October 21, 2014, was a day like any other day: I rolled out of bed and stepped gingerly into the kitchen, trying to avoid stepping on and kicking the three cats who swirled around and between my feet, crying and chirping and begging for their breakfast.
My old kitty, Siouxsie, was just as enthusiastic for her morning meal as her housemates, Thomas and Belladonna. As I rehydrated their food and washed their bowls, Siouxsie walked back and forth in front of me, reminding me in her “Marge Simpson’s sister” croak that it was time to feed the kitties.
But everything changed once I put her dish on the floor.
She looked at the food inside it, gave it a good sniff, and walked away.
I tried putting her back in front of the food, but she wouldn’t have any of it.
I tried moving her bowl onto the counter and put her in front of it. Nope.
Feeding her from a spoon? No go.
I figured maybe she was feeling nauseated, so I gave her a quarter of a Cerenia tablet, as directed by my vet, and let her sit for a while. Then I tried again, with fresher food and a super-duper-extra-rinsed bowl, about half an hour later. She still wouldn’t eat. But she looked at me with big sad eyes and croak-meowed at me. She even tried to make herself look extra hollowed-out and gaunt, just to make me feel guilty.
And thus began the opening salvo in the Food Wars saga.
After I couldn’t get her to eat anything that was nutritious and food-like in nature, I succumbed and gave her some grain-free, high-protein kitty snacks: I knew if she didn’t get something in her stomach, she’d just get more nauseated and even less likely to eat.
Because I’m a fool, I tried again with the same food at supper time. Again, I got the same result, and again, Siouxsie got kitty snacks so she wouldn’t cry and croak at me all night and look at me with that haggard “how dare you abuse and neglect an old lady?” face.
The next morning, I dug through the depths of my cat food cabinet, hoping to find something other than The Food Her Majesty Would Not Touch. To my great relief, I found a small can of super-ultra-deluxe cat food I was given as part of a promotion and review package for my blog.
She sniffed the food — which, by the way, she actually liked and ate with gusto when I gave it to her during the product review! — and turned her nose up at it.
Guess who got kitty snacks for breakfast.
But I wasn’t going to give up that easily. Siouxsie couldn’t live on kitty snacks for the rest of her life.
On my way to work, I stopped by my local independent pet store and stocked up on about a dozen brands and flavors of food, as well as a pile of free samples offered to me by the sales associate, who took pity on me after I shared my tale of woe.
I didn’t know what to expect at the next meal time. But when I got home and popped open one of those super-special freebies for Siouxsie, she couldn’t even wait until I put all of it in her dish before she started chowing down.
She shoots … she scores! And the crowd goes wild!
After a couple of days of feline gastronomic snobbery, I still wasn’t sure how things would go the next morning. But lo and behold, I opened another one of those delightful cans of gooshy goodness, and she scarfed that right down, too. And so the next few days went, until the free samples were gone. Then the moment of truth was upon me: What would happen if I fed her some of the food she’d rejected when all of this began?
Yup, you guessed it. She ate every single bit of the food she’d rejected a week before.
How about you? Have you ever had a cat you’ve had to coax and cajole into eating? What finally brought your cat around? Share your stories in the comments!
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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog,Paws and Effect, since 2003.