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August 16, 2002: And in this corner...

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The Contenders

One cat, 12 years old, tortoiseshell (oh boy is she tortoiseshell), weighing barely 8 pounds, after losing an entire pound over the course of a year, reasons unknown.

One human, adult female, determined (that would be me) to get said cat to eat more and gain back some of that lost weight because she's much too thin and can't afford to lose any more.

Attempt #1

I try canned food. Of course since I can't give canned food to the other six on a daily basis, canned food goes on plate, and food, plate, and cat all go into the bathroom.

Day 1: 1/3 small can consumed (this amounts to several bites, if that).

Day 2: Cat screams and dashes out the bathroom door

Day 3: Cat eyes food with horror and disgust and refuses to touch it

Day 4: Cat will not even deign to *look* at canned food on plate in bathroom and spends entire time in bathroom yelling for rescue.

Day 5: Cat is offered canned food on the kitchen counter. Cat eyes food in horror and bolts out of the room.

Attempt #2

I try baby food. It's nice and bland, easy to stuff down the throat of even the most recalcitrant of cats. Having learned my lesson with trying to isolate the cat and her food, I dump the baby food on a plate and put it on the kitchen counter, cleverly dabbing it on her nose so she is forced to at least taste it.

Day 1: Cat turns up nose at food and leaps to the floor

Day 2: Cat hastily spits out finger-glob of baby food onto human and leaps onto floor

Day 3: Cat hears baby food jar opening and hides, incensed.

Attempt #3

A few nights ago, we are eating leftover fajitas. She jumps onto the dining room table (you know, the table where the cats aren't allowed to be (cough cough ha ha)). She eyes my plate. I eye her. I offer her some of my chicken. She inhales. Bingo! We have a match. I go to the store and purchase bag of frozen chicken parts. I cook one small part and then proceed to shred it into little pieces and season liberally with butter (always a cat-pleaser). I put chicken on plate and offer to cat. Cat wrinkles nose in disgust.

But wait. I know what I did wrong this time. As dinner draws near, I bring the plate with the chicken to the table, and place it next to my own. Near the end of the meal, she jumps onto the table and I offer her a piece from "my" plate. She nibbles. I offer her more. She eats. I offer her the plate. She takes two dainty bites and then backs away, sensing my intentions. I resume hand feeding her. She continues to eat teeny pieces, backing slowly across the table until with each bite I am nearly prone across the table to reach her. She finally has enough and leaves in disgust, perching on the windowsill and making sure to turn her head away from me so that I am well aware that I am being snubbed.

Dinner is over and I am faced with several scraps of leftover chicken, and a small group of cats who are milling around my ankles, insisting that even if *she* doesn't want it, they'd be happy to help me make it go away. Shrugging, I start to offer them the chicken. The instant she realizes that the other cats are getting food, she who was so recently snubbing me expresses interest again (but of course I have to *bring* her the chicken).

Tally

I'm calling this one a draw for now. She's eating dry food - I've seen her. She's got energy; she's active enough to leap up to the top of the refrigerator so as to better glare at me from on high. She's just too thin. For now, I shall accept defeat. But there is a scale on the kitchen counter and she's going to be sitting on that scale every few weeks. And if the numbers drop any further, next time I might not be so willing to let her win.

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