If you have indoor cats, you’ve probably noticed they begin to clamor for food as soon as they can see the bottom of their bowl. There are several theories as to why they do this, but at least two of them — poor depth perception, whisker stress (look it up) – suggest they eat from the middle of the bowl and, once it empties, have trouble seeing the food at the sides.
My cat army has another weird eating issue. They refuse to eat food that has fallen out of the bowl and onto the floor and/or food they have nibbled on that has fallen into the bowl.
It is maddening.
For starters, from my aged human eyes, it always appears that the bowl is full, and, thus, that the army should be happy. Trust me. That is not always the case.
Indeed, on a recent Saturday morning, I checked their bowl, saw that it was full, and proceeded to break my fast with a warm bowl of oatmeal. The army did not break their fast. Instead, they sat on each side of me, giving me pitiful stares.
I quickly deduced that the bowl was filled with fallen food and it was beneath my spoiled, privileged felines to feast on such filth.
But on that morning, I decided to make my stand. I had given in before, but not on this day. I am proud to say that I have never lost a staring contest with a cat. What’s more, I roll my eyes when folks compare an unmanageable task to herding cats. Pshaw. It might take some time. You might sport scratches for a few weeks, but you can herd cats.
You can force them to eat fallen food, too, and I was going to prove that if our standoff lasted days.
It lasted three hours and ended with me throwing out the bowl full of, to my aged eyes, perfectly acceptable food, and filling it with fresh food.
When I related this saga to other humans who live with cats, they repeated a variation of the same lines, “You should have known. They always win.”
True and true.
The cat army’s refusal to eat food that has previously touched their mouths and/or the floor has led me to this question – are big cats such as lions or tigers or even mid-size cats like bobcats and cougars so weird? And what about feral cats and outdoor cats?
Because something tells me that cats that survive in the wild are not going to stare at me for three hours and then run to the bathtub and howl with hunger pangs if I so much as suggest they nibble on a kibble that did not directly come from the bag.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.