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May 30, 2007

How do you explain recall to a cat?


Elaine Viets

You are looking at the picture of sorrow. It has just dawned on my cat Harry that his beloved stinky fish has been recalled. He will never again eat that smelly mess.

"Stinky fish" is the family name for Harry’s favorite food: Hill's Science Diet ocean fish for kittens.

Most pet food seems designed for cat owners. It’s made to look like something you’d put on a party cracker.

Stinky fish stunk. It was redolent of a Dumpster on a summer day. Harry adored it. He craved his treat the way I enjoy Lindt dark chocolate.

How would I look if the world’s chocolate supply had been recalled?

Check out Harry.

At first the recall was only for dry food. Harry’s favorite treat was safe. But then Harry’s Science Diet brand was added to the banned list. We had four cans in the cabinet, none with bad numbers. We scoured the pet food stores for more, but there wasn’t any.

Each night, we fed Harry another spoonful, knowing his world would soon change for the worse.

"Six more nights, buddy," we told him. He had no idea what we meant.

"What are we going to do?" I asked Don.

We aren’t the sort of pet people who brag about spoiling their animals – "My Pookie won’t eat anything but beef tenderloin." Harry was a cat. He ate cat food that cost 98 cents a can.

That can of cat food saved us major money.

Harry had a slight problem. Not too long ago, we took him to the vet because the cat was moping. The vet explained that Harry was . . . er, constipated. "He needs an enema," she said. "Can you leave him here?"

Better you than me, I thought, and added the warning. "If you have problems, please call."

The vet called a few hours later. "Harry is holding on to everything. I’m afraid you’ll have to take him home and let him use his litter box."

"Oh, no," I said. "We have leather car seats." The Florida roads were clogged with traffic. Our chances of getting Harry home were not good.

"He shouldn’t be on a dry food diet only," the vet said. "I can give you some medicine, or you can try introducing a little canned food twice a day. Otherwise, your cat will need frequent enemas."

"How much are those?" Don asked.

"Two hundred dollars," the vet said.

"Do you wear a Victorian costume for that price?" he said.

We could see the family finances going down the drain, gone for high colonics to the cat.

As we rushed home, we debated how to get the cat to eat canned food. Harry, like most felines, doesn’t like change. He turned down six brands before he would eat ocean fish for kittens. Then he rolled on the floor in ecstacy.

Now Science Diet was taking away the food he loved most.

We went back to the pet supermarket for a selection of canned foods in different brands. Harry didn’t like any of them. We saw vet bills looming.

For days, Don tried to coax Harry with new kinds of cat food. The stubborn cat stared glumly at his untouched dish. Mystery, our con artist in a cat suit, would rush in, distract Harry, and gobble down the new dish before he could try it. Harry was learning about survival of the fattest.

The cat food trials continued behind closed doors. Mystery was locked out during the fish auditions. Harry rejected more treats in private. Between meals, he sat in the kitchen and howled his displeasure: Where was his favorite fish?

One day Don brought home a can of Science Diet Indoor Cat Seafood Entree. We presented it to Harry, then shut the door. Soon we heard the happy banging of a spoon on cat crockery.


"The little bastard loves it," Don said.

Harry eats his new food twice a day. He’s happy. We’re happy. Harry is a regular guy.

How Do You Explain Recall to a Cat?


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Back in true form, girl! Loved this one.
No longer have cats in the condo but I can relate to the time when we had two (and later two more kittens)very different and picky eaters of the feline persuasion. Tender Vittles were their treats from the boring dry chow. And maybe an occassional left over spaghetti and meat sauce. You guys are such good parents!

Be well and welcomeback.

My cat was a strictly can food cat until a few months ago. Didn't matter what brand, just had to be canned. Now, he eats dry food with the occasional can thrown in. Still can't get him to eat any of those cat treats that are supposed to help with tartar control or anything else,though.

Elaine - so great to see you back!

We went through the cat with constipation thing several years ago. Same deal - several enemas, would not "go" at the vets. Had to bring him home finally, where he rushed into the little kitty potty room under the stairs and came out looking much happier.

