Recent discoveries in cat feeding

Does our cat suffer from “whisker fatigue”?
Is that more interesting than politics? 

With America as troubled as she is, riven by political intrigue and class warfare, and my brain’s capacity for bad news almost at the limit, my attention has turned lately to more recondite items in the daily newscycle.

For example, did you catch the June 1 report that scientists had detected the collision of two black holes that resulted “in a pit of infinitely deep darkness weighing as much as 49 suns, some three billion light-years from [earth]?

Not as thrilling, I’ll grant you, as the Cubs winning their first World Series in what felt like a billion years, but kind of interesting nevertheless. 

But at least trying to figure out the business with the black holes kept my mind, albeit briefly, from obsessing about what former FBI Director James Comey might reveal about President Trump, if anything, in his testimony before the Senate tomorrow. 

Only four days after the news of the black hole smash-up, I ran into another fascinating—kind of— article about a disorder in cats known as “whisker fatigue” that might explain why cats make such a big deal about eating, and coincidentally, about another feline problem known as “cat acne.” 

Whisker fatigue occurs when a cat’s sensitive whiskers rub against the sides of a food bowl that is too deep. Cat acne arises when their chins rub against cheap plastic food bowls harboring bacteria. 

At first, some cat owners and vets scoffed at such problems, much less the need to buy specially designed cat food dishes, but they eventually were persuaded. Of course, someone now is marketing a bowl that reduces the heartbreak of both maladies, starting at $19.95. 
Stew and I were intrigued with this report—the hell with Comey and Trump, we said—because our sixteen-year-old cat Paco seems to be getting crankier by the day about eating and about life in general.

We picked up Paco at the pound in Chicago, where we found him waiting helplessly in a cage apart from the rest of the cats up for adoption. 

Potential health problem: Notice Paco’s
whiskers rubbing against the food bowl. 

We didn’t know the significance of Paco’s isolation until a couple of weeks later when we discovered to our dismay that he was afflicted with Urinary Misfire Syndrome (UMS). 

It’s a chronic problem that causes him to miss the litter box when he pees. Paco will hit a bullseye about three-quarters of the time but other times miss by a several inches on any side of the box. 

We’ve consulted with various authorities, including Martha Stewart’s former pet expert Marc Morrone who suggested something by e-mail that didn’t work. 

Over a period of years, we reluctantly concluded that maybe Paco is just not too bright.

In his dotage, Paco has picked up a couple of other problems. He’s grown tired of preening himself so his long and fine black fur is clumping up in dreadlocks that I have to trim while I watch television and he sits contentedly on my lap purring.  

Recently Paco’s fussiness about food also has increased markedly. We know because Paco is not one to suffer in silence. He’ll either meow in protest at the top of his lungs, walk away from his food dish or bat it on the floor if he doesn’t like the selection.  

Stew has attempted several different feeding trials: Cat food in foil bags, Whiskas versus Felix brand, stringy cat food instead of the clumpy, pâté-style, dry vs. canned. 

The most promising discovery came recently when Stew determined Paco really, really likes ham. Not any cheap kind, but top-shelf pork ham, sliced very thinly and cut into bite-size pieces about a half-inch square.

We know because in anticipation of his next serving of ham Paco walks around frantically, as if he’d snorted some crystal meth, and lets out high-pitched little meows that I think mean “Give me ham!” in feline lingo.

Apart from being expensive, Paco also vacuums the ham so quickly that it causes him to throw up later, so that’s not the solution.

Oh, boy, I can’t wait until the Comey hearings tomorrow. What time do they start, I wonder.

So the news about whisker fatigue and chin acne came at a good time. Paco is a likely sufferer of the whisker business because he has very long white whiskers that are noticeable against his otherwise completely black fur.

This morning we tried two different dishes, one stainless steel about four-and-a-half inches in diameter, and a plastic Whiskas dish we got free and is shaped like a cat’s face, with two ears sticking out on top. We are grateful to be retired and have so much available time.

Nice dish, where’s the food?

Results are inconclusive but seem to indicate that Paco generally doesn’t much care about the size or material of the dish, as much as what’s in it.

We were going to try some other dishes, but Paco got bored and just sauntered off dismissively, oblivious to us calling his name.

But wait, I just found out the details. The Comey hearings before the Senate’s Intelligence Committee start at nine a.m. Central time.

I might tune in once in a while at least, unless two more black holes collide or there’s a report of a cure for that annoying UMS syndrome in cats.


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