Head count


When accommodating numerous aging pets, it’s always good idea to do a daily head check.

My house is modest but offers sufficient nooks and crannies for my charges to conceal themselves, which is something cats will do for any number of reasons, the most significant being ill health.

You would think it would be obvious, if one of your cats was hiding for more time than is normal.

Yes, well.

The best moment to count heads would be mealtime, one might think.

Perhaps, if we’ve been selfish enough to run errands that conflicted with feeding time. Because then we have the benefit of cats with empty-ish tummies.

Under these circumstances, they are likely to express a possible interest in the availability of food.

Even then, it’s not a fool-proof system.

As we open cans, still clad in our overcoats (in Winter anyway), because God forbid the little darlings should be kept waiting any longer…

…they start jostling for position and scrutinizing the choices:

“It’s the green one again! He’s getting out the green one!”

“Who cares, I’m starved. Hurry it up!

Sometimes they institute self-service.

We considered just putting down a couple of bowls of kibble so they could graze at leisure, but this would only lead to a heavy imbalance. Besides which, we try to limit dry food.

Wet food is better for their health.

Just like humans they love junk food.

“I want this bowl and that bowl.”

“Boys have no manners!”

“Maybe I’ll have this one too.”

“Oh come on! What are you doing over there?”

Try dishing food into those bowls….

Our every move is supervised and critiqued. And then:

“Really? All this time and that’s the best you can come up with?”

If the little beasts are really hungry, chances are they will turn up in the kitchen when the bowls rattle and they go straight into whatever they are offered.

Which makes me feel we ought to eliminate lunch.

But those expectant little faces come to peer at you and then, how could you eat your own lunch ?

We can’t always rely on hunger to bring them running.

But there are a couple you can depend on.

Plump Sophia is always in the living room. On the sofa or under it. Sometimes by a window, or on the *dining table. And she accepts whatever she is given, politely.

Willow doesn’t miss a meal though she is finicky:

“No pate!”

“Oh. And no stinky fish!”

“But I might try some of that other fish with gravy.”


*We don’t use the dining table.

Dee Dee is always there to take inventory as the cans come out of the cupboard.

She is the Director of Catering.

Muffin too can be relied on and offers a running commentary:

“We’re all here now. Will you be serving soon?”

More often than not, though, they aren’t all present.

Lucy, for one, is inclined to take room service.

“La Fluff prefers breakfast in bed!”

Then she’ll make a face at whatever it happens to be. But I find that if I dump the bowl and run, she will put her nose in and get on with it.

He who hesitates is lost with this gang.

Tinkerbelle, she’s always there ready to pounce on anyone who got served first, or just because she feels like it.

So it’s best to serve her without delay.

Whereas Dee Dee should be served last, because as soon as she’s had two licks, she wants to move on to another choice.

And this is where it degenerates into a free-for-all. They all start to play swap-a-bowl, so you lose count.

“Where’s Patches?”

“In her condo? Downstairs?”

“…Penny? Lily? Toby?”

So we pick up whatever bowls are still on the counter and we run around like fools, trying to locate them, here there….in the end we always throw up our hands:

“Oh sod it! Put the bowls down. Nobody starves!”


And this is generally true but once in a while, someone is off their food which we need to know because when cats get sick, things can go downhill fast. Usually on a holiday weekend.

Penny is no doubt our oldest and she is frail, but she is easy to track because Grant carries her around. She fixes him with those eyes and he is putty.

If he moves to another room, unless she is asleep she follows him.

Toby’s never far away from my desk.

Often he’s right here.

“Isn’t this the plug you were looking for?”

Thanks Toby. I still haven’t sorted out the problem he created with my WordPress site by suddenly sitting on my keyboard.

Toby is another “two-licks and I’m done” cat and mostly he just wants kibble. At his age and state of health he can have whatever he will eat.

One has to be sneaky about it because if the others hear the rattle of kibble, it all goes to hell.

Blacky? She’ll be around unless a delivery van has been, in which case she’s likely to be inside Grant’s box spring downstairs.

Her preference: “No pate. Thank you”

She has good manners.

Which brings us back to Lily.

She’s never anywhere for long. She is always on the move. We hear her scampering from one end of the house to the other, up and downstairs. She is very fleet of foot. (Blackie runs around too, but her footfall is solid!)

So, if we don’t happen to notice when we last saw our Lily, we are not concerned.

And this morning she missed breakfast because she was locked in Grant’s closet!

We should have known something was wrong when we didn’t hear her usual morning wail. I am hoping one day to record one of these renditions. She has quite a portfolio. But reading minds as she does, she always knows when I hit that button.

10 thoughts on “Head count

  1. Ha, ha, this made me laugh!

    How do you cope with such demanding children? How many do you have all up? Thought it was 4 but now I’m not so sure as I’ve lost count.

    Reminds me when we house sat our friends’ house in southern Italy – loved it. We looked after a miniature frisky pony, 2 dogs, 2 cats, chickens, 2 goats, rabbits, and a couple of geese – quite a menagerie. (They’ve now acquired another stunning Peacock – the 1st was taken by a fox?)

    The cats were Fat Cat and Rosie, which reminded me of 2 of your cats. Fat cat aptly named as he ate everything in sight and would wait until svelte Rosie had her fill at half-blow gone only and would flit off to chase things. Then, Fat Cat would bounce on the bowl and inhale every crumb. We’d have to hold him away from Rosie’s bowl as he’d push Rosie out of the way so she wouldn’t get any food.

    It’s sad when they’re aging as in the last 2 years, 4 dogs that we knew and loved around the world are no longer with us so when we visit those friends and family again, the houses won’t be the same. 🙁

    1. Yes. We lost Tom in 2019 and Colin in 2020. Tom was old but not ancient and Colin was still young. There seems to be a lot of cancer in cats these days and we have lost quite a few to kidney disease. We keep them going as long as they appear happy. It is always hard knowing when to let them go. You do your best to get it right but it always feels wrong.

  2. Ollie gets one meal a day, and he won’t eat it unless I am standing watching him. When his tongue presses the food hard against the sides of his bowl, he steps back and looks at me, waiting for me to stir it back into the centre again. If we give him fresh chicken, then it is head down and no coming up for air!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. I can only laugh 😊. I remember how exhausting it was to feed two fussy dogs, let alone 11 cats! But at least it seems you and Grant got everything under control … whether the cats agree is another story!

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