Two weeks ago, Target, Tic Tac and Inkie received a parcel in the post. Much to their delight, a kind friend had sent them a stack of treats, biscuits and gourmet food.
Life is to be enjoyed, so we dived right in.
Target recently lost a fang, he’s 14 years old now so it’s not unusual, but he happily munched away and asked for seconds. Tic Tac and Inkie were right with him, eating from their own stack, stealing from each other, and purring loudly.
Afterwards, we parcelled off shares to friends and put the rest away for later.
We buy cat food and litter in bulk once a month and squirrel it away in the store room off the kitchen. It’s nice and cool, and out of the way of foot traffic, so ideally placed.
So, I put the treat packs in a bowl on the kitchen counter and stacked the biscuits neatly in the store room. Then I went about my business. As usual, Target came to the office with me, while Tic Tac and Inkie enjoyed a spot of rug wrestling.
Normally, the cats are in and out of my office, visiting for chats, for cuddles and to climb the bookcase. This time they were absent.
It was about two hours later that I realised they were suspiciously silent. Wondering what they were up to, I went down to check. The absence of toilet paper confetti and the integrity of the dustbin were initially reassuring.
Looking around, I spotted a black tail sticking out of a cardboard box. Thinking Inkie was asleep, I was about to tiptoe back upstairs, when Tic Tac stuck her head out. She was chewing and, when she spotted me, she swallowed quickly.
Radar on high alert, I peeked into the box, only to find a frantically gulping Inkie trying to sit on top of an empty treat packet.
The two naughty cats had jumped on the kitchen counter, stolen a packet of treats, and then dragged it into the cardboard box so they could gorge without being caught.
Tic Tac had the grace to look guilty but Inkie was happily triumphant. Both of them purred when I removed the chewed-up packet and they ran boldly into the kitchen to see if they could snaffle a second pack.
While I called them a pair of pirates, I was impressed. It was an excellent piece of work, combining stealth, audacity and cunning, and so I petted them as I locked the remaining treat packets in a cupboard.
It was Inkie who was the instigator. Tic Tac will con us into giving her double breakfast, and she’s totally shameless when it comes to stealing Target’s goop, but she has never stolen from the kitchen counter. Inkie, on the other hand, is a little devil.
If I put down my marketing or am meal-prepping, he’ll be up on the counter, whipping away a bit of what he fancies, the second my back is turned. He even steals from the bin, one back paw on the pedal to lift the lid while he fishes for loot inside.
You’d think that decades of living with cats would have taught me something, but when God was handing out brains, I was definitely hiding behind the door. So instead of thinking it through, I went about my business – while Inkie went about his.
That night, the cats didn’t finish their supper. I put it down to them having stuffed themselves with treats. The following night, they only ate half of their dinner. We were concerned, until we compared notes and realized that Tic Tac had persuaded Tom to hand over an extra meal – "she forgot to feed us, honest" – while I was tending to an emergency client.
But for three days after that, the cats were leaving food in their bowls. They weren’t conning us for extra meals, so I made them a special chicken supper, and worried. The only thing that comforted me was that all three were glowing with health and vigour.
Then I went into the storeroom one morning to get the vacuum cleaner, and I stepped on a kitty crunchy. Looking around, I found two bags of cat biscuits secreted behind the door. Both had been ripped open and two-thirds of the contents were gone.
When I turned around, Inkie was in the doorway, looking aghast. Also, rotund. By my calculation, he had liberated over a kilo of cat biscuits in a week.
Inkie is clearly a very clever boy with a will of steel. As one bag of cat litter had also been opened and abandoned, but a nearby box of washing soda was untouched, our pet had carefully figured out what stack to target.
Although we have an evil genius in our midst, we can’t have him running a buffet in the storeroom. I explained why as I locked all the cat food away in a cupboard. I gave him a compensatory treat for solace and effort too.
For a few hours, Inkie lay in front of the storeroom. I thought he was upset but Tom predicted he was simply thoughtful.
Inkie got his revenge pretty much instantly. He’s taken to wakening me up at six in the morning, headbutting me while purring cheerfully. And when I groan and hide my head under the pillow, he meows.
His message is clear: I can be in charge of the cat food or I can have lie-ins but not both. I’m determined to stick to my guns, but this little cat will give me a run for my money. We don’t know what he’ll think of next, but it’s bound to be a doozy. Wish us luck!
Feeding your pet is as complex a question of how much you might feed a child or yourself. The answer involves a complex equation that includes your pet’s age, weight, activity level, state of health, plus any special needs.
Vets, animal behaviourists and other experts argue about cat diets. Therefore, all general recommendations are controversial. But there are some basic points to consider.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat meat. It’s how they’re designed, so you must give them animal protein like meat, chicken or fish.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, two amino acids are particularly important: arginine that removes ammonia from their bodies, and taurine that promotes health and growth. Cats can’t make these and so these must be in their food.
Also, as cats are not good at drinking water, dehydration is a serious issue. Cats who don’t get enough water have problems with digestion, urination, kidney issues and more. It’s a huge health issue that is often overlooked, so be mindful of this.
There are charts online that will help you work out how many calories a day your kitty needs at their stage of life and activity level. As calories vary by product, be sure to check the label and serving suggestions on the back.
As cats have small bodies, they do best on several small meals a day, rather than two big ones. We feed breakfast, early dinner and a late supper. When we have kittens, we add in a small lunch.
Our cats love to nibble on biscuits but on the principle that they are obligate carnivores and not made to digest carbs, we pile up the wet food. This protein is easy to digest and contains lots of moisture. Also, it comes with extra jelly which helps keep them hydrated. Biscuits are a side snack.
How much to feed them also changes. We keep adjusting as the cats move through different stages of life and activity level. Also, some days we need more dinner and sometimes we have to cut back a bit. Diets are always a work in progress.
So work out what’s best for your pet, and if you need help, go and have a chat with your vet.