Don’t do drugs. Everyone knows that, right? But it’s easier said than done. Ask my cat Lucy.
Lucy is a good cat. Oh sure, she has a slight tendency to bite things – people, paper, wooden railings.
You should have seen it before I re-painted it.
Lucy’s oral fixation extends to her eating habits. When she moved in with me nine years ago, she weighed eight pounds. Slowly but surely, she has done everything in her power to change that statistic. Last I checked, she was over thirteen pounds.
When I was a kid, our cats monitored their own food consumption. I thought all cats were like that. I didn’t realize – until Lucy – that some cats can’t handle the responsibility. Lucy is one of those cats.
A few months ago, Lucy stopped eating. For a cat of her proclivities, this was unheard of. We immediately took her to the vet, who pronounced that he had no idea what was wrong with her. The best bet was a trauma of some sort, but he wasn’t sure.
We were given an IV bag to make sure that she got enough fluids and electrolytes. It took both Melissa and me to pin her down and inject her with a needle to make sure she was hydrated and didn’t die. This went on for over a week. No one was happy – not us, not the vet (who still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her), and certainly not Lucy.
In an effort to get Lucy to eat on her own, the vet suggested we start feeding her wet food. I had always heard that dry food is better for cats, so I had never gone the wet food route. But she still wasn’t eating. I had to try something.
Lucy’s first can of wet food was a prescription brand from the vet’s office. She wasn’t having it. I’m sure it was impossibly bland and tasted like vitamin-flavored cardboard. It was clear we needed to do something a lot more enticing to get her to eat.
We needed to pull out the big guns.
Desperate for my cat to get better, I went to the store and bought a can of Fancy Feast. Oh yes, my friends. Fancy. Feast. If I’d known what was about to happen, I would have stashed the can back on the counter and run the other way. But I had to learn the hard way.
Needless to say, Lucy loved it. She gobbled it up like she’d forgotten all about the not-eating issue. In fact, she forgot about everything but the Fancy Feast.
Her life turned into an endless and constant quest for more crack Fancy Feast. Every time I went into the kitchen, Lucy followed me and loudly requested that I feed her. She tailed my heels like an expert cattle-roper, attempting to get me to reach into the cabinet and pull out a can of the good stuff. Never mind that I wouldn’t do it. Her vocal-proding and ankle-tailing continued unabated.
I wasn’t sure what to do. She was eating again, but only Fancy Feast. She wouldn’t touch her dry food or water, the old staple of her nutritional existence. If I cut off the crack, would she revert to her anorexic ways?
I had no choice but to find out. Our beloved Lucy had turned into a drug-fiend, driving us crazy with her incessant yowling and hyperactive ankle-tailing. After talking it over with Melissa, I realized that cold turkey was the only way to go. And by cold turkey, I do not mean a cold can of turkey-flavored Fancy Feast.
I mean no wet food. None. Nada.
So I did it. Woke up the next morning and put dry food in her bowl. And she tailed me, and she yowled, but I persisted. After an incredibly short period of time – like, a day – she started eating dry food again. And drinking water. Just like the old Lucy I knew and loved.
It was amazing.
And it reminded me something about addiction. Along with the high comes the anxiety of how to score more. I’m going to say that again. Along with the high comes the anxiety of how to score more. It’s an anxiety that pulls you out of the present, out of the world, out of everything truly good and solid in your life.
That’s why addiction is never fun, no matter how many times you try to convince yourself that it is. I’ve learned this with sugar, my drug of choice. And Lucy, bless her little kitty heart, had to learn by a battle with Fancy Feast.
I’m just glad she’s back.
Addendum: Since this post was published, I have heard lots of information about the value of wet food for cats. Some of this information is in the comments below. Fancy Feast, however, is still in the Not-Awesome-For-Cats category. Sorry, Fancy Feast, you didn’t make the cut!
What are your addictions? What are the Fancy Feasts in your life?