When it comes to Ivy the Wonder Cat, mealtime is usually pretty straightforward. She has four or five types of good quality wet food on rotation, she has a bowl of her favourite dry food, she has three kinds of treats in the cupboard, she has an exercise/feeder ball in the play room and she has plenty of fresh water to wash it all down and to stay hydrated.
Most times, she has a pretty healthy appetite and her bowls of wet food are gone in three or four visits. Sometimes, my social eater might gobble them down in two visits.
And based on the way Ivy operates, mealtime seems to confirm what I have heard and read about cats liking structure and aren’t fans of change.
She likes her meals served at the same time each day, and you can set your clock by Ivy. My extroverted kitty has no problem waking me up from a deep sleep that encroaches on her meal time.
Similarly, she doesn’t like me to diverge too often from a small rotation current favourites as it seems to disrupt the routine, resulting in uneaten portions. That being the case, when I am at the pet store, there is really no guesswork involved. I know what her favourites are and I just have to keep buying them, which certainly makes life easy for me.
That is, until the dreaded day one of her favourites is no longer her favourite.
It’s always a crushing moment to see her sniff the bowl, take a few licks, and walk away. This may be the beginning of the end for her and this flavour, even if it has been her favourite for weeks or for months.
But therein lies the answer, she could be bored with that particular flavour and wants something else.
I also find that her tastes might change with the seasons. A hearty pâté-style meal may be great in the winter, but it might be too heavy for her on a warm spring or summer day. If humans can think that, why can’t cats?
From there it can go either of two ways: either she ignores the wet food and fills up on her dry food, or else she might sit by the bowl and stare at me like I have committed the worst offence in the world.
If I miss the hint, sometimes it will be accompanied by meowing with an escalating volume that will eventually rival the decibel levels of police, fire and paramedic vehicles. In her eyes, it is an emergency after all! When that happens, forget about a quiet evening in.
While I would like to echo my dad and say, “Ivy, this isn’t a restaurant. Eat what is in front of you!” cats don’t work that way. She has the upper paw, with her ambulance volume as her leverage.
The easiest is to just give in and to put something else out. Then I’ll wrap up the bowl of snubbed food, put it in the fridge and to try again in a day or two.
On a subsequent attempt, I will unwrap the bowl and put it out again. If she eats it (which sometimes happens), that is great news. But if is met with the same reaction, she is probably telling me it is time to change.
Any unopened cans of that flavour will remain in the cupboard in the hope that she might accept it back in her life, but if after 2-3 attempts it doesn’t work out, there’s plenty of fishy cat food in the sea to choose from.
Even though many stores offer an opportunity to save a little money by buying a case at a time, on two occasions, as Murphy’s Law will have it, before the case was finished, she changed her mind.
I was very lucky that the stores that sold me those cases had generous return policies. I didn’t end up losing any money along the way, I just had to return the remaining unopened cans with the receipt. But before committing to a case, I always check out a pet store’s return policy.
I am lucky that when she has a clear favourite, on average I can get a 3 to 9 month run with it. The challenge is to get in early enough on the wave that I can benefit from a case price, but also knowing ahead of time what are the possibilities in terms of returns and refunds in case she changes her mind.
If there’s any doubt in my mind as to timing, then I just buy smaller quantities.
And when she changes her mind… and she will… it is just the acceptance that with cats (and with life) sometimes we just need to go with the flow.
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