Finicky Felines Snub Nutrition For Taste

ALICE STEINBACH

August 22, 1991|By ALICE STEINBACH

Friday night, 11 p.m.: I'm afraid I behaved badly this morning when my cat, Max, refused to eat his alfalfa sprouts. But in all fairness to me, the cat was asking -- no, he was begging -- for it.

Look: I'd held back earlier in the day when Max had turned up his nose at the homemade chicken broth laced with carrots and zucchini. And I thought I showed considerable restraint last night when Max attacked my ankles after refusing his bowl of oatmeal and chives.

But the alfalfa sprout thing drove me over the edge. I won't go into details about my somewhat reckless behavior except to say that the sight of Max wearing a little paper-cup dunce cap frightened his younger brother, Fluffy, into gobbling down his alfalfa sprouts like they were the feline equivalent of beluga caviar.

It was the vet's idea to switch Max and Fluffy from their normal all-you-can-eat, round-the-clock, junk food, anything-that-falls-on-the-kitchen-floor diet to a new and carefully regulated all-natural-homemade-food-with-vitamin pills-and-enzyme crystals diet. Max, after all, isn't getting any younger. And Fluffy -- an orange-colored Maine coon cat whom )) the mailman mistook last week for a basketball -- could stand to drop a few pounds.

But I gotta tell you: I'm not looking forward to the guilt trip those two small, but ominous, figures crouching under the table are about to lay on me. I think I'd better eat my frozen creamed chicken dinner with dumplings in the bathroom, behind closed doors.

Saturday, 8 p.m.: What a day! It started with both cats refusing to even go near their bowls of seaweed marinated in vitamin E. Nothing -- not even pretending my breakfast of sour cream blintzes was really a delicious seaweed and vitamin E dish -- could budge them from the top of the refrigerator.

Lunchtime brought its own trials. After spending most of the morning cooking a batch of chicken necks, yams and broccoli, I arranged small portions of the mixture -- in a rather nouvelle cuisinist way, I thought -- on brand new Morris-the-Cat plates. But for some reason, neither cat would come into the kitchen.

It took all my powers of persuasion -- plus a catnip trail leading to the kitchen -- to lure Max and Fluffy out from the linen closet where they were holed up.

Once in the kitchen, they made a beeline for my lunch -- a double cheeseburger, french fries and chocolate shake -- which I foolishly had left on the kitchen table. Max and Fluffy dug in. The lunch vanished in seconds. It was like watching piranhas go after the bad guy in a James Bond movie. Afterwards, Max and Fluffy -- both wearing that peculiar, little cat expression that looks like a smile -- fell into a deep, six-hour sleep.

Hungry and tired myself, I thought about eating a portion of the homemade chicken neck-broccoli-yams lunch but instead eat three frozen Milky Ways washed down by a diet grape soda.

Exhausted, I took a nap. Dreamt I was being pureed in a giant, glass blender. Looking out through the glass, I see a huge, white paw holding down button marked "Puree."

Sunday, 3 p.m.: Am getting ready to turn in for the night. It's been a long day.

It started early this morning when small but noisy cat fights broke out on the other side of my bedroom door. Decided to get up and give Max and Fluffy the first of their four daily vitamin pills.

Put on old terry cloth bathrobe, canvas gloves, heavy knee socks and hi-top sneakers -- standard operating garb for pill-giving to Max and Fluffy. And then over that, put on green silk Victoria's Secret dressing gown -- a disguise to fool M. & F. who got hip to the terry cloth and canvas outfit when they were kittens.

What followed was not pretty. Suffice it to say I went through a dozen pills with only one actually ending up inside a cat. Lunchtime arrived. I got out the Zip-loc plastic bags containing -- yesterday's chicken neck mixture, and carefully concealed them behind a large can of 9 Lives Tuna.

I run the electric can opener, pretending to open tuna. Then I pretend to spoon tuna onto the plates, saying to the fur people: "No. You can't have this. This is not for you. It's for me." Finally, I serve them chicken neck mixture topped with a dollop of tuna. They eat the dollop of tuna.

It's been tough going. And it's going to get tougher. The vet says the next step is to add daily exercise to Max and Fluffy's schedule.

Which reminds me: I can't wait to see the look on their fuzzy faces when the tiny Stairmaster I ordered for them arrives. And, please, if you have any hints on the easiest way to put a leotard on a cat, call me. I'll be waiting.

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