We also went through the discontinuation of his favorite food. It wasn't from the recent massive recall, just the company decided not to make it any more. We had always gone with the moist dry food in the packets, and he liked the Beef. Well, they kept up with the Tuna and Gourmet (whatever that is) flavors, but discontinued the Beef. Indeed - how do you explain this to a cat?

So now we give him dry in the morning and a beef flavored can at night. He adores the cans, he's never been able to have them before. If you give him dry instead at night, he follows you all over the house complaining, and puts himself between you and the newspaper you're reading to express his dismay.

Hey - he's 16 years old - he deserves his can of beef.

Holy crow!

I thought it was bad when the kids went through the chicken tenders and mac & cheese phase.

Elaine - how GREAT to see you back and in top form.

Love Don: "The little bastard loves it!" That is going to be my theme for the week.

Ain't it grand to see Elaine back?

--Petless in Pennsylvania.

Good to be back, everybody.
And Mary Alice, what is it about cats and spaghetti sauce?

Elaine, it's lovely to have you back!

Cats and spaghetti sauce? Don't get that, at all. But, I'm a dog person.

Welcome back, Elaine! We had a toy poodle who adored spaghetti sauce, but never tried it on cats. Ours were pretty easy eaters until their last few years, when they each developed separate health issues and separate food issues. Three cats, in a small townhouse that does not have that many places in which to confine a cat during mealtimes. What a pain! But we tried, because we loved them. And isn't that what it's all about?

Right now I'm safe, as long as horse food isn't recalled :)

Elaine, my heart bleeds for Harry. But I'm no help at all: our last cat was an entrée for the coyotes and that was 3 years ago. (Sob.)

Welcome back. You were greatly missed. I'm a cat person, as well. Fortunately I have re-trained my husband. When we met he was a dog person. We lost our 16 year old male. Our female is almost 4. If she doesn't like what's in her dish, she will follow me all over the house meowing at me, rubbing against my legs, and walking under my feet.

Welcome back, Elaine!

I've never had a cat (I'm so allergic I practically get hives typing C-A-T), but we did have a bunny rabbit visiting for the weekend. She ate everything you gave her and pooped a lot, but she was really cute.

Welcome back, Elaine!

Ah, yes, pickety cats. My favorite topic. My kitty Sammie has cancer in her mouth, so getting her to eat is a huge production. On top of that, she's always been finicky. Right now, she's eating people tuna fish. Not cat food tuna fish, mind you. PEOPLE tuna fish. She also likes smoked turkey. And Fancy Feast, although I have to go through several cans to find the one that suits her. Like I said, she has cancer. She used to pampered. Now she's spoiled ROTTEN.

Add me to the welcomes back, Elaine. Max, our almost sixteen year old Russian Blue, is a Fancy Feast man. Admittedly, he will condescend to a can of Friskies now and then, and some Science Diet A/D when at the vet's, but Fancy Feast is his chosen cuisine.
As well as anything Chuck and I happen to be eating at any given time. He's also an Arby's addict. I have to buy a "Jr" whenever we get the roast beef or he makes tortured sounds until we share. Tuna packed in water is my emergency food. It comes out when all others have failed, and if he doesn't eat that, I call the vet!
Fancy Feast was never on the list, to my relief. And Max's, even though all he heard was "blah blah blah, Fancy Feast. Blah!"

Welcome back, Elaine!

I have a cat who is supposed to be my son's cat, but at 5 am when she wants to eat, guess who she wakes up? I never have to set the alarm anymore.

So good to have you back, Elaine. Right on top of things as usual, I see.

Now, I have the opposite problem with cats. I have one who eats EVERYTHING and is now diabetic which means 2 shots a day. Recently, I was on the phone with Nancy and heard this awful "Yeoowww" from downstairs. My cat, Jaine, was splayed on the floor having lost all her faculties. Seems I had forgotten to feed her after shooting her up - One bowl of Diabetic Maintenance Cat Food (I should buy stock in Purina) and she was upright and her usual cranky eighteen-year-old self again.

