It’s official: cats like saltines. I’ve been feeling nauseated more and more frequently these days so I now keep a rack of saltines by my desk. This morning, my cat, Fish, jumped up and began eating the crumbs. She also eats lettuce, chocolate cupcakes, ham, and not surprisingly, the leftover milk from my cereal –though what is surprising is she never finishes it.
Yesterday afternoon, as I walked by her food bowl, she started crying. I looked down and saw half the food in it had been eaten. Her internal alarm seems to go off at about that point. She takes after her mother. I call it the shortage syndrome: a perpetual feeling that there’s not going to be enough, and a panic that I must get my fair share before it all runs out. The problem was, I’d filled Fish’s bowl only an hour earlier. She was clearly going through her food too fast. She actually has been gaining weight, probably because every time she empties half her bowl, she cries and either I or Bruce fill it, not paying attention to how long it had been since it was last filled.
But at this moment, I knew exactly when I’d filled it, and I knew if I indulged her, I was contributing to her getting fat. And so here I faced one of my first parenting dilemmas: you want to over-indulge them because you love them, but you don’t want them to grow up fat and spoiled. I watched my cat trying to eat what remained in her bowl, but her head was so big, she couldn’t seem to get at the food that remained on the far side of the bowl. And she’d already eaten all the food from the side she could reach.
Torn, I opened the cupboard door and got out her bag of Iams and took out a scoop –not a large one, but a scoop nonetheless- and I deposited in her bowl. I watched her voraciously attack it, snorting as she ate. Sometimes love gets in the way of good parenting.