Tag Archives: pet

Cat Food: When Her Favourite Is No Longer Her Favourite

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.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Keeping the Christmas Tree Vertical (in the Presence of a Curious Cat)

The first Christmas after Ivy the Wonder Cat joined me, the same jitters that I felt before her adoption were back with a vengeance. This time, I was worried about how she would behave around the artificial Christmas tree.

Five months into our relationship, I already knew she was a good little kitty who didn’t have any predispositions to destructive behaviour. Nonetheless, she still had a strong curious streak which could make the tradition of keeping a Christmas tree upright a challenge. I had heard enough horror stories and seen enough videos to know just exactly what cats are capable of, in the presence of a bright, shiny “play structure” in the middle of the living room.

I turned to my panel of experts at the office who all offered fabulous, practical tips to keeping the tree and the cat safe (thanks again, everyone!) Plus, with experience, I added a few of my own ideas upon realizing that my cat was not only smart but fearless when it came to climbing the tree.

Here are some of the strategies I use to keep my Christmas tree vertical throughout the holiday season:

– For the first Christmas with Ivy, I kept my most cherished (and breakable) ornaments in a box, safely tucked away until I knew how she would behave. This took some of the fear and apprehension out of the experience.

– When I install the tree lights, I try to avoid the branches at the very bottom, within the reach of her paws. By avoiding those branches, not only is it safer for Ivy and the tree, I find that at human eye-level, the overall appearance of the tree is enhanced given the greater concentration of lights higher up. Continue reading

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Would I Volunteer When I Retire?

Ever since I turned 50, not a day passes that I don’t consider what I might want to do in retirement.

It is kind of funny because for the first half of my career, it was all about mentally preparing for the next work assignment and the next career step, hoping to strike to right balance between something I can be good at, something lucrative and sustainable, and something that will keep me happy.

At this stage in life, the hunt is still on, but not so much about the next career step as it is for activities I may be interested in pursuing in my next chapter.

Of course, there is no rush. As I suggested in my post about my retirement “gap year”, sleeping, recharging my batteries and writing for the fun of it will be my top activities in that first year. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking note of the activities that make me happy and which hold particular meaning to me.

Volunteering is one of those activities.

Much like with one’s career, I think it is very important to pitch in not only where the need exists but also to volunteer for causes that are close to one’s heart. In doing so, the time spent volunteering should be more fun and energizing rather than draining.

This is what I tried to explain to my dad many moons ago, when he objected to my volunteering just as I was launching my career. In retrospect, I certainly understand his point of view in that it was important to focus my full energy to my burgeoning career. But early on, there were days that I felt that my job was not tapping into my full potential, especially from a creative perspective.
That is why I was looking for other outlets. Continue reading

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How the Feline Barricade Saved Me from Myself

Shortly after the arrival of Ivy the Wonder Cat, when she started dropping her guard with me, it was a wonderful thing.

Those first few times that I was quietly watching TV only to find Ivy inconspicuously walking into my lap, plopping herself down and making herself comfortable, were heartwarming moments.

When trust and comfort conspired to become her naptime, I knew that I had succeeded in creating the right environment, that she was comfortable with me, and that we had truly bonded.

The only pitfall of that was getting locked into a couch or armchair and not being able to get up. I hated the risk of disturbing her peaceful sleep.

Fortunately, I caught on early and made sure that if I was sitting down with plans to watch TV for a while, to make sure I had gone to the bathroom first, had a beverage next to me, my remotes by my side and a pen and note paper, in case moments of creative inspiration should happen to strike me during my immobilization. Continue reading

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How the Cat Opened My Heart

I think it would be fair to say that I have always been a sensitive guy. Some might even say that is a bit of an understatement given that I have been known to cry at previews at the movies. It might be a bit inconvenient and a tad embarrassing, but I am quite comfortable being the guy for whom sympathy, empathy, compassion and joy run close to the surface.

