Chester went on a hunger strike. Total, complete, hard core hunger strike.
Y’all know I got a cat back in February, right?
My heart went out to him. He was cared for and largely accommodated, but his previous owners were over it. They said he was an asshole. They are my friends and I love them, so no judgments about the reasons why. But during my weekend visit, I became convinced that the cat would have a better go of it if he lived with me. So I brought him home to Birmingham.
Because of the massive success of my raw food experiences with the Pugs, I tried to force a transition to raw for Chester from the start. But he would have none of it.
He flatly refused all things fresh, whether raw or cooked.
I tried EVERYTHING. Chicken, turkey, fish, beef, quail, chicken livers, chicken broth, fish stock, goat milk, eggs, raw fish, canned organic fresh water sardines. Even smoked salmon.
He turned his back, flipped his tail with terrific disdain and looked down his nose at my high-quality, organic, free-range whatever. He said that I and my Bourgeois approach to cat food could kiss his ass. He was raised on junk food and is wedded to it for better or for worse. Till death do us part.
So, I backed off for a few months. I wanted to give him some time to transition to his new environment in a new house with new dogs and a new person.
I took him to acupuncture. I fed him high quality canned and dry food. I bought fancy, overpriced litter. I mixed powdered herbs in coconut oil and put it on his paws to help his tummy. I bought him a flea collar and let him hang out in my enclosed backyard to watch the birds and squirrels.
He adjusted successfully. He was solid. He gained a little weight. He was shedding much less. The hairballs were fewer and farther between. He purred often and loudly. He lovingly licked my eyelids while I slept (which woke me up and pissed me off at first, but I eventually learned to accept his love language).
Couldn’t leave well enough alone, though, could I?
I had spoken with my neighbor who successfully switched his 18-year-old cat to raw when she began having health problems after a lifetime on Meow Mix. He said after a day or two of no other option, she ate it, and arrested her health issues while regaining some vitality. He was a convert and encouraged me to practice a little tough love.
That was all I needed to hear. I came down with a raging case of the by-Gods. I would switch this cat to raw or die trying!
I bought two raw food options. One frozen (Stella & Chewy’s) and one freeze dried (Sojos).
I tried the Stella & Chewy’s first. I thawed it under a heat lamp. I poured fresh goat milk over it. And for two days straight, he sniffed it and walked away.
So then I thought Sojos might be more appealing. I mixed it with warm, homemade broth instead of water. I coo-ed to him and scratched his chin while I lovingly placed it before him in a beautiful cut-glass bowl. I mean, it was a frickin’ Friskies commercial if there ever was one. I could hear music in the background and the announcer’s voice in my head telling the world how I feed my cat with love.
He sniffed it and walked away.
Beginning to see why his former owners said he was an asshole). Sweet kitty.
I left it out for him in case he changed his mind. After all, we were at the end of Day 3 and he hadn’t had a morsel. He dropped weight. His sides were concave. His hair began to fall out. The litter box was clean, unused. He was miserable.
He caterwauled throughout the house during the night. I’m hungry!
He crawled all over me and smacked me in the face with his paw. Feed me, dammit!
Every time I entered the kitchen, he was pacing the counters, wailing to the tune of his hunger pangs. Don’t you love me anymore? It truly was gut wrenching for the both of us.
Still, he refused to eat.
Because the food was fresh and raw, the ants came marching two-by-two, hurrah.
At the end of Day 4, he finally condescended to nibble the Sojos.
I WON! I WON!!, I rejoiced. I did a happy dance. I texted the video of it to my friends. I DID IT! I AM AWESOME!
But the joy was short lived.
After only the slightest dent in the bowl, he walked away…
When he once again refused to eat on the morning of Day 5, I caved. He really was looking quite haggard, and I was about to go out of town for several days. Also, I was beginning to feel like Liningen. So I went back to the canned and dry.
Sometimes tough love is not the answer. Sometimes, you just have to play the hand you’re dealt.
Chester has put his weight back on. We’re all sleeping more soundly, and he is content with his options. Organix canned food, and Pure Vita dry. Both grain-free. That’ll simply have to do.