I have a fat cat and a slender cat. And three other cats. (One of them is super ripped. We imagine her doing sit-ups while we sleep so she can get buff and keep the younger cats submissive. It’s working.)
Anyway, we have a fat cat…
…and a slim cat.
The fat cat is Oreo. She is named after a delicious cookie. She never had a chance. The thin cat is named Starfire. She’s always been tiny.
Anywho, we wanted to put Oreo on a diet because that level of pudge isn’t healthy for a cat and what with her and Quinn’s weird (so, so fucking weird) and absolute codependence, she can never die. To facilitate this, we asked the vet how to trim her down.
We feed our cats canned food morning and night (not a lot, but some) and free feed them kibble during the day. The vet suggested we only leave the kibble out for an hour or so in the morning and the evening. Which we did.
None of the cats much appreciated not having access to food at all hours of the day, but I was more concerned about Starfire than anyone. I kind of feel that she needs to have the ability to eat whenever she wants to. I mean, she is practically emaciated. When we restricted her food, she started doing things like eating crumbs and leaves off of the floor.
Because we didn’t want to starve Starfire to death and much to all five cats’ relief, we returned to our freefeeding ways.
Then one day I was sitting in the vet waiting room flipping through a magazine when I came across an ad for the SureFeed microchip feeding system. This “pet food bowl” or “bizarre archway to lunch” has a lid that folds back when it recognizes the microchip from a specific pet.
This was the answer! The pet shelter where we got our cats microchips all of their animals, so Starfire was all ready for this system. Once we purchased this bowl, Starfire could eat whenever she wanted to and Oreo could not.
We bought the bowl and I set about to reading the instructions, which were hilarious for many reasons, first of which is that they were very law and order with instructions that started with “If the pet is authorised and allowed to eat…”
Also you can tell that the instructions are fancy because they use an “s” in “authorized” instead of a “z.” Furthermore, this instruction book was clearly not written by someone whose first language is English, leading to fun subject headings like “Learning your pet into the feeder,” which is really just a couple of typos away from becoming some sort of animal horror snuff film.
There is a whole process involved in teaching your authorised pet to eat from this thing, first of which is getting the bowl to recognize that (and only that) cat. The way to do that is to push the “add pet” button on the back and then wait for your thin cat to poke her head through the arch while you lurk around trying not to scare her away from the feeder at the same time that you do try to scare away the unauthorised cat.
I didn’t want to stuff Starfire through the thing, thus ensuring that she would freak out and never go near the bowl again, but the instruction book told me that “no amount of waving your pet in front of the feeder will have an effect,” which could just have easily said, “Don’t be a dumbass about this, Stimey.”
I spent the better part of the day lurking near the food bowl with no success until my actions motivated Sam to prove he was better than me by luring Starfire into the archway, causing the bowl to recognize her. I was so relieved that he’d done it that I couldn’t even be annoyed by his smug little attitude.
I only added Starfire to the bowl because, let’s be honest, none of the rest of the animals really need to snack throughout the day. If I’d wanted to though, I could have added up to 32 pets as authorised eaters. I have lots of thoughts about someone who would need 32 pets on this thing. I also have thoughts about how sad it would be to be the 33rd pet.
My favorite part of the instructions, however, was one sentence about the cat this bowl is designed to keep out. It didn’t speak of the cat with the medically sensitive diet or the cat with slight self-control issues. It flat out fat shamed the fuck out of Oreo:
“If an unauthorised greedy pet tries to eat from the feeder when the lid is closed then the lid will simply not open.”
I like the lack of comma there which implies that the subject is a “greedy pet” modified by “unauthorised,” as opposed to a normal pet, modified by both “unauthorised” and “greedy.”
We spent close to a month moving through the training stages. At first you just leave the lid open, then you set it so it closes just a little, then more, then more and more. It’s pretty clever actually, getting them used to the short noise and movement gradually in something like five increments.
Two days ago, we were ready. I pushed the button that closed the lid on the bowl and waited to see if Starfire would manage to open the bowl and if Oreo would lose her shit completely. Yes on both counts.
Poor Oreo. I watched her look carefully through the clear plastic lid to the food beneath. She sniffed the feeder. She moved around to the front and nudged it with her nose. Clearly, she thought, this is broken. Somebody should fix this.
Then she clawed at the lid. She tried to bite the lid open. She stood on top of it to investigate the back of the lid perhaps in hopes that the open part was now on the back. Then she clawed and bit at the front of it again.
It was sad. I too have been pudgy and hungry myself and it sucks.
I literally just now heard the bowl open and I looked into the feeding area only to see Oreo kind of nudging Starfire out of the way so she could get to the food. She got just about one mouthful before the lid shut on her.
Again, very sad.
Maybe if you could be less greedy and unauthorised, you could eat at lunchtime too, Oreo.
I’m so glad I am not a cat, subject to the whims and laughter of my owners.