Each morning I play “find the chicken” with my two cats Ruby and Sneakers. Let me rephrase, I hide four pieces of flash-frozen chicken pods, and the two of them work on finding those pieces. The Vet told us at their annual check-up a few months ago that they were overeating on “filler food,” that’s why Sneakers always acted as if she was starving and was simultaneously gaining weight. The vet suggested a diet of mostly pure protein. It would be good for them, and they wouldn’t gain weight quickly.
(It’s the same advice I received from my own doctor about a month earlier, my peri-menopausal body had gained weight, and I was told to eat fewer carbs more protein. I had heard about pet owners starting to look like their cats- I hadn’t really heard before about owners having the same diet as their pets, pretty funny.)
It’s expensive, at $19 for a small bag of frozen food, but I was willing to try it, and they needed to “hunt for it” to burn calories. The portion control is two pieces each. I hope Sneakers won’t eat them all – she’s a hog around food and her sister has chosen to be okay with it.
I get the bag out of the closet and Ruby and Sneakers know immediately that it is “find the chicken time” and they follow me carrying the bag. I put a piece on the dining table, a piece on the coffee table, I keep walking, one on the glass table near the window where they often sit, one on the counter above the washing machine. They follow me and then they stop, their noses up in the air, Instead of watching what I am doing and jumping up onto the table to see where I am putting the pieces they sniff and start going in different directions, due to the chicken scent being in the air or some other thing I don’t know.
It’s as if they have lost sight of the result. The whiff of a scent throws them off, they get confused and go off track. Almost as if they lose trust in their abilities. I try pointing, telling them with my finger “Look here, it’s in plain sight, right here.”, sometimes I even tap the counter. “Here it is.” They don’t listen. I watch this fascinated and slightly annoyed- don’t they get it? It’s right there, right there! Waiting.
I realized the other day they are just like us. We are on a hot trail going after something we want and desire and then get sidetracked, doubt pops up. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea?” “Maybe this is a mistake.” We question ourselves and go off course when we had it (whatever desire /goal that might be) in our sight line at the start. We go along with full confidence and then wham! A stop sign shoots up of our own making.
I’m not sure if my cat’s brains work the same as mine but every morning this scene unfolds with slight variations. I want to tell them and myself.
“Here it is, go on an adventure, see what you find, don’t get waylayed. Trust yourselves, trust what you see, take a chance kitties!”
As of today- and the past 60 days of doing this – when I return from work or after being gone a few hours and check the four spots the chicken has disappeared. It just takes them awhile to get the food. And if one day they don’t find it I would still feed them. So don’t worry my pets, you will, in the end, get the chicken, just don’t make it harder than it has to be.