Animals are a lot like people: They each have individual personalities, and I find most of these individual personalities intermittently annoying.
Lately, one of my three cats – the one named for 16th century Hungarian noblewoman Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed, who gained the kind of pre-TikTok celebrity only bathing in the blood of 600-odd virgins to gain eternal youth could give you – has been driving me nuts. Not that this is unusual. My critters (the aforementioned trio of felines and a single sad dog) are forever working one or all of my nerves. If Megadeth (cat) isn’t weaving between my legs as I stumble from the living room to the bathroom, then Flannery (’nuther cat) is desperately scaling my lower extremities to perch upon my lap, or LP (that’s the dog) is ceaselessly barking at the opossum that has the gall to hang out in the tree branch 20 feet above his backyard.
But Bathory has taken the peskiness inherent in all God’s creatures and cranked it to 11. In recent weeks, she has decided she no longer cares for the pile of dusty salmon-and-chicken-flavored crunch-nuggets we leave out for her and her siblings to snack upon. Now she insists, vigorously, she be fed nothing but the slimy stink-mush that comes in a can and purports to taste like seared whitefish or grilled chicken liver or anything other than what it actually resembles: blended entrails.
If Bathory does not receive this delicacy when she wants it, which is frequently enough to defy the laws of time and space, she will fill our tiny home with a song of lamentation, her cries of starvation growing ever louder until one of us finally relents with a burst of profanity. Mandy or I will stomp to the kitchen, tell our screaming cat how obnoxious she’s being and ask her all kinds of questions about how she could be hungry and why won’t she just eat from the mound of arid dust-lumps like her more complacent siblings, to which she’ll reply with more caterwauling.
And so we’ll slop a spoonful of the compressed tuna guts or whatever the heck it is into her bowl, and she will plunge her entire face into this disgusting stew – which, by the way, the good people in the marketing department at Friskies have judiciously labeled “pate” – and snarf it down with an urgency that suggests it is her first meal in a week, although we went through this ritual some 20-odd minutes before. I’m not sure how that cat fits so much quote-unquote food in her stomach, which is roughly the size of an infant’s fist, or what exactly is driving her hunger.
I suspect Bathory’s newfound zest for canned meat-slop indicates some underlying issue. Hunger can be as much a psychological need as a physiological one. Perhaps her current fixation suggests something lacking in her life, a pate-shaped hole she desperately hopes to fill. I can understand that … I suspect we all can.
Like I said, animals really are like people.