After last week’s coastal berry run, I was all ready to segue to the bounty of local 650 apricots and plums. Our recent hot weather has got those babies ripening almost faster than we can harvest them! And then Little Cat got sick, tossing last week’s blogging schedule out the window.
When a little foodie cat goes off her food, something is very wrong. Little Cat’s not the gourmand that her brother, Boy Kitty, was. That kitty loved food — especially fruit! I couldn’t bite into an apple without Boy Kitty appearing out of nowhere (stealthy? oh yea.), ready to crawl all over me to get to his favorite food. Strawberries and cantaloupe were close second and third favorites (those Swanton berries would have made him very happy), along with boiled chicken and the good tuna in olive oil.
Little Cat, on the other hand, has always been much more, shall we say, “particular.” Oh, sure, she’ll get out of bed for boiled chicken and the good tuna, yet she’s never had Boy Kitty’s love of food — or so I thought. With Boy Kitty gone, she’s become more demanding about seeing what’s on my plate, even if she eventually turns up her nose and wanders off. Grilled swordfish seems to have struck a chord with her (yes, she will eat it off my plate if I’m not looking), as has halibut. Wild salmon? Eh, she’ll take it or leave it. And vegetables? Forget it! She’s not exactly a kitten, so the vet says “let her eat whatever she wants.” That means she gets a good diet of quality kitty food, supplemented with the occasional treat of sustainable fish or boiled organic chicken.
Just as I would with human family members, I offer whatever tasty treat might make her feel better when she’s a little under the weather. So last week when she stopped demanding treats, or even a look-see of my dinner plate, and took to her bed, I got worried. Fortunately, after several trips to the kitty hospital, including a day in ICU, Little Cat’s health is much improved.
Turns out the saving grace in getting her to eat again was not grilled swordfish or carefully selected organic cat food, but — wait for it — baby food. A simple purée of beef and beef broth in a jar. Now, after a week of silence, I’m again greeted with loud demands for snacks and meow-ish for “whatchoo got, mama?” every time I walk out of the kitchen. (Seriously, have you ever been yelled at by a six-pound cat? Funny and absurd all at the same time.)
Interesting that the tip-off for her illness, and essential to her improved health, has been, well, food. As is true for people, food can comfort and heal the four-footed family members. I’d like to thank the kitty hospital ICU folks (I think) for introducing Little Cat to Beechnut beef baby food, aka “crack for Little Cat.” While I’m happy to have her eating something — anything — I had no idea how hard it is to find plain old puréed beef or chicken baby food without added ingredients. You know, just a single food item, puréed with a bit of water?
I learned more about baby food in the past week than I have in the past decade. For example, a baby-food manufacturer whose name starts with “G” holds most of the grocery-store shelf space, but their single flavors are made with — get this — cornstarch. Good thing I’m a label-reader, or I would have just bought this stuff. I could make some cheesy comment about babies being sweet enough, etc., etc., but what boggles the mind is: Why on earth does baby food need cornstarch? I’ve raised babies of the four-footed kind, so I’m no expert on food for small humans, but it seems that a sweet thickening agent is unnecessary for little people. And what’s up with all the single-ingredient sweet purées: applesauce, pears, sweet potatoes? So many choices for… sugar.
As for Little Cat, I’m happy to indulge her new kitty crack habit, although I had to hit up four stores before I could find this magical treat. (Again, why so hard to find something so simple?) Baby food: who knew? Cheaper than the fancy-schmancy organic cat food I was buying, and Little Cat is eating it like a fiend.
What do you feed your four-footed family members? Do you think the quality of their food makes a difference in their well-being?