Though slim is not an adjective I'd used to describe her.

A finicky cat - go figure.

Hi Elaine!
My cats loved Nature's Recipe Venison! Guess the Bambifiles caused that to disappear. Then the rabbit & rice became impossible to find. So mine now get Friskies Special Diet canned (low ash) and Friskies tuna & egg for Saturday night treat.
If they get consipated, they get a couple doses of hairball medicine.
They know better than to creep up to my plate! I growl at them, if I have to hiss they run for cover! LOL

Welcome back, Elaine!
I'm a dog person and as allergic to cats as Michele apparently is, so I can't relate to finicky cats. Based on tv commercials though, I thought cats loved anything served to them in a crystal bowl...?!

Our late cat Jake, loved scones and beef jerky and he had no shame about it. If one of us were eating either, he'd hop up into our lap and attack from the other end. Don's Victorian costume line made me laugh out loud. You guys are a perfect, funny match. Welcome back!

Ah, so good to have a dose of Elaine's wit early in the a.m. Welcome back!! I'm also allergic to cats, and haven't had one since my German allergist declared, "Zat is a 4+ reaction, on ze scale of 1-4; you must get rrrrid of ze catz." Sigh! He suggested marriage and children, "You von't be allergic to ze children . ." which didn't happen, so I spoil nieces and nephews whenever possible.
Friends moved their finicky cat from New York to Minneapolis, where they couldn't find the cheap canned salmon cat food the cat liked; the closest and only acceptable substitute was an expensive brand, a sacrifice they made, reluctantly, as their budget was limited.

My 22 year old Fitch has recently had some constipation, I've started giving him flax seed meal and pureed prunes in his canned food at night. All three cats are on prescription Hills Science Diet K/D [read expensive] for dry food. They used to get Wellness which had bluberries and cranberries in it that helped both constipation and urinary track infections -- but it had too much protein in it for my geriatric cats.
The prunes and flax are working fine.

Hi-jack alert (sorry, Elaine) but look! It's Sarah Strohmeyer!


Our late, great cat Wusil - a cat that terrorized me for many years - had the Friskies Whitefish and Tuna monkey on her back. She wouldn't think of eating any other kind of cat food.

She also had strong cravings for bananas, ice cream, and Pop Tarts of any flavor.

This cat was my nemesis for many years. She'd hide from me and whenever I passed by her little hidey-holes she'd jump out and claw the snot out of whichever body part she could reach. Then she'd run like crazy. I was scared to walk through my own house.

I had to learn to fight fire with fire. I couldn't catch her (and was smart enough to not really want to) so I needed ammunition. I accidentally discovered the power of mini-candy bars one Halloween when the cat attacked me near the candy bowl. My first reaction was to toss one of the little projectiles in her direction. She was much too quick for me to hit, but the act gave me a tiny bit of satisfaction.

I can still remember the look on my wife's face when she walked in the room to see what all the commotion was about and caught me winding up with a mini-Snickers Bar in my pitching hand. I felt a little silly when I thought about what the scene must have looked like to her. Candy bars all over the floor, the cat peering from behind the couch, and me with a candy bar in one hand and bloody scratches on my legs and arm. It was clear who was winning and it wasn't me.

RIP Wusil. I have certainly found a little peace since you left us.

"Fish auditions," "regular guy," and health care critiques - yup, you're back!

There is no substitute for Elaine.

I've always wondered - why don't they make mouse flavored cat food?

WELCOME back Elaine. You must post some of the funner cards you received. I bet you got some great ones.

Cats - love 'em. Can't have one. Husband "says" he's allergic, plus I have a large parrot who isn't crazy about cats.

But before I had the hubby, I had lots of cats. The last one was such a begger. When I brough home Mrs. Winner's chicken, I would buy an extra wing so I could fend off the cat while I ate. I swear, she would have jerked the chicken directly from my mouth if she could have!

