April 26, 2011

Breakfast with Cats


Breakfast in our household begins promptly at 6:30, seven days a week. I don't get weekends off to sleep in. The General won't allow it.

With spring comes storms, and plenty of them here in the Mid-South. This year I purchased a weather radio. I was plenty sick of being caught unprepared, especially with six cats plus a few outdoor ones I'm particularly fond of. I have a kitchen closet deep and wide stacked with cages ready to be filled. I even have them tagged for who is placed where. In the closet I have bottled water, canned and dry food. Medication. Feli-Way spray to calm them down...I kinda hope it also works on me.

This week we've had several storms roll through, tripping the weather radio alarm. The band I use also sends alerts to storms in nearby Arkansas. This year Arkansas seems to be targeted for the worst with flooding, tornadoes, lightening and more. The alarm, meant to give me warning, has ramped up my panic. I now understand the meaning behind the saying, ignorance is bliss. I had bliss before I bought the radio. No more.

Yesterday morning I awoke to storm clouds and rain. I set up the cat bowls and divvied up the Fancy Feast, the DM (for Buddy) and the CD (for Herman). Peaches requested sprinkles so I added a few kibbles over her bowl. I'm trying to steer my gang off dry food. Its not healthy and I've lost a few cats to kidney disease, but a few is better than a constant bowl.

I scatter the bowls around my kitchen. Each cat has their own particular place preference. Opie and Peaches eat side by side. So does Nick and his toady, Cookie (aka The General). Herman eats in front of the kitchen sink. Barney on the table, a habit formed from years of having his food taken by the alphas before he's finished. Buddy eats in the bedroom. At age 20 he's had enough of the morning drama and requested his meals to be catered.

I then feed the outdoor cats: Chauncie in the fenced yard, sometimes Jack. Jesse and his daughter JayJay on the other porch. They prefer to eat atop their cat trees. I also bring kibble and cookies for a couple young raccoons who will join the cats in their cat tree if I don't feed them by the woods. Once everyone is hunkered around the bowls, I wait.

I wait because once one of them finishes eating, he will move to see who hasn't. Normally its Nick who bullies his way into a brother's bowl, but with Nick now on Prozac, not only has his aggression issues mellowed, his appetite dropped and he's lost weight. A total godsend, that Prozac! Now I watch for Cookie to finish. I swear Cookie is bulimic. I've yet to see him stick a paw down his throat, but if I am distracted he will finish off as many bowls as he can, and then upchuck a warm soupy mess onto my freshly cleaned floor.

But with the spring storms comes additional commotion. This morning the alarm went off just as Cookie was tucking into his breakfast. It startled him enough to inhale through his left nostril. He wheezed and coughed and choked with considerable drama. That's all I need, I thought. Death by Fancy Feast. The alarm scattered several cats from their bowls. Having inhaled his own breakfast, Cookie helped himself to Herman's.

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