Thursday, December 21, 2006

In search of ... Bonito Flakes

Having a diabetic cat meant a bunch of changes around my house, largely centering on food. When, how much, and (very important) what. Diabetic means low-carb. It was out with the old food, and in with the new. Out with the old treats and in with freezed dried bonito tuna flakes. These changes have been very popular with the kitties.

But I realized last night that the bonito flake supply is getting a wee bit thin. I'm down to little slivers. Now, I'm new to this feline diabetes gig, but one thing I already know, for sure, is that Isabella will put me in a headlock and take me down if I don't keep the bonito coming.

It happens I had a little time on my hands (OK, I skipped my workout. Sue me.) so I popped over to the Asian supermarket to pick some up.

Popped. Right.

In the door, I was first relieved to see that the signs over the aisles were in English. Snacks? No -- I'm pretty sure it's not a snack, except for my cat. Sauces? No -- but it's gotta be pretty flavorful (judging from the stench, er, aroma), so I'll start here. Wow, lots of sauces. Never noticed if there are this many at Safeway. No sign of bonito flakes.

Ah! At the end of the sauce aisle -- cans and containers of fried ground fish. That's pretty close. I studied everything in the vicinty. No dice. And now I realize that I'm not certain what sort of package I'm looking for. My inaugural supply came from the pet store (where it's conveniently located under the "Cat Treats" sign) in a little tub similar to faux butter spread. Here, I'm sure it ain't in the cat treat section and it could be in anything from a tub to a bag to ...

On to the next aisle. Seaweed: dried,canned,jarred. Lots of mushrooms (in states similar to their seaweed neighbors). Turnips that really, really, don't look like turnips. Seriously. I picked up a pack and thought it was squid. No bonito.
Next aisle: "Japanese items" says the sign. Oh, crap! I never gave a thought to what sort of asian market this is. What if bonito is a Japanese thing and they don't stock it in this not-japanese market?

I asked the lady shopping in the aisle with me. She had exactly no idea what I was talking about. I was probably speaking the wrong language. I'm two miles from home, and I can't communicate. Double crap. Why didn't I go work out?

Next aisle: Noodles. Both sides. The whole aisle. Only noodles. Wow. I backtrack to that "snacks" aisle. Ya never know! At this point, all bets are off. Nothing. Back to the canned fried fish. Again: no.

I'm determined to find this stuff. I slowly cruise aisle 2 (Seaweed, if you recall) and BONANZA! There it is! Bags. Big, lovely bags of bonito. All the writing on the bag is, um, not readable by me, but I recongize it! Look -- a wee tag: "shaved bonito." I would have seen it on the first pass if I hadn't been distracted by those weird turnips.

Sweet success. I scored a big bag, for which I paid one dollar more than the pet store bonito and it's easily 20 times more. (Probably 20 times as smelly, too.)

While in line to pay it dawned on me that this would be a good store to find things like hearts and livers and other icky (but low carb!) cat treats. I deduced this from the large bags of unidentifiable meaty things purchased by the shoppers in front of AND behind me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm exhausted.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Meet the kitties

This blog is to be about my experiences caring for Isabella, my diabetic cat. But before diving into that, I'll introduce both of my cats and their considerable quirks.


Oh, so aptly named, for she is the Queen. I adopted Isabella from the Humane Society as a wee kitten. She was so cute – a tiny little black and white fur bundle with a perfectly symmetrical mask-like marking on her face. I now know that it’s probably the mark of the devil. Forget 666. Meet my cat.

Our first night together set the stage. I set up a cozy little cat bed in my room, upon which I deposited young Isabella and turned out the lights. Within minutes that eight-inch-tall kitten clawed up the bed skirt and comforter to re-deposit herself next to me. I moved her back to her bed. And then I did it again. And again, many more times. I finally recognized that Isabella would outlast me in this battle, and so it has been that she chooses her sleeping arrangements, and everything else, ever since.

Isabella is my cat (or perhaps it is that I am her person). She follows me everywhere. Where I sit, she sits. Everything would be perfectly fine in the Land Of Isabella if it was just the two of us. Other people be damned – if you come to visit, she wants you out. If you won’t leave, she wants a piece of you. Bottom line, my cat is never nice to other people and is frequently not that nice to me. Her teeth are her weapon of choice. Claws come next.


Isabella was about 1 ½ when Casey joined our happy band. He was a wee kitten found in the bushes near my office. Separated from his mother and siblings, my feral baby used his considerable lung power to announce his distress. His mother was too slow to the rescue – instead he was snatched up, boxed up and taken home by me.

I deposited that terrified little guy in my downstairs bathroom with a litter box, food and water, and shut the door. Isabella’s expression clearly said “what the f*** did you put in there?” Her world was shattered. It was no longer just the two of us.

After a few days of isolation (and a trip to the vet for shots and deworming) Casey was allowed out of his bathroom to meet his new sis. Love at first sight. He adores Isabella. She disdains him. She grooms him, then bites. She knocks him off my lap, off her favorite chair, off the bed at night. Even after ten years, Casey is so far down the cat-ranking totem pole, that Isabella sometimes won’t allow him in the same room. She’s such a bitch. And he loves her to pieces.

Alas, I didn’t introduce Casey to enough people when he was young. He’s never overcome his feral roots and is wary of strangers. Many of my friends and family members think I’m lying about having two cats. They’ve never seen him. Too bad, since Casey’s as sweet and nice as they come. He never bites, even when he’s scared.* His sister makes up for that just fine.

*Maybe he does bite. As a kitten, Casey spent a day at the vet’s office for a deworming procedure. When I picked him up, the vet tech brought Casey in his carrier from the back. “This isn’t a kitten. This is fur with teeth.” I had warned them that he was feral. They believed me now.