Feeding ferocious felines

With deliberate noise, I walked to the kitchen and opened the pantry door.  I reached inside and grabbed a bag of treats, making sure to rattle them as I drew them forth and prepared mentally for the feast that was sure to follow.  Already I could hear the fast approach of tiny feline paws, the sound of leaping to the floor from various perches throughout the house, and the rapid jaunts from locations near and far.

Kako was the first to call out to me, but that’s actually quite normal.  She’s a vocal gal, certainly not one to hide how she’s feeling, and in fact I have long believed that she loves to hear the sound of her own voice.  Her darting feline grace carried her swiftly into the kitchen.  The entire journey was marked with the desirous inquiries.  “Yes, Daddy, we’d love a treat.  Are those for me?  Why not toss me a few now before the others get here?”

With the treat bag firmly in hand, I turned toward the living room to make my way there.  At the kitchen’s entrance sat Kazon looking quite unawake yet determined to get his share.  His eyes were only half-open as he looked at me with affection mixed with primitive want.  “You’re not even awake yet,” I declared as I walked in his direction.  His eyes never left me, although they were now beginning to open more widely, perhaps the sudden wakefulness one achieves when it is required to get something we desperately want.

Grendel sauntered into the living room as I left the kitchen and headed in his direction.  He, too, had only just gotten out of bed, but he certainly looked more awake than Kazon had when he first appeared.  I reached down absently and scratched Grendel’s head as I passed him.  Only a few steps further and I was there: in the place for a feeding frenzy.

I called out to Loki as he still had not joined us.  There in the bedroom at the end of the bed, I could see him watching me intently.  You see, he won’t get up until he knows the party has started.  Smart cat.  I called to him again and shook the bag intently to let him know we were indeed going to satiate desires of the tummy.  Well, they were anyway.  He leaped quickly to the floor and walked into the living room to the position where I now stood.

With the whole audience now in place, I sat on the floor with the bag of Feline GreeniesThe Kids love them, including Loki who is the most finicky of cats (so much so that he doesn’t like salmon!).  Since discovering Greenies only a month ago, they’ve quickly become one of their favorite treats.  Unlike tuna, chicken or other “people foods” that they get, these are treats they can have at will without a lot of preparatory drama and follow-up mess.

Kako and Kazon even go so far as to eat them out of my hand.  Grendel and Loki will often eat chicken or fish or other such foods directly from my hands but not Greenies.  Perhaps I mean not yet, but thus far I’ve had no luck with that.

I got into a comfortable kneeling position with the bag of Greenies resting between my legs.  I’ve learned quickly that the bag requires protection if it’s going to survive from one treat session to the next.  There was an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago that required me to put a full bag of Greenies into a Ziploc bag due to irreparable damage to the original container, damage caused by hungry little teeth.  I now know better than to leave the bag accessible to them.

You see, Kazon is a relentless pig.  Anyone observing his treat eating habits would think he was starved as a child and throughout adulthood.  Regardless of what the treat is, he’s always desperate for more and will gladly fight to get some.  If it’s an open plate of something (such as what you see here), Kazon will be the last one to leave the plate and the first to return.  Derek and I laughed constantly when this happened, as Kazon will sometimes look like he’s simply eaten too much and is going to be sick because of it.  The thought I have is that he’s certain this will be the last treat they’ll ever get, so he has to get his fill now and consume as much as possible as he’ll never again see this kind of feast.  He was the murderer of the last Greenies bag and the cause for needing to protect it now.

I sat kneeling in the middle of the living room with the bag between my legs.  I pulled out a handful of treats and made a small pile for each of The Kids.  They normally start with three apiece because some eat slower than others do and it can become an ugly competition based on who finishes first.  Limiting the initial allotment helps me keep track of who’s done so that I can give them another piece to keep them occupied while everyone else finishes.  Kako and Kazon always finish first while Grendel and Loki enjoy a more relaxed meal.

The smile on my face was ear to ear while they all four sat and enjoyed the first few pieces.  The silence of treat time always amuses me.  There is much talking just before it’s time to eat, but, like humans, the talking grinds to a halt when the eating begins.

