Oliver: Finicky feline’s palate sends owner into feeding frenzy

H. Rick Bamman 
Joan Oliver Northwest Herald assistant news editor
H. Rick Bamman Joan Oliver Northwest Herald assistant news editor

The hiding was the first clue.

Harriet, my 15-year-old tuxedo cat, isn’t one to make herself scarce when it’s time to take her pills for the day. Surprising, right? 

She’s very unlike my previous cat, Hooper, who would do everything in her power not to have to swallow her prescribed pills. She’d spit them out dramatically. She’d hide them in her cheek, only to spit them out later, usually in a spot that was just visible enough that I would find them but have no idea which day they were administered. Hooper was, ahem, a pill about taking pills.

Harriet, on the other hand, submits without too much trouble, provided that I place said pills in a reasonably good spot on her tongue. Perhaps she realizes that she feels better when her blood pressure is controlled. After all, like the rest of us, she’s not getting any younger.

This day, however, she hid under the bed. I quickly tried to remember whether there had been anything amiss with the previous day’s pill-taking; there was not. What could this be?

A survey of the house revealed she had been having little accidents, indicating some sort of infection. Since it was Sunday night, her regular veterinary clinic was not open. (Of course, right? Who, human or animal, gets sick during normal business hours?) So it was off to the kitty hospital.

Three hours later, we were back home and ready to begin a 14-day course of antibiotics, to be administered twice a day … with food. Who knew that cats also have tummy trouble with antibiotics? Having been there myself, I knew that I would have to be serious about making sure Harriet ate.

This was more difficult than expected. She wasn’t feeling well, so she wasn’t interested in her dry food. Her “treats,” a snack to help keep her teeth clean, didn’t stay in her stomach, either.

The vet had suggested stage 1 baby food of a meat variety. I’m sure I looked as clueless as I felt scanning the baby food aisle at the grocery store.

At first, Harriet devoured the foul-smelling turkey food for tiny people. Victory, I said to myself. 

The last thing I needed was for Harriet to lose weight. We’d been down this road once before, when I discovered that Harriet is a bit of a finicky eater. Did I mention this cat won’t eat if she doesn’t like it? She’ll wait me out before she’ll touch anything she deems beneath her.

Problem is, she decided after that first round of baby food that she didn’t like it. Nope. Not going there again. She also rejected the chicken variety. 

Now what? Desperate measures were required. In the past, Harriet had had no interest in wet cat food because that’s what Hooper used to eat. This worked out fine because Hooper wasn’t interested in Harriet’s dry food, either.

Peace, harmony and different feeding schedules.

Maybe, just maybe, I could entice Harriet to eat some nice, smelly, fish-based wet cat food. Fish, after all, is her favorite treat flavor, too.

One emergency run to the grocery store later and we were ready to give it a go. Would she eat it? Would I have to take her to the vet again to get her to eat? The plot thickened.

Not only did Harriet eat it, but she devoured it. Apparently hunger will do that. Anyway, a few days more have passed, and she’s returning to her usual self, including nibbling on her dry food in between her pill times. 

Another mystery solved. A kitty on the mend. Another crisis, hopefully, averted.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

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