In Our Own Backyard…Eat to live — or live to eat?My cat has the munchies. Ever since we first got her as a tiny kitten at the Friends of Animals Shelter in Cloquet, Sunshine has seemed to have a fixation on eating.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
My cat has the munchies. Ever since we first got her as a tiny kitten at the Friends of Animals Shelter in Cloquet, Sunshine has seemed to have a fixation on eating. Perhaps it came from vying for the food bowl with all of those other kittens in the cat community room at the shelter, or maybe from her days “on the lam” in the streets of Cloquet, prior to being rescued and brought to the shelter. Or perhaps it goes way back to the time of her birth, when she may have been one of a large litter of kittens without enough “feeding stations” to go around.
In any case, she eats like there’s no tomorrow and has grown to the feline version of a wooly mammoth. We’ve had to separate her feeding bowl from that of our other cat, Mufasa, because when they ate side by side Sunshine would polish off her own dinner and then, in one smooth move, slide over to polish off Mufasa’s as well.
Now their bowls are on opposite sides of the room, but if we feed him first, she dashes up and hangs over his bowl until we fill hers. Then she races over, plunges her head in and swipes at the hand that’s feeding her, as if to tell us, “Get the heck out of my way!”
When we walk in the door after getting home from work at night, both cats are there to greet us. But while Mufasa’s top priority is getting scratched behind the ears, Sunshine’s involves a race down the hallway to her food bowl, in hopes of getting a snack.
When it gets to be feeding time, she speeds on ahead of us, making a loud squalling sound — kind of a combination between an infant’s howl and a bleating lamb.
Sunshine’s appetite is something to behold, all right, and we’re continually trying to cut down on the amount of food she eats in an effort to control her weight. But it seems that her appetite has begun to manifest itself in other ways. She chews on all sorts of things that she’s not supposed to. Last fall I bought my mom an African violet for her birthday, and I put it in the windowsill of my kitchen. It was filled with beautiful purple blooms when I went to bed that night, and when I got up the next morning, each of the blossoms had been neatly clipped off at the stem! I never found any proof, of course, but I had a sneaking suspicion it was Little Miss Sunshine who was the guilty party.
Any time I pick a bouquet of wildflowers or receive a floral arrangement for some special occasion, Sunshine is there in an instant to gnaw on it. She’s nipped off daisy tops, pussy willows, rosebuds and columbine tips. She’s dismantled entire stalks of lupine and “defuzzed” entire heads of cattails.
At Easter, I bought a fresh pineapple to use for our brunch, and when I got up on Easter morning I discovered the thorny leaves of the pineapple were filled with tiny tooth marks!
Not long ago, I planted some seeds in an old coffee mug and set them in my kitchen window to sprout. It took several days, but when the first tiny plant forced its way through the soil I was elated (especially with about four feet of snow outside the window!). It didn’t take more than a couple of hours, however, before Sunshine discovered the tiny plant as well, and neatly sheered the whole thing off right at dirt level.
I’ve ended up putting all flowers, plants, bouquets and anything remotely vegetative high up on the fireplace mantle or some other place where Sunshine can’t get to them. The only problem is, that often means that we can’t really enjoy them, either.
Knowing of Sunshine’s penchant for munching, and my own penchant for flowers, my husband once bought me an exquisite bouquet of carved wooden flowers at a big city boutique, thinking that would be the ultimate solution. The only problem was, after only a day or two, Sunshine had chewed on the wooden blooms as well!
I’m certain a veterinarian or a cat psychologist would tell me either her diet is lacking in something, or she’s in some way acting out her frustrations by seeking oral gratification. Don’t bother calling or writing me with your advice, however, because this week I figured it out for myself.
I was home alone on Monday night, working on writing a story about a rather dry subject, with no one to talk to or break the silence in any way. Restlessly, I set down my laptop and foraged through the kitchen for something to snack on, though I’d eaten dinner not long before. I came upon a bag of potato chips that was still about a third full, grabbed it and sat back down to finish writing my story. And before I even realized it, I’d eaten the whole thing.