Smarter Than Your Average Cat

two cats 1119
Ki’o, in the back, doesn’t look nearly as fat when he hangs out with the massive Marrakesh.

If you’ll recall, Yogi Bear was “smarter than your average bear” as he went about his day in Jellystone Park, swiping “pic-a-nic” baskets and generally getting the best of the park ranger who tried to stop his shenanigans. Well, today — at least for the moment — this ranger is feeling smarter than your average cat.

Not that I mean to imply (even though I just stated it overtly) that Na Ki’o is your average cat. He’s rounder than most. He’s more gelatinous. He purrs ten times louder than average. And he cares about food way above average. Okay, “cares” isn’t correct. He is food obsessive. It appears to occupy his every waking thought. It probably pervades his dreams as well.

You may recall that it took awhile, after we moved, but I finally started noticing that Ki’o is now just about as wide as he is long, and it occurred to me (belatedly, I’ll admit) that he was no longer getting in exercise as he moved from food dish to food dish, many of them not his.

feeder 1119You may also recall that we had spent more money than you might expect on a feeder for Marrakesh that’s supposed to only open for his microchip. Lynn had had to modify the feeder to keep Ki’o from mooching in from the sides, but we didn’t have a good means of stopping him once he started muscling in from the front alongside Marrakesh, who then — as a good Boo-Boo sidekick should — compliantly slides out of the way, giving Ki’o full access to the full contents of Kesh’s dish.

If that isn’t egregious enough, Marrakesh has shown a distinct dislike for Ki’o’s diet foods, so he gets regular ol’ cat food. And now that his feeder isn’t someplace scary, like the downstairs laundry room, Na Ki’o has been getting a lot of regular ol’ cat food. A lot.

This seemed like a huge design flaw in this feeder to me. It won’t let Na Ki’o in if Boo Boo — I mean, Marrakesh — isn’t there to assist, but although it’s supposed to only respond to Kesh’s microchip, once the flap is open and Ki’o’s head is in there, it stays open until he licks the platter clean and waddles off.

And fat and growing ever fatter is bad enough, but this has also been messing with our diabetic cat’s blood sugars, sending them screaming upward to unhealthy levels.

I finally went to the Sure Pet company’s website, prepared to communicate with them in some fashion to convey my dismay/displeasure with this. But they have an entire protocol set up where they anticipate your every problem. And unlike some websites, like, say Yahoo, where you can’t ever find your way to a human being nor can you get information that is actually helpful, Sure Pet is there to help.

They even offer basic helpful advice, such as to remove the food bowl before you turn the feeder upside down to find your serial number. Then, after I had used a series of pull-down tabs to tell them that my issue was an “unauthorised pet” (it’s a British company) poaching food from the front of the feeder, they directed me to a minute-and-a-half video with horrible treacly music and step-by-step instructions to put Marrakesh’s feeder in “invader mode.”

But I, bumbling park ranger that I am, could not get their instructions to work. Now, this is one of those modern devices that relies on three buttons to do the work of 20, so you push two buttons until the one light turns “steady red,” after which you push one of the same buttons two times to get steady orange . . . I never did get red. I just kept getting a blinking orange, which I couldn’t get to stop. My solution was to turn the feeder back over and remove one of the four C batteries that power it. (This seems to me another design flaw — why can’t this be plugged in?)

It required Lynn to come home and point out that I was pushing a wrong button. There are three of them; I needed to push two, and I was pressing on the wrong one. So I tried again, and still got nowhere. I decided to let the project sit.

Trying again several hours later, starting off with the correct buttons, everything worked just the way the company said it was supposed to, and the feeder now appears to be in “invader mode.” The door flap is slamming shut when Ki’o pokes his fat little nose in alongside Marrakesh.

Here’s how it’s working so far: blood sugars before “invader mode” (which sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) were 350, 360, 370; since the fix they’ve been at 78, 234, 266 and 140. The range for average cats (and people) is 80-120, and Ki’o’s vet is satisfied as long as he’s around 200 or lower.

I don’t know about Ki’o, but Lynn and I are feeling better about this. Surely he must feel better too, not always lolling around with an overstuffed belly. He’s been wapping his toys all around the Good Room. He’s also coming on the run when he knows it’s his food he’s getting, and running is a form of exercise, right?

Na Ki’o, like Yogi, is never going to stop salivating over campers’ pic-a-nic baskets, but for the moment — after Lynn stepped in to help, of course — I’m feeling smarter than your not-so-average cat.

One thought on “Smarter Than Your Average Cat

  1. Dark confession: I’ve designed UIs with buttons, multiple clicks and patterns on LEDs. It’s a form of payback to a world that bullied us as children 😉

    A bright note though. The person who I share my life with despises poor interfaces and lets me know in no uncertain terms. Maybe this helps everybody else.


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