Sammy, our ancient rescue cat, is becoming increasingly picky in his dotage. Firstly, there is the matter of his pills. We get these absolutely magical things called 'Pill Pockets' from a site in the US. They're little balls of salmon-flavoured plasticene (I am only going by the flavour on the packet here folks, I've not actually tasted one) with a hole punched in the middle.
These things are a life-saver given the volume and variety of tablets rattling around in our old puss at any given moment. You shove pills inside them, pinch the hole shut and it's down in one. Sammy loves them but he's always been a bit funny about where he'll eat them. Usually he had to be beside the armchair but he'd sometimes take one on his cushion or near the rug. Now he has to be under a table and offered the damn thing three times. Sometimes he'll only eat it if I have warmed it up first in my sweaty, frustrated little palms.
Secondly there is the issue of his regular meals. He's always flip-flopped between favourite foods but these days he has to eat whatever we give him within 10 minutes or it's 'too old' and he will starve rather than touch it again. It can't be the same food more than once and sometimes he has to have his bowl on the sofa, other times under a table; others we have to move it a foot to the right to be near the door. Until we nailed it, you have no idea the amount of cat-food that was going to waste in this house given that he needs 5 meals a day to asuage his raging thyroid-induced hunger (we've downed his dosage to protect his kidneys and his pill routine requires it's own calendar). The food-dance is becoming pretty overwhelming, sometimes we have three separate flavours of cat food in the fridge plus fish, cheese, yoghurt and raw eggs all waiting in the wings.
Today, for example I brought him home some salmon that the spud had refused for lunch and Sammy would only eat it on the sofa from a flat dish or, better still, from my fingers. I put it in his regular bowl and he just sat looking both downcast and expectant until I lifted a piece out; where-upon he wolfed it down, his nose inches from his salmon-stuffed bowl.
Discovering his hidden needs was all trial and error stuff as he wasn't kind enough to inform us in writing and it took weeks. He would regularly go without food because we hadn't worked out his requirements - whole bowls of fresh, quality food were going to waste while he lapped up some water and regarded us balefully. We spent several weeks chasing him around the house with a series of different foods in different vessels before he revealed all his terms. Now that we know what to to it's a major relief as for the most part he is no longer getting us up at 4am because he is starving and we can feed him at midnight (when he will eat in the kitchen) which normally gets him through until 8.
It's not all good news though. The frog has just filled his regular bowl with new catfood and gone to bed. Sammy is waiting patiently under the dining room table, looking put out. I sense he's changing his terms again. Could be a long night...