I had made my cat fat.
Well, I didn’t want a fatty for a cat, so her eating plan was switched to a once-a-day measured dose of kibble. When Casey joined our household, I just added a second food bowl and put him on the same meal plan. Isabella’s weight didn’t really go down, but she didn’t get any fatter.
All was well for many years.
Then I read an article about how cats in the wild eat several small meals a day – as prey is caught. The article suggested that companion cats would fare well with the same sort of feeding routine. As I only wanted the very best for my kits (wasn’t I proudly serving them designer kibble, after all?) I decided to start feeding a morning and an afternoon meal. I’d just split the ration in two. Isabella adapted with great enthusiasm to the new routine. Casey, as always, could care less.
But the plan was flawed.
Isabella, being no dummy, figured out that she got fed when I got out of bed. It became her mission, her single-minded ambition, to get me out of bed as early as possible. If 6am was good, 5:30 was better. Or 5:00, 4:45 – whatever. She’d stand on me meowing incessantly. She’d paw at the covers. She was relentless.
And I was miserable. My boyfriend wasn’t too happy either. So I did the only logical thing and reverted back to the once-a-day, after work meal plan. The hell with her natural cat needs - I had to sleep.
Fast forward to last September in the vet’s office. Isabella, I’m told, is diabetic and will need twice-a-day insulin to be given with food. I instantly saw my sleepless future. (I’m ashamed to admit that when I got the news of diabetes, all of my first thoughts were about me: How could I ever travel? How could I sleep?)
Since I work, I knew that her insulin would have to be administered at about 6am and 6pm. And I knew that as soon as Isabella discovered that 6am brought food, she would start her campaign. I couldn’t let that happen. I needed a plan and this is what I came up with:
Food time is when the alarm goes off. Not one minute sooner. Isabella could campaign all she wanted, but I would not budge until the man in the radio was talking – and he would start talking at 6am. Every day. Weekdays, weekends.
She might get restless at about 5:30, but Isabella hangs out pretty quietly until six, when the alarm goes off. Then, bam! she springs into action. First, she kisses the radio. (I’m not kidding. She loves that radio man more than me now.) Then she makes sure I’m moving. A paw to the face, a whiney meow. Get up! Get up! Get up! Which, of course, I do.
The switch between standard time and daylight savings is a bit of a bug. But I cope with that by changing the alarm by 15 minutes each day for several days until we’re on the new track. That seems to work out too.
It is disconcerting to see her blatant affection for the radio man. It is me, after all, who pays for and serves the food. But she knows who really holds the power.