Due to some ongoing weight-management issues, Ella is a bit shy about having her picture taken and made me promise to leave her picture out of this post. I reluctantly agreed, but thought that you readers deserved more and so I've put pictures of other cats as negative examples so you can get a clear picture of what Ella looks like:
She's not this skinny:
And she's not this fat.
Ella was a very energetic and playful kitten. When I cat-sat for my ex's very cool cat, the Adrian-Brody-esque "Toby", they would play together all day, every day. Ella was in shape and lithe (real word, fyi) and one day even submitted to me this list of her favorite hobbies so I could use that information when buying her cat toys.
However, something changed over the last couple of years. Ella has gotten a bit... rotund. I didn't notice her fattening up because I see her everyday, but when I went to Iraq and my mom watched her I had an email that said:
When did Ella get so fat!? Yesterday she jumped down to the floor from the counter and the vibrations knocked a glass off the table. Maybe it's time for a diet."
Honestly I thought my mom was exaggerating. Turns out the vet thought differently and recommended that I put her on a diet. Well, a better diet, as I thought I had been putting her on a diet already. Turns out my diet was, uh, quite generous.
I didn't like the idea of facing Ella when she was hungry because she's very demanding and stubborn. And who can resist cute cat faces when they ask if they can "haz cheeseburger?" Right? I'm not made of stone you know. But I've been doing my best to stick to her new diet because, in the end, a healthier cat is a happier cat. What finally pushed me into taking action was when I found her old list of hobbies, now updated, under her bed. Quite sad:
Ella is doing pretty good on her diet, though she's still a bit plump. I did see her run (well, jog really) recently so I think things are improving. There's a problem though: she's always hungry. And, since she's always hungry, she assumes that every time I go somewhere in my house I'm headed for her food dish to refill her bowl. I get up or walk around my house many times in a day, yet I only head into her room twice a day.
I can't figure out why she always thinks I'm headed for her food dish, because she's not an optimist. She has to know that the odds of any particular trip of mine leading to her getting food are relatively low. My theory is that she doesn't have the mental processing to determine, in 3-D space, where her food dish is in relation to the rest of the house. Here's the actual layout of the house:
|All dimensions approximate|
As you can see, it doesn't take a traffic flow-chart to determine that Ella's room is not the hub of this house. Nevertheless, she assumes that any trip from one area to the area is inevitably part of a food-refilling mission. So when I get up to go from, say the living room to the kitchen? She sprints (well, waddle-sprints) into her room and waits for food. If I go from the kitchen to my room? She sprints to her dish. It's the same for every time I get up from one room to do something in any other room. I imagine she thinks of the house layout more along these lines:
In a flash of brilliance, it struck me: this might be the key to her getting exercise! All I have to do is feign a trip towards her room and she'll go sprinting in that direction. When she doesn't get food she'll trot back to the living room and wait for my next trip. Like I said, she's stubborn, so when I tried this last week I tricked her into a room-dash 18 times in a row before I got bored with it. I'm shooting for about a dozen trips per day- so far she hasn't caught on to anything yet. I got her pretty good this morning on my way to make breakfast:
On the one hand, I'm using blatant trickery to tease my cat about her favorite pasttime: food. On the other hand, she's finally getting the exercise that her vet says is good for her. [I dated a girl like that?] I think this is a situation where everybody wins, right?
Caleb "Yeah, I torture my cat." Shreves