Tucker when he first came to live with me because he was too despondent to eat. Starvation was unlikely but if cats don’t eat for several days, their internal organs will suffer, perhaps irreparably. But honestly, I’m not concerned about my three (plus one) having problems like that. I worry that they are not getting the proper nutrients, I worry that they are not consuming enough water (cats never drink as much as they should) and I worry that they simply aren’t enjoying their food.

All the animals eat California Natural brand hard-food, chicken and brown rice formula. I don’t know whether they like it or eat it because there is no other hard-food offered. They seem to know that hard-food forms the bulk of their diet and the soft-food is given as a treat, since they feel they are able to be choosy about the latter.

I feed Fancy Feast as the soft-food in my house; I’d rather serve better quality brands but Fancy Feast is what most like most, if you know what I mean.

Tucker and Josie are easy to please, Josie more so. My Chubs likes almost anything that I give her in the way of cat food. There are a few varieties of extra-healthy tinned food for which she doesn’t care, but they are few and far between. Tucker comes a close second, though he doesn’t care much for fish flavours. He’ll eat them, but he prefers others. He is also picky about what, on a dish, he consumes. When I gave him a portion of Spot’s Stew brand food, I discovered afterward that he had eaten everything but two peas; they lie squashed and abandoned.

Tungsten eats very little even at the best of times. Putting the food-dish in front of her four or five times will get her to eat more than she would really like, but it’s never much, and I don’t want to force any cat to eat anything unless it’s a matter of survival. I can count on one hand the times that the orange one has eaten everything in her bowl.

Renn is my major worry. My big boy should have one of the strongest appetites, considering his size. He’s not fat, like Josie, or on his way to being fat, like Tucker, but he’s a long, lean creature as heavy as my Chubs. He eats from the hard-food bowl, which is always available, but he doesn’t resort to it often. It doesn’t seem necessary for him. Yet he’s not suffering from a loss of appetite, as he looks forward to a bowl of soft-food at dinner- and snack-times. And that’s when I feel bad.

Renn doesn’t seem to like much in the way of cat food. I’ve tried about twenty flavours of Fancy Feast, ten different varieties of Blue and associated brands, California Natural soft-food and others. There is nothing that he loves, or even is inordinately fond of. Some days he will barely sniff at his food before walking away. And he whines when I try to push food on him. It’s true that he seems to like the taste of fish (the opposite of Tucker’s views on the subject), but just the taste: he will lick a bowl-full of fish bits, but not eat any, leaving dried pieces that the other cats won’t finish up for him.

Fancy Feast chicken flavour pate (everything sounds tastier in French: “Pass the hen-paste” just doesn’t have that je ne sais quoi when rendered in English) is what he likes the most. I have been giving all the cats that, and Renn has eaten most of his portions when they comprise that flavour. I hope this isn’t a passing phase.

Though I would spend significant amounts of money if I could find something my big boy loved (something they all loved would be better) and was good for him, I can’t keep experimenting, watching him nibble a little then have to throw the balance out. The worst is when I bring him his soft-food bowl. He sits up with his eyes wide and his face expectant - usually to be disappointed. At least he hasn’t refused to eat some of the new flavour; he actually appears to enjoy it - so far.

I will give my animals human food once in a while as a treat, but their reactions to it are mixed. Tungsten and Tucker love chicken, whereas Josie (surprisingly) does not. There is actually something my big white won’t eat. Renn won’t touch human food, either. Tucker would live on our diet, if it were available. He likes even fruit, something I discovered when, in order to discourage him from leering at me while I ate, I offered him some. I assumed he would sniff, perhaps lick, then turn away. He not only licked it, but chewed it up and wanted more. I did not renew the offer, fearing the consequences on his insides. But I think the roly poly one would and could eat anything.

That fact in itself sometimes worries me. I worry when they don’t eat enough, when they eat too much, when they don’t like food, when they don’t eat in their usual manner. It makes me wonder why I have cats, the anxiety I experience. It’s enough to put me off my food.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't that funny about Renn? I went through all that expensive experimentation with his brother, Mondo, only to discover that he just doesn't like wet food. We went through most of the varieties available at Tail Blazers to little avail. He will eat part of a tiny can of Solid Gold tuna, but he won't finish his portion and he won't want to finish the rest of the can either. Like you said, he more licks the fish flavor than he eats the fish.

    Since Mondo nearly died from a urinary blockage before PAW re-rescued him, he is limited to his veterinary diet, which he thankfully likes in kibbles. I tried transitioning him to that same California Naturals kibble you're feeding (and that our Garret eats) but he stopped peeing for 24 hours at only half mix. Mondo gets vet food. And Mondo won't eat canned food. He does drink his water though.

    Garret loves the Wellness chicken and Wellness turkey wet food varieties. Sometimes Mommy spoils him and makes the turkey ala catnip and the chicken ala Friskies Party Mix. *teehee*