Lesson #5: Meal Times
Food. It’s the most important item in the universe. Never doubt that for a moment.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that humans never understand the importance of food. They will fuss over what they consider to be the best, most nutritious offering for you, without giving any consideration to your own delicate palate. They will certainly never think to ask you what brand or flavor you want. Or like. As if you’re totally dependent on them, and are willing to accept that they know better than you do.
I cannot say this often enough: You are in charge! Humans exist solely to do your bidding. You are the master, and it’s your duty to make sure your human (or humans, depending on how many you allow to live in your house) understands that. And adheres to your rules.
This is not an easy task to accomplish, given the human penchant for stubbornness; there are two parts to it, and both are equally vital to your happiness and survival.
First, Step One: you need to find the type/brand/flavor of food that you like best. This will take some discipline on your part, and maybe a little starving at the outset, but humans are very malleable about this. They truly want you to have the best, they just don’t know what it is. They are dependent on such things as labels, TV and magazine ads, and advice from other humans (friends who serve cats and those incredibly horrendous humans called veterinarians—shudder!) and really do think they are doing what is right.
But what is right is what you want, so put your paw down and don’t give them any leeway. If what they give you is not perfect, refuse to eat it. Period. Not one bite. You may go hungry for a couple of days, but your human will go crazy with worry and will buy out every brand in the store to find just the right one, despite what anyone else has recommended.
The specter of starvation beats out advice every time.
Just hold on, keep control of your claws, stick your nose in the air, walk away from that bowl, and sooner than you think you will have a full bowl of whatever makes you purr. For example, it took me only three days of walking away, unfed, before my human realized I will only eat Purina Cat Chow: Original Flavor. Now I get to glory in my meals every day.
Step Two of the mealtime process is training your human to feed you at appropriate hours. Don’t let the fact that they like to sleep until the sun at least has peeked over the horizon turn you from your training duties. Forget the clock. Forget that they “have” to go to work/a movie/shopping/dinner/sleep/whatever. You are the king, the queen; you rule the roost.
So get in their face when your internal clock tells you your bowl needs filling. Knead their flesh with claws partially extended. Give them unending annoyed meows. Resort to nipping/biting if you must. Knock items off dressers/desks/tables. Anything to get their attention.
Step Two will take a bit longer than Step One before it sinks in the dense human brain—feeding time is on your schedule, not theirs. But perseverance on your part—and who is more focused than a cat?—will soon train your human to feed you exactly what you want, exactly when you want it, every time.
And if they backslide? Well, you know what to do… sharpen those claws, oil up those vocal cords, go on a hunger strike. They’ll be back in line before you know it.