For the past couple of months, my cats seemed to have become "clean freaks" concerning their food. It all started when I bought a big bag of cat food at Costco. Both Mama Kitty and Jake seemed to love the stuff, but three or four days later, they were leaving most of their food untouched in the barn. I tried just leaving it there and not giving them more until it was gone, but they only grew thin.
Maybe they didn't like the Costco food after all? So I got another brand that I knew they liked. They ate some when I first gave it to them, then left some behind that seemed to never get consumed. If I pour more on top, they wouldn't eat it. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what might be the problem.
I talked it over with Cliff, who has no idea about the workings of a cat's mind, but sometimes it's helpful if I can just talk a problem over with someone. I decided to wash the old Teflon pan I feed the cats in. Maybe a skunk had been eating out of their pan and stunk it up, who knows. I put cat food in the nice, clean pan, and they ate as though they were starved, both of them.
Next morning there was very little food left. I figured I'd wait until they ate it all, then feed them more.
Same old problem: They were not going to eat the food that remained in the pan; they'd starve first. If I poured more on top of what was already there, they'd dive in for awhile, but leave more than they ate.
I talked to Cliff again. This time he had a suggestion, which at first seemed nuts, but I had tried everything else. "Take a paper plate out to feed them on," he suggested. "Shove it down in the pan and see what happens."
They ate ravenously. Next morning I went out, looked in the pan, and there were only a few pieces of food left in there on the paper plate. It looked clean, and I had forgotten to carry another paper plate out with me, so I just left it in place and poured some cat food in.
Yesterday, same old story. The food hadn't been touched. There was another empty paper plate on the floor, one I had placed there the previous day to give Mama Kitty a chance to eat alone, since her son pushes her away with his big old head when I first feed them. For some reason, I decided to pour the untouched food in the pan onto the paper plate on the floor. That's when I saw the problem.
That food was full of tiny little black ants! They were so small that, mixed in with the food, I hadn't seen them. There were hundreds of them, it looked like!
I imagine the ants bit the cats when they tried to eat. Ouch.
I sprayed their pan with bug spray (outside ONLY) because it doesn't take much bug spray to discourage ants.
This morning the food was gone. I gave the outside of the pan another shot of spray, fed the cats, and felt like a bad cat mama for so frequently starving my cats over the past two months. Poor things, I should have known Mama Kitty, who is the epitome of class and grace, would never be so picky about her food. After all, she remembers starvation: She was very hungry when she first moved here with her kittens.
I apologized to both cats. I'm not sure, but I think I'm forgiven.