Every time I eat food, my 13-year-old gray tabby, Bubba Lee Kinsey, wants a piece of the action. It doesn’t matter whether I’m having cereal with marshmallows (his favorite) or spinach and strawberries (he’s not a fan), the minute I sit down and bust out my fork, he’s all up in my grill.
Compounding the problem: Bubba Lee has mastered “solicitation purring,” a high-pitched cry, similar to that of a human baby, embedded within a purr. No joke — cats developed this gut-wrenching sound specifically to manipulate humans and get what they want. And guess what? It works.
That doesn’t mean I’m always jazzed about ripping kitty-sized chunks off my sandwich to satiate my feline friends. When it’s mealtime, here are the five stages of deciding to share food with my cats, from the time I sit down to when I finally give them a bite — or several.
Even though Bubba Lee Kinsey has begged during every meal for the last 13 years, there’s still a moment before I sit down when I think this time might be different. Maybe, I think, I’ll be able to eat this bowl of cereal pants-less on the couch like a normal person instead of doing mealtime gymnastics to keep Bubba’s bewhiskered face from penetrating my Marshmallow Glitters. Maybe I won’t have to lift the bowl over my head with one hand while stopping Bubba’s increasingly forceful advances with the other.
Maybe this will be a totally normal breakfast. Anything is possible, right?
Seriously, Bubba Lee? You want a bite of my spinach, hummus, and falafel wrap? You don’t like spinach, hummus, or falafel; in fact, as an obligate carnivore, you have not evolved to digest these substances successfully. So just lay off, okay? Stop pawing at my leg and making that sad little noise.
You’re such a big cat ÔÇô- shouldn’t your voice be deeper, maybe, like a feline Tom Waits? That sweet little mew sounds all kinds of wrong coming out of your weathered face. You survived a troubled youth on the mean streets, and you still have the voice of a kitten, and that’s just not fair. Seriously, stop. Don’t jump on the table. Seriously, get off the table. You’ll get nothing and you’ll like it.
Okay, you can have a little bit of bread if you’ll just go away. I’ll throw it into the other room, and you’ll chase it and eat it, and then you’ll leave me alone. Deal? Okay, here you go -ÔÇô go get it!
Wait, why are you coming back? I thought we had a deal. GET OFF THE TABLE. Will kitty treats suffice? Maybe you’ll eat some Greenies and I’ll eat this steak and we’ll call it even? Does that work for you?
Why aren’t you eating them? You love Greenies. OK, just a little piece of steak then. A kitty-sized bite, and then we’re cool. Right? We both agree on this? WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?
I wasn’t hungry anyway. Here ÔÇô- I’m done. No, really -ÔÇô I don’t want any more. It’s fine. Just go ahead and lick it. Lick all of it. Here, you missed a spot. Want some more? Have some more. I’m just going to take a nap.
Come on, Bubba Lee, it’s time for dessert. We’re having popsicles. I know coconut is your favorite. You can have the first lick.
Do you share food with your cats? Tell us about it in the comments!
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.