Katz Tales: The cats and that third dinner

Tic Tac and Inkie, working together to demand extra food. Photos: Ellen Whyte

Cats are creatures of habit. They are committed to tradition, revelling in the rituals that affirm their values.

In our home, Target starts and ends the day with an ear and back rub. Inkie insists that we make the bed.

We also have time limited mini-traditions. Like Tic Tac’s current obsession with toilet flushing.

Her hobby started about a week ago when the water level adjustment rod in the upstairs loo malfunctioned. The dratted thing slipped, resulting in water trickling out of the tank.

Tic Tac adores to be busy, so when she heard me swear, she rushed in.

As I lifted the tank lid off, she splashed about in the puddle, delighting in the mess. Then she jumped up onto the seat so she could snoopervise.

She squealed with delight when I emptied the tank, and watched my tightening the screw with breathless delight and wonder.

When I refilled the tank, checking for overflow, Tic Tac meowed excitedly.

Together we peered into the tank, watching it fill, Tic Tac purring with pleasure. When it filled to the right level, and I put the lid back on, her blue eyes pleaded with me.

To indulge her, I touched the flush.

All cats go through a stage where they love toilet flushing, and so Tic Tac knew exactly what to do.

She jumped to the floor, stood on her back paws as I lifted the seat, and we counted down from three to add to the thrill.

That incident reignited Tic Tac’s passion. She reverted to kitten habits, stalking us carefully and insisting on accompanying us to the bathroom. Each time we let the water cascade for her, she squeals with joy.

This is typical of cats. When you do something interesting once, the cats will be all over it. If you do it twice, it’s a tradition. You’re locked in, committed to repeating the ritual.

But while some traditions, like Target’s cuddle sessions, are written in stone, most of the others – toilet-flushing, tissue-ripping, ping-pong football and feather duster-biting – are passions that come in and out of fashion.

While some traditions start by accident, we sometimes foster cat hobbies, like taking out the duster from time to time.

However, there is one area where we have to tread carefully: Food.

While Target snoozes, Inkie is ever alert.While Target snoozes, Inkie is ever alert.

All three cats are united in their belief that quality of life increases proportionally to the amount of meals and treats they can score.

We believe that a little prosperity is good, but too much leads to health issues.

As a result, we’re waging a constant battle with cats trying to impose new food traditions. I have to report that whereas the bipeds are honest, the furries have no compunction about cheating.

Take last weekend. As Tom has healed from his eye operations, he has his sight and depth perception back. So he woke up early, and went for a walk.

As the cats decided to celebrate with an early breakfast, Tom put out the bowls.

However, knowing that Target, Tic Tac and Inkie are masters of the fake-out, he left the empty packet propped up against the coffee pot.

Sure enough, when I came downstairs, all three furries fell into their routine, pretending starvation. They were shameless and even had the cheek to sulk when I waved the empty packet at them.

We bipeds crowed over this, thinking we had the upper hand. But we should have remembered that Inkie is tricky.

We’ve lived with some clever cats – Scoop and Au were feline Einsteins – but although they were inventive, they were mostly straight shooters.

Our Inkie is different. Underneath that sweetly sleepy exterior, he is a master of Machiavellian cunning.

When Target treated him with aloofness, Inkie waited, watched, and then ran a quiet campaign aimed at getting through the old boy's defences.

It took him weeks, but Inkie inched under Target’s guard steadily and carefully. We realised this weekend how effective he is when our giant tuxie jumped up on the red chair, stepped over a snoozing Target, and parked his massive bum right on top of the older cat.

We watched, certain there’d be whappy paws, but Target merely opened one eye and shut it again, accepting the situation.

As I said, we should have remembered that Inkie is subtle. However, carried away by the minor triumph of avoiding a second breakfast, we foolishly dropped our guard.

While Target and Tic Tac tried begging, taking turns in lying to us about neglect and starvation, Inkie thought it all through, and came up with a new plan.

In our home, we have first cat dinner at five and second dinner at seven. It’s a fixed tradition.

Inkie waited till Saturday, the day we go shopping and then to the pub.

The moment I put on lipstick and shoes, Inkie rushed over. Pantomiming that he was bound to starve while we were out having fun, I fed him an early dinner at four.

That was fine, and we had a second dinner when we returned at seven.

However, the next day, Inkie trotted up at four. As he went into his act, Target came over, convinced we were going out again. Then Tic Tac rushed over too.

Faced with three cats, I made a fatal error and caved.

Having established the new dinner time was now four, Inkie then hit me up for second dinner at five, also a proper hour, and then I had Target and Tic Tac demanding dinner at seven, also a proper time.

And this is how our cunning Inkie leveraged tradition against us!

I maintain that dinner is at five and seven on normal days, and four and eight when we go out. But the cats are firm in agreeing we should now have three dinners – at four, five and seven.

I’m resisting but given our track record for holding out against the cats is dismal, I expect Inkie will declare victory by Christmas.

Adopt Me

GD is three months old, slightly small in frame but big in fighting spirit. He’s had his first vaccination but is too small still be neutered.

GD was rescued dramatically from the train station. He is the only survivor of three siblings.

GD is a sweet boy. Photo: Sherrina Krishnan GD is a sweet boy. Photo: Sherrina Krishnan

This boy is very affectionate as he was raised by human mothers. He follows you everywhere, wanting constant cuddles and kisses. He’s a playful mellow little fellow.

Interested adopters please contact Sherrina Krishnan at 012-2026384 in Damansara Damai, Petaling Jaya.

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Cats , pets , cat behaviour , cat diet , cat food


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