To me, feelings remind us that we have blood coursing through our veins and that we are part of the human experience. It’s a wonderful thing.

But is it possible to become even more sensitive than that? You bet! And I have the cat to thank.

When I was planning and preparing for the adoption of my cat Ivy, almost two years ago, no one mentioned the many ways a pet can alter one’s range of emotions. What an unexpected epiphany!

I have accepted the fact that when she is waiting for me at the door when I get home from work, it’s likely not because she missed me, it is because it is feeding time. No delusions there.

But after she has filled her belly with her favourite catch of the day and starts following me around as I prepare dinner, that’s when I start sensing that she missed me. And of course, the feeling is mutual.

On a cognitive level, I have always understood the attachment between pets and their owners. Now, as a new pet owner, I also understand it with every fibre of my being.

It’s not like my heart needed much melting to begin with, but with Miss Ivy, it melts a little more each day with everything she “says” and does. She is a ten pound bundle of cuteness. Continue reading

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The Cat I Didn’t Take Home

It has been almost one year since I took home my beautiful cat Ivy and as you can see by the picture, she has made herself quite at home. Frankly, she is just about as perfect as she looks in the picture and I could not have asked for a better little friend.Ivy_Cat_May2016

Yet, I still feel bad when I think about the other cats I met during the “Cat Auditions” last spring. It feels so wrong to be thinking about other cats when I am petting Ivy, but I think it is natural to hope that they all found good forever homes.

One in particular has been on my mind a great deal, I met one day after work at a pet store near my office that carried pets for the Ottawa Humane Society. Just for a point of reference, let’s call her Gloria, even though that was not her real name.

When I got to the store, there was a dog and a dog owner in the store chatting with the two clerks, inquiring about a furniture “investment piece”. From my vantage point, the dog appeared to be a happy and friendly puppy, joyfully playing for her audience and soaking up all of the attention. But from that same vantage point, Gloria’s cage looked empty.

When the dog and his owner left, I asked the clerks where Gloria was. They walked me to the cage saying she was probably just hiding because the dog likely made her nervous.

Sure enough, once we got to the cage, a little head peeped out of the cardboard box in the cage, revealing gorgeous Gloria… but incredibly stressed Gloria as well.

Gloria was an older cat, 7 years old, with a story that tugged at my heartstrings. Continue reading

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Just Like Mom

Ivy_May2016This past year brought the arrival of Ivy the Wondercat into my life and whether I was aware of it or not, in becoming a first time pet owner I would also get my first taste at parenting. Also, whether I knew it or not, I was probably destined to take after one parent more than the other in terms of parenting style.

The first new months I think we can disregard as unrepresentative, as both Ivy and I were all over the map. Ivy was just getting used to her new fur-ever home and her new life as an indoor cat after being a stray, living a hard life on the streets for 9 months.

In return, I was overthinking and reading too much into her every action, and interrogating my friends and colleagues wondering if any slight misstep were potential signs of behavioural problems. Thank heavens for good friends to point out the obvious: that she was a cat, curious about her new surroundings, and just adjusting to her new life.

Just the same, whenever Ivy would jump on counters or the dining room table, I thought action was required on my part or else risk being stuck for 20 years with a cat with bad habits. I tried products and tricks to try to keep her off the counters including aluminum foil, a drop or two of lemon juice, shaking a can of coins. Nothing that would hurt her of course, but just to act as a deterrent. Yet she seemed relentless.

One day, she jumped on the dining room table while I was busy doing dishes. Without really thinking about it, I just slowly walked up to her on the dining room table, gently stroked behind her ears and sweetly asked, “What is it Sweetie? Is something wrong?” She immediately jumped off the table, ran downstairs and sat down by her little exercise ball. It ran out of kibble. Once I added more kibble to the ball, she was fine. That is all it took.

Hmmm…

The next time she was up on a kitchen counter, Continue reading

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