Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fancy Feast

When my cat began having trouble with her thyroid last year, I began buying Fancy Feast to coerce her into taking her medicine. Until then, she only ate kibble -- but I found if I dribbled her liquid medicine into Fancy Feast, she’d eat it without hesitation, and I didn’t have to wrestle a dropper into her mouth.

After her treatment -- which eliminated the need for medicine -- I kept giving her Fancy Feast every morning, in addition to her omnipresent dry food. She likes Fancy Feast so much, and I think the moisture is good for her kidneys, which aren’t the greatest these days. (She’s 13.)

We’ve developed a very funny routine. Every morning, right around 5 a.m., she begins to get excited. Sometimes she’ll run around the house and jump on me. Or if she’s lying next to me, she’s like a coiled spring -- at the slightest movement from me, she leaps up and runs to the kitchen. She knows she’s going to get fed.

But sometimes, despite all the excitement, she’s not even hungry. I’ll put her Fancy Feast down, and she’ll walk over and look at it. She might take a few bites and walk away, returning to it periodically through the morning until it’s finished. Or, if it’s a type with gravy, she almost always eats the gravy immediately and leaves the rest for later.

Looking at this through my Buddhist lens, it seems so illustrative of desire. We think we really want something, and then when we get it, we find we don’t want it so badly after all. Sometimes we’re not even sure what to do with it. The fact that my cat experiences this shows that it’s really ingrained in all beings -- she wants her Fancy Feast because “it’s time,” it’s her habit, not because she’s hungry.

Isn’t that how we look at a lot of things in life? I want a better job because “it’s time.” I want a relationship because “I should have one by now.” But do we really want these things, or do we just think we do? Are they our Fancy Feast?

(Photo: Chelsea, Oct. 2008)


  1. Fancy feasts are only tangentially about the food itself, at least that's my experience. Fancy feasts are about gathering with others, engaging in conversation, toasting and good cheer. Your cat has it down pat!

    As for we humans, oh we are SO complicated. Sometimes it really IS time for a better job.

    Anytime "should" is used in a sentence, look out! That's all about judgment and doesn't reflect sincere desires, at least that's my opinion.

    Today's pic is exquisite!!

  2. This is such a thought-provoking post. I found myself examining my own life to find those places where I'm going through the motions because they are habit, but not really enjoying the result. Perhaps these are the places where change is needed so that our Fancy Feet don't get stuck!

    Maybe for your cat just the memory of liking to eat is enough to excite her. Sounds rather Pavlovian, yes?

  3. ah fancy feast as a metaphor for life and the human condition. priceless.

    some tasty food for thought her steve! thanks.

  4. What's the old saying, if you eat enough lobster it begins to taste like soap? Fancy Feast must be the cat version.

  5. Dave Barry once told a story about how his dogs continued to go outside and wait to be let out of the porch, when the porch itself had BLOWN AWAY in a hurricane and all that was left was the door and the floor. No walls, but they waited at the door anyway!

    Sometimes the ritual is more important than what's accomplished in the task, I guess. I wonder if the kitty's is to get you out of bed more than to eat?

  6. Oh are missing the point completely...Your cat needs the feast to reload her amunition for the next furniture 'accident'! The real nexus between her Fancy Feast prancing actions and those greater observations that you make, is simply one of resource management. That is, it is always important to be loaded and ready to go just in case the very modern american need to crap on somebody else presents itself. Just keep her off my pillow!...and my shoes!

    And the Fancy Feast preference exists only to make the experience that much more disgusting!

  7. quote the immortal Homer "Gravy...mmmm...gravy". I feel quite envious of my cat that she gets herself into such paroxysms of anticipatory glee at the thought of breakfast.

    I suppose I think that discomfort comes around and again comes around (to mangle Wallace Stevens) and yet there are instances where discomfort (or agony) are indications to change something. For me it's the deciding which actions are coming from a place of mature judgement and which ones are frantic flailing around that is the difficulty.

  8. My Mr. Zaybel loves to hide just as we are leaving the weekend house. I swear he gets underfoot as we are packing, then disappears until we are running through the house looking for him. It's all great fun, as far as he is concerned!

    I've been reading about circadian rhythms and why we get up, go to sleep and want to eat when we do. We are certainly creatures of habits, both good and bad. This is why I get up at 6am, even on weekends, don't want to get off my circadians! ::smile:::

  9. How great a post is this? Nothing is more Zen than a a kitty. Truly.

  10. but perhaps she just wants you to get up so that she can have a snigger at your little legs

  11. Ah yes...your questions are spot on!

  12. ooo what a great post and the comments make me think and laugh

    habit can sound bad but ritual can sound much better - whats the difference between them?

    (isn't pod rude and flippant?)

  13. I love this!
    My precious angels also enjoy their Fancy Feast (says Salty the crazy cat lady) :)

  14. Re cats and foods: they all seem to love Fancy Feast - it's like the MacDonald's of cat food. But I suppose that anything gets old after a while if you have it every day.

    Re the bigger question: whoo boy, did my insides do a little lurch when I read that one! Seems to me that many people (myself included, at times) find it difficult to simply be where they are and instead keep longing for someone or something else to "fix" their lives. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all learn to be happy in the moment, just exactly where we are?