Cats are obligate carnivores, which is a fancy way of saying they require nutrients found only in flesh to thrive. They are also goatlike post-apocalyptic scavengers, which is a term I invented to address the fact that my two cats approach food and eating in a manner I generally associate with barnyard animals and the scrappy survivors of world-consuming nuclear war in science fiction. They are so clever, my cats; shouldn’t they know on some level that their digestive tracts are far too short to deal with the gastrointestinal fallout of, say, eating my favorite winter coat? If they know, they don’t care.
In the third installment of Stats & Cats, hard science from the domesticated animal kingdom broken down into bite-size pieces (Part 1 is The Actions of Felines Illustrated in Pie Charts, and Part 2 is The Holiday-Guest Warning Edition), let’s chew on what I’ve learned about feline eating habits.
Cats in the wild get most of the water they need from their prey; domesticated cats, in turn, get it from wet or canned food (which is around 70 percent water, not unlike the critters their feral pals hunt and kill). According to veterinary endocrinologists, a normal cat eating wet food might need only one ounce of additional water per day, and a normal cat eating only dry food might need an additional seven ounces or more. According to my cat Matty, diet soft drinks are nectars of the gods.
For a few weeks I was able to keep Matty from dipping his paws into our glasses by covering them with inverted salad bowls. He then figured out how to flip the bowls over, which he proceeded to do while we looked on in uncomfortable silence; it was like watching a Dalek elevate for the first time.
Due to what I can only assume are deep-seated racial hangups, Steve and Matty both refuse to eat dry food which is not explicitly produced for Siamese cats; fortunately, the only pet store within a mile of our apartment is willing to order and hide bags of it for me. One would perhaps expect the hairy little snobs to scoff at the human-vegetarian-friendly stuff I bring home for myself. (One would be wrong.)
Here is a photo of the time Steve ate the habaneros I grew to make salsa from scratch.
I realize that humans find things such as suits of armor and chunks of polar bear in sharks’ stomachs all the time, but that’s kind of sharks’ thing. I have no idea why Steve does what he does. I do know when he wants the food intended for him, though.
Message received, guys.
Next time in Stats & Cats: couch redistricting, sock migration, and last night’s most popular wrestling moves.
Read more by Lauren Oster.
About the author: Lauren Oster is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She and her husband share an apartment on the Lower East Side with Steve and Matty, two Siamese-ish cats. She doesn’t leave home without a book or two, a handful of plastic animals, Icelandic licorice mints, and her camera. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.