Love the story. Love the lines..."The little bastard loves it" and Do you wear a Victorian costume for that price?"
I'm thinking Don keeps you laughing.

Welcome back. You were missed.

Cat constipation, a tough guy throwing candy bars at his pet and now Sarah's new book featured on Yahoo.----In other words, a typical day at TLC!

We had three cats and I guess I was blessed with their good health. T
The spaghetti in meat sauce???I think it was whatever kid who was in charge of cleaning plates and loading the dishwasher who discovered they all LOVED it. Don't know why but I found it a great reward on a day when I only had to open and close the doors about 35 times instead of 75 times.
I really miss our Russian Blue in the winter. Misha read mysteries--------------at least that's what we thought as she draped herself over the shoulders when we were reading same.

Nancy said: Cat constipation, a tough guy throwing candy bars at his pet and now Sarah's new book featured on Yahoo.----In other words, a typical day at TLC!

I think that about sums it up!

And to read something somewhat similar from a subject's pov, try this wonderful feline poem by Abi Sutherland - scroll aaaaalllllll the way down to entry #736.


An imaginary Mel Blanc voice might be good.

Welcome back Elaine!

I think the manufacturers need to be recalled.

Okay, just returned from Costco, where I could NOT find my usual 52-lb. bag of dogfood. Do I smell conspiracy?

Cats. Huh. I am both a dog person and a cat person. But my cat, Raven, is totally conflicted: hug me/don't TOUCH me--play with me/I hate you--feed me/you expect me to eat THAT?--let me curl up next to you/why are you sleeping when you could be enjoying my noisy antics in the closet (or on the nightstand, or under the bed, or on the dresser, or in the hallway)--thank you/don't be fresh with me--oooh a toy, a toy, a toy, a crazy mouse toy with catnip/why would you think I would like that thing?

My dog is just crazy love. My cat is complicated.

I am thrilled to see a post from Elaine, and I had several laughs while reading--a good ending to a long day. Thanks.

To a dog, humans are Family.

To a cat, humans are Staff.

And it's great to have you back, Elaine!

It's a @#$# wonder all of our pets aren't dead from eating all of this %$%#$ recalled pet food!!!!!!

Great to have you back, Elaine. I loved your latest book! Glad to see Helen's hubby will finally get just what he deserves! :)

Elaine, welcome back! Loved this blog, cats are great!

He doesn't look as sad as he looks pissed off. "What are you looking it? Do you have the stinky food? No? Then bugger off, bitch!"

Many sympathies to dear Harry. May he not go on a hunger strike.

Have a lovely day! :-)

Welcome back and see you Thursday at the Main!

I saw Elaine yesterday and she looked great. We shook hands and I think she can win some arm wrestling tournaments, her grip was that strong :)

Welcome Back Elaine, now get back to work!

I want one of those cats that like the non-stinky canned food! Wierd tastes? My new Maine Coon is a bean fiend - green, black, red, doesn't matter. Last night she stole black olives out of the sink.

Good to see Elaine back!

I'm so thrilled to see this post! Thank you

Want truly non stinky food..... believe it or not RAW. Yep raw food does not stink going in or coming out. No throwing up, no shedding, no eating weird things. My 9 love ground chicken and ground rabbit. Can you imagine stinky food with 9 cats around? Nature's Variety and O'mas Pride are a couple. Don't forget to supplement with Feline Pride, Platinum Performance.

My 7 year old female cat suffers from constipation. I am looking for something to give her that will not give her stomach cramps when she need to go. She had an enema at the vets about a month ago and I thought she'd be back to normal once she was "cleaned out" but she isn't. We have tried pumpkin (she didn't like) mineral oil (it didn't work) hair ball medicine (it gave her diarrhea,)lactulose and some other med from the vet that gives her a tummy ache and she just about bounces off the wall. I have been told if I don't get this straightened out she may have to be humanely euthanised. A neighbor suggested flax seed and has given me some already ground up. I called my vets office and was told I could give it to her 1 teaspoonful twice a day. Any opinions on this before I go ahead and give it to her?

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