I’ve been looking at Na Ki’o this past week, thinking he seems pudgier. He came to us in an overweight condition — that’s where he got his name. He came with a horribly unsuitable name that Lynn and I both said NO to, but then we struggled with a replacement. We at last settled on Na Ki’o, which is probably some howli inaccuracy but which the internet told Lynn was Hawaiian for “puddle.”
He is quite puddly: when he rests on his belly, he seems nearly as wide across as he is long. Sometimes when you go to pick him up he can be quite boneless, and he slides around gelatinously in your arms.
So Job 1, after he arrived, was to try to get some weight off him. First we tried to encourage this previously-indoor cat to try the great outdoors — but then his housemate Khonsu, an indoor-outdoor cat for 13 years, disappeared one morning, so that started to seem like a bad idea, especially for a guy with no front claws and what seem to be few cat skills.
I also put his dry-food dish at a point as far from the kitchen as we could manage, which was a better plan. He’s an extremely food-motivated creature, so if he thought he was going to get food he would race upstairs. Then if I went into the kitchen he would race downstairs.
He lost a little bit of weight, and then Marrakesh came to live with us. Kesh, like every cat before him except Ki’o (Key-oh), is a free feeder. Food opportunist that Ki’o is, he was always there to help, and big, bad Marrakesh just turns away as he is crowded out of his own dish. It doesn’t help either that he is the slowest eater in the world. I’m not sure how he reached the 20-pound range with Na Ki’o always close at paw to help.
We had a similar problem with Khonsu, although she ate faster and wasn’t as inclined to share, but we solved that by moving her food to Club Khonsu (the garage, where she used to spend hours lying on a shelf) and down to the laundry room, both places Na Ki’o seemed to regard as too scary to travel, even for food.
Once Marrakesh arrived, however, Ki’o decided the horrors of the laundry room could be overcome in favor of food. We had to escalate our game.
We spent $149 on what I think is called a SurePet feeder, a closed dish that opens when the correct cat’s microchip gets near. That worked for a little bit, but did I mention Na Ki’o is food motivated?
He started coming in through the sides. Lynn retaliated by taping plastic on either side. Then he started sidling in alongside Kesh from the front, and here is a major flaw in the SurePet design: it is supposed to close once Marrakesh and his microchip pull away, but if Na Ki’o’s head is in there, it remains open until Ki’o has vacuumed up all the food.
So that means standing guard while the world’s slowest eater picks his way through breakfast and dinner and the other 20 meals he eats each day. Slowly. The part I don’t get is that Marrakesh always sounds like he’s eating eating eating, and then when he walks away, the food seems untouched.
We moved to this house and Marrakesh got very sick and mostly stop eating for real. I think he dropped about five pounds. His recovery was slow and for whatever reason, he didn’t want to eat from his feeder. Eventually we thought to feed him from the dish that goes in the feeder, then we put the dish right in front of the feeder, and now he is back to eating from the feeder. Except that the feeder appears to be having technical difficulties.
(And why not? It runs on batteries, which store electricity, and if it’s electrical in nature, we are having issues with it. The other day, about a week and several uses after the electrician had exchanged the steam shower breaker for one with more amps, the steam tripped the breaker yet again. I’m about ready to give up.)
In the meantime, over the last couple of weeks, Na Ki’o’s blood sugars have shot up about 100 points, settling in at 300 (half that would be an ideal number), suggesting that he is availing himself of more food than he ought to be. And he’s looking decidedly plumper. (Perhaps we should invest in a scale to track pet weights.)
Something else occurred to me last night, however: Na Ki’o is no longer running up and down stairs in his quest to find food. He doesn’t even have to make the journey across the house — just a few steps from one dish to the other.
I can move his dry-food dish (which is empty until we put minute amounts of food — about 15 pieces at a time — in it, to have them gobbled immediately) across the house, but we’re still going to lack the resistance training of the stairs. So now I’m trying to think of something that might exercise him, in a household where everyone barely stays awake long enough to sort of exercise themselves and a dog.
And every time I go looking on-line to find something that might entertain Marrakesh when he is yowling to be let out after dark, the reviews are always completely mixed: “This works great!” right next to “I own 27 cats and not a single one would play with this.” (Before you yell at me, I’ve also checked locally at the good pet store, but they don’t have much of anything in cat toys.)
I kind of think, since the most popular toys we own are the white Converse shoelaces I reject in favor of color in my high tops, that buying any of these expensive cat toys would be the same waste of money every other toy we’ve already purchased has been.
So I don’t have any solutions, now that I have belatedly identified the problem (a lack of stairs, go figure), but somewhere out there must be the answer. All we need is something to entertain Marrakesh, exercise Na Ki’o, and not cause Oz to try to stop all this cat nonsense taking place in his house. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?