Monday, 1 April 2013

Why I Feed My Cat in the Toilet

Of my two cats, Mouth is the dominant one.

I have no idea how this happened.

He is far jumpier and wimpier than Tail. When we got them both, he was smaller than her, too. I can only think Tail didn't want to be boss.

Being Top Cat means that Mouth starts eating his dinner first, and he gets to lick out Tail's bowl when she's finished. The bowl lick is strictly symbolic - Tail wouldn't dream of leaving any scraps.

Last week, however, a strange thing happened.

We've always fed both cats in the hallway, which has a nice wipeable laminate floor. Tail's bowl is at the end of the hall near the lounge, and Mouth's bowl goes by the kitchen door, like this.

This has never been a problem.

But last week, at dinnertime, I heard an odd growly noise.

It was no ordinary Oi, Tiddles, get out of my garden growl. It wasn't even the lesser-spotted THERE IS A NOISE AND I DON'T LIKE IT growl. This growl was deafening. There are no windows in my hallway, but I pictured neighbours clutching their children and adjusting their picture frames. Extreme weather warnings would soon start appearing on TV.

I went to investigate.

Mouth was bolting his food and growling. It was the most absurd thing I have ever seen a cat doing, and I have seen cats do some extremely absurd things. (My parents' cat once woke itself up by sleep-miaowing.)

"Oh dear, Mouth," I said. I knew this day would come. Life is a continuous struggle for a creature of Mouth's simplicity, and he had finally broken himself.

I tried picking the bowl up and putting it down again. The growling resumed with renewed vigour.

I tried moving it along the hallway. No change.

Tail had abandoned her portion of whitefish and was watching with interest.

There was nothing I could do but spectate as Mouth inhaled the remainder of his dinner, then moved onto Tail's.

Tail looked up at me, stricken.

"No, Mouth," I said, shooing him away from Tail's bowl, but Tail didn't want it anymore. It was evidently besmirched with boy germs.

Washing up both bowls, I had a think. I'd read a few books on cat psychology, but Mouth was a law unto himself. Perhaps he had spontaneously decided that the hallway was a terrifying place.

To be on the safe side, for their next meal, I shut Mouth in the downstairs loo. It was a warm, quiet room where he could eat undisturbed.

It meant Tail could get on with her dinner in the hallway, uninterrupted by tabby-shaped hoovers.

With painstaking care, I knelt down and peered under the door at Mouth.

The growling continued, but it lacked conviction.

As I'd hoped, it dwindled as the meal progressed.

Eventually, it was replaced by the happy lip-smacking grunts of a feline polishing off his final few mouthfuls of Whiskas.

When the grunts had given way to a noise that could only mean Mouth was cleaning his bottom, and Tail had devoured every last morsel of her rabbit-flavoured supper, I opened the door to the downstairs loo.

A newly refreshed, confident Mouth strolled out, fully recovered from his growly episode and ready to take on the world.

He seemed none the worse for it, but ever since then he has expected to eat his dinner in the downstairs loo.

I don't question it. I just put his food in there, and do my best to remember to let him out afterwards.

Tail accepts this state of affairs.

I love Mouth dearly, but I don't pretend to understand him.


  1. if you are asking what might be wrong.. nearest I can guess is that he's getting food aggressive possibly from not getting enough food lately..I say this only because I will often have kittens that start to get food aggressive and all I have to do is over feed them for a few days and it abates.. so there for it is only a wild guess and probably has nothing to do with Mouth :)

    Btw, if you want more comments, you might want to look into removing word verification from your comments. A lot of people refuse to comment on blogs that have word verification because they find it very difficult.

    1. Hey, thanks for the advice! :)

      Yes, I've been trying to think what caused this, although Mouth seems much happier now we feed him in a different room. I don't think it can be that he's not getting enough food because he's not exactly wasting away (he's already on a 'light' diet to lose a bit of weight, which is working well), and nothing has changed food-wise in at least a year. Judging by his behaviour - bolting his food so he can eat Tail's - it could be a dominance thing. In any case, I'll mention it to the vet next time we're in!

      Thanks for the tip about word verification, by the way! I have no idea what it is, but I found a way to turn it off, so hurrah!

    2. "Light" diets often leave kitties hungry.. they are often lower in protein and higher in fiber, which can leave kitties malnourished.. despite being fed what seems (and what you were told) is an appropriate amount.

  2. MOL! I think Tails form the Foster Kittens may have the answer -- it's the one I was going to suggest as well, having experienced growly-while-eating cats before. (Oh, and the word verification thing? I also agree with Tails there ;) )

    1. Thanks jmuhj! Good to know Mouth's not the only one! I'm pleased to say he's doing much better now.

      Word verification is now off. :)

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