Regular friends of the decanter may recall my mentioning before, with some bitterness, the ironic juxtaposition of the facts that a) of all the members of the Port Swiller household, ol’ Robbo is probably least fond of cats, and b) of all the members of the Port Swiller household, ol’ Robbo is the one who usually gets saddled with the responsibility of taking care of our pair of felines.
The cats themselves understand this arrangement perfectly well. (Indeed, I am not altogether sure that they didn’t have a paw in engineering it. Just the sort of thing a cat would think amusing.) One manifestation of this understanding is the increasing frequency and intensity with which the younger of the two, Bella, pesters me to feed her.
It’s not that food isn’t always available to her. It is. But I only keep the bowl of dry food topped up. What she wants is the wet stuff, which we give her once a day and which she generally has hoovered up within ten or fifteen minutes. (She is also in the habit of trying to snarf as much of her elderly companion’s ration as possible. The way she slurps up the gravy is downright revolting.)
To this end, there are times when I feel positively persecuted by Bella. She follows me about, mewling pitifully. She sits on the arm of my comfy chair while I’m reading and tries to hypnotize me into opening up a can. In the morning, when I am feeding her, she does her level best to get tangled up in my legs while I’m trying to dish the stuff out. It is not unusual for me, when she tracks me down in the kitchen and starts in, to shake my finger at her bowl and yell, “You’ve got food, you unspeakably gluttonous villain!” (The look she gives me in response would be difficult to render into a written description.)
I used to think that Bella was just greedy. However, according to this article from the Telegraph, she’s actually psychotic:
Cats that pester for food could be suffering from psychological condition
Cat owners see it as a sign of hunger and affection — their pet miaowing and rubbing against their ankles as dinner time approaches.
But according to a group of vets, it is a sign of a creature whose obsession with food has driven it to the edge of insanity.
They claimed that cats that show too much eagerness to be fed could be suffering from the newly-diagnosed condition of “psychogenic abnormal feeding behaviour”.
And the attention-seeking behaviour is a symptom called “excessive solicitation of interspecific interactions”.
According to the researchers, who set out their findings in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, other symptoms can include “food-related aggressiveness” — taking food from other cats’ bowls — and “context-specific excessive appetite” — jumping on the table to eat from the owner’s plate.
I will say that Bella doesn’t jump on table. Lucky for her, because the first time she did would be the last.
So what does one do with a cat affected by PAFB syndrome? Become an enabler and give in to her constant demands? Seek counseling? Intervention? Maybe a support group? (“Hi, my name’s Bella and I have psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior.” “Hi, Bella!”) Cut her off cold and sleep with a cosh under my pillow in case she goes postal?
UPDATE: Dr. Boli presents an advert for the very thing to let your cat indulge in its excessive solicitation of interspecific interactions.