The Reality of Cats

>> Friday, September 25, 2009

We participate in home testing panels, meaning that from time to time, a couple of survey company send us products to try and later asks us what we think about them. We have seen some really nice diaper wipes, and some really dreadful ones. We have received shampoo, frozen dinners, and recently a whole lot of coffee creamer.

Today, we received cat food for the infamous trio. We have 20 cans of catfood that just showed up in the mail. I'm supposed to feed the first 10 cans (labeled, "Use first"), wait for a phonecall, then try the second 10 cans.

So far so good.

Now here is the part of the instructions that leads me to believe that the people who put this study together know absolutely nothing whatsoever about life with cats.

"You may have more than one cat. If you do, please select just one cat and feed this food to him/her. It's important that both of the food products are fed to the same cat so that we can understand how the two cat foods compare to one another." I'm supposed to start this today and keep it up for the next 5-10 days. Even better, I am supposed to make sure that the only cat food the test cat eats is this test food -- nothing else.

Now, excuse my language, but how the *%&& am I supposed to do that? The standard operating procedure in this house is to dump the food into the bowls, enough for all three cats, then walk away. Sometimes we use one kind in all bowls, sometimes we mix it up. If there is food leftover 12 hours later, either the bowl wasn't clean or all 3 of them hated it.

For the most part, meal times start with Big Black Cat twirling around the kitchen trying to coax Darling Husband into opening the cans of catfood early. Then comes Houdini to "help" with the coaxing process. Houdini's job is to sit about three feet from Big Black Cat and twirl around any feet or legs that Big Black Cat is ignoring or can't get to in time. If the food is too late, there might be some infighting. When we travel, which we do often, the food gets put into the multiple day feeder that has an ice pack underneath to prevent spoilage. After so many hours, the lid pops open, revealing the meal. We have more than one of these feeders, but we do not have three popping open at every meal. Neither these feeders, nor the cat food bowls, have the cat's names on them, and even if I had bought personalized cat food dishes, the cats can't read them.

So how, exactly, am I supposed to keep one and only one cat eating this food so I can understand his or her opinions on the food? I don't even know if Girl Cat actually eats wet food at every meal -- she is quite stealthy when it comes to eating time. (That way Toddler won't come running to play, Big Black Cat won't get territorial about the food, and Houdini won't come up to try to get too close and personal.)

Candidly, what this company is asking us to do is not possible. The only way I could ensure that only one cat ate this food, and that same cat ate it every time the food was set out, and ate nothing else, would be to lock that cat in separate room all day. (My 3 cats like to graze on and off all day long.) This forced separation would feel like discipline to him or her, would be out of their ordinary routine, and would almost certainly throw each of them "off their feed." Result? Sorry, survey company, they wouldn't even touch the stuff.

The only option we really have is to use one can at each meal and fill the rest of the bowls as we normally would. If the food is gone before the next meal, then they liked it. Which one liked it? We may never know. Maybe all three, maybe just whoever got to it first, maybe just whoever was eating mop up. I just don't see any other way. I never saw any point to using different types of dry cat food for your different cats either, for the exact same reason. How do you keep the overweight cat from eating the calorie-laden kitten chow? How many rooms is one family expected to dedicate to the feeding of the cats?

Anyone with a multiple cat household is welcome to chime in with additional ideas in case we get any future surveys for cat food.

Oh, and for those of you keeping track, the portable DVD player was returned, safe and sound, with enough cords that we can make it through the trip. Whew!


Susan September 26, 2009 at 12:54 PM  

Sounds like a LOT of trouble for some free cat food. I hope they're paying you some cold hard cash too.

Karin September 27, 2009 at 1:18 PM  

You betcha!

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