As soon as they finished, both Kazon and Kako immediately began looking for more.  I pulled a few additional pieces out of the bag and gave one to each of them.  In turn (although not patiently), they took them directly from between my fingers as I offered.  Kako is actually quite gentle in this regard.  She wants it and she wants it now, but she also doesn’t want to create a ruckus, knowing as she does that more treats are sure to follow as long as Daddy doesn’t get wounded in the process.  She’s not always mindful of hurting me (and, sometimes, I’m quite sure she takes joy in doing it), yet food alters the dynamics of the situation.

I’m not sure if Kazon, on the other hand, sees the hand as unrelated to the treat.  By that, I mean that he’s not always sure where one ends and the other begins.  He does a respectable job of not removing any appendages only through constant reminders that he must be careful.  Many times, I must gently hold him at bay and tell him to take it easy because all he knows is that there’s something worth biting.

Again, let me reiterate that I’ve never been wounded during this process.  Sure, there’s been a nibble here or there, but nothing that drew blood or caused excessive pain.  The most he has done in the past has been to bite down on my finger with just enough pressure to realize it’s not what he thought it was, the whole while his tongue dances against my finger to get the taste of the thing which quickly tells him it’s not what he thought it was.  There are times when you can see the abysmal disappointment on his face as he releases my finger.

While Kako and Kazon quietly consumed their individual servings, I gave Grendel and Loki another helping as they’d finished what they had.  They gratefully waited for seconds and then happily munched.  I was forced to lovingly chide Kako and Kazon midway through this process because they were attempting to grab some of Grendel’s goodies.  They are a relentless lot.

After ensuring The Boys had their second helping while keeping an arm between them and The Twins, I turned my attention back to the hungry mouths now attempting to infiltrate the protective barrier between them and the bag.  Both Kako and Kazon stood with their front legs propped upon my legs (one to each leg so I couldn’t escape).  Once again, I gave them another Greenie by hand.  Kako again took hers gently and enjoyed it without moving from her perch.  Kazon gulped his as though there were no hope of ever having another.

It was finally time for the last one.  I pulled two more from the bag before slipping it quickly between my legs to ensure its safety.  I realized at this point that a mother bird must feel just as I do with the hungry mouths jutted toward me in eager anticipation of another bite.  Grendel and Loki remained in their places at my side happily crunching away at the last few tidbits.  Kako and Kazon were practically climbing my body looking for just one more.

I held out the treats.  She took hers gently and contentedly ate it without stepping down off my leg.  Kazon took his with eager abandon and practically swallowed it whole.  I took the opportunity to pick up the bag so that I might reseal it.  Perhaps this is where I made my mistake.

Kazon was still standing on my left leg, and this position put his face very near the bag.  My fingers were covered in the smell and flavor of the Greenies.  I could feel the grit on them as I closed the bag.  Kazon was still searching ruthlessly for one more treat, so I put my hand out to him while saying, “No more.  See, they’re all gone.”  He didn’t hesitate whatsoever.  With my hand outstretched and fingers splayed, the bag precariously dangling in the other hand, Kazon reached out and chomped down on my index finger.  The move was so sudden and surprising that I didn’t even flinch.  It only took that one bite and a few licks with his tongue for him to realize there was no treat to be had.  It was too late, though, as the damage was already done.  He released my finger and turned to look at the bag.

Blood began welling up from my finger.  There were two innocuous yet painful holes.  “Ouch!” I yelped.  The bite was very near my fingernail and almost strategically placed to inflict damage on both sides of it.  The pain was sharp and abrupt.  Like lava from a volcano, the blood continued to bubble to the surface, rapidly becoming drops that fell onto my legs below, albeit small drops and certainly not indicators that I was bleeding to death.

“Ouch!” I wailed again.  “That really hurt.”  I looked at Kazon as I said this in the hopes that he would understand I was speaking to him.  In his own special way, he knew I was talking to him; he simply had no idea what the problem was and continued to be more interested in whether or not another treat was to be produced from that magic little bag.  His puppy-dog eyes stared at me in loving adoration mixed with want.

“You hurt me, you know?”  He stared back blankly before glancing at the bag.  His face immediately turned again so that his gaze met mine.  “That hurt, Kazon.  Look, I’m bleeding.”  He leaned up closer to my face and planted a sweet kiss on the end of my nose, followed immediately by a gentle rub of his head against my chin.  What a stupendously strategic maneuver that was.  Even as he turned his attention back to the bag, he knew all was forgiven.

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