Food for thought

Every morning, I wake up with the cat on my feet. That’s normal, for people who sleep with cats. But it’s become a source of terror for me, and I spend my first few moments contemplating my fear. What happens if I move my foot and the cat doesn’t? Finally, I get up my nerve and slowly slide my foot out from under her inert body. She twitches in response, and I breathe a sigh of relief. We have both lived another day.

Trying to get her to eat is my daily challenge. After a week without food, she finally consented to sip some of that magical elixir, tuna water. We even snuck some tuna into the water, and she ate that. But then she stopped, and we got desperate.

Perhaps the tuna water wasn’t fresh enough. We abandoned the open can in the fridge and opened another. And another. And … We talked with a good friend about the problem. “Try Fancy Feast. I don’t know what they put in there, but any cat will eat that stuff.” It worked for a couple of days. Now the half-full cans of Fancy Feast sit on top of the half-full tuna cans in the fridge. “Have you tried baby food?” asked the checker in the grocery store. Now there’s a half jar of baby food in there, too. Barry remembered a cat that lived to the ripe old age of 25 on cottage cheese. Prussia ate a teaspoon of the stuff. Now she has two shelves of half-eaten food in the fridge.

In the middle of respiratory bug that had me flat on my back for three days, I dragged myself into the kitchen, got out the saucepan, and set to work. I used tuna oil, butter, and flour to make a particularly odiferous (even with a stuffed-up nose) roux. I thinned it with fish and chicken stock and seasoned it with nutritional yeast, Prussia’s favorite. Then I spooned out a small dish of this “kitty gravy,” cooled it slightly, and presented it to the patient. She sighed, stood up on wobbly legs, and turned around, her backside facing the dish. “Suit yourself!” I harrumphed.

Barry and I are like anxious mother hens, using every excuse to go into the bedroom and check on her. She spends most of her days at the foot of our mattress on the floor, sleeping or sitting quietly. I try not to pester her, watching from the door until a twitching tail or ear lets me know that it is still “business as usual.” Occasionally, she gets annoyed with the attention and retreats under another bed. Then I have to get all the way down on the floor to see her tiny dark form. She glances up at me, serene, making me feel like a total fool, groveling on my hands and knees after the cat.

She has always been a proud cat, strutting gracefully with both head and awe-inspiring tail held high. I’m sure that’s the way she’ll want to be remembered. Me, I’m not proud. Maybe I can get her to eat by crawling around on the carpet on my hands and knees with this jar of baby food in one hand and a spoon in the other. The poor cat will probably die laughing. And I’m sure she’ll remember me that way.