Matt and I have two cats, Tricky and Chyna. Both were rescue cats and with both we have to wonder how they possibly survived for more than a week on the streets.
Chyna just isn’t that bright, but Tricky has some oddities that seem like they ought to have reduced her likelihood of survival. My favorite example is how she begs.
It doesn’t at all surprise me that a stray cat would be good at begging. Tricky’s got the techniques down pat: she mews pathetically, paces behind you, and stares wide eyed at whatever you’re preparing. It doesn’t matter what you take from the fridge: celery to shrimp, if Tricky is in the mood to beg, she’ll be appear as soon as you step into the kitchen.
The weird part is what she does if you give in to her charms: nothing. To be more specific, she looks at the piece of ham or shrimp or cheese you’ve laid down on a plate for her, then looks back up at you like: what is this crap? Apparently Tricky doesn’t like people food. Sometimes she’ll play with it.
This isn’t limited to people food though, I think tricky only eats cat food socially. Often I’ll wake up in the morning to have Tricky making “feed me” noises only to go to her bowl and find it still half full from the night before. As soon as she sees that I’m about to pour new food in her bowl she starts eating the old stuff.
When she was a stray, sometimes Matt and I would put out food for her: everything from dry science diet to canned popular cat food with the nutritional equivalent of Doritos. She always mewed eagerly, then promptly ignored the dish as soon as we put it down for her. At the time we thought this was because other people must be feeding her too, but now we’re not so sure. She has kitty rickets. When we finally adopted her we thought she was fat but it turned out she was pregnant (with six little kitty fetuses), and even then we had to coax her to eat the food we put out for her.
Part of the issue may be that Tricky was clearly a hunter. It took her a while to learn to play: at first she merely “caught” whatever we were playing with and quickly “killed” it, then lost interest. Possibly she would more happily eat chipmunk corpses than kitty kibble, or even cooked chicken. It seems unlikely to me however that Tricky could have survived for nearly a year without relying somewhat on trashpickings or charity.
Chyna is even less interested in people food, she doesn’t even beg. While we’re eating dinner, sometimes she’ll climb onto our laps and want to sniff what we’re eating, but then shows no further interest. It’s kind of weird, but we’ve never bothered to discourage it since she isn’t actually trying to take the food. In fact the only non cat food that either of them like is tuna, which must be a cat universal.
Tricky and Chyna are both happily plump kitties now, so they’re clearly getting enough to eat. We should count ourselves lucky that we can leave dinner unattended without having it be snatched by a greedy cat, so I’m not complaining. It’s just another one of those peculiarities that makes me wonder what’s going on in those little brains.