|This is what we like to see -- a licked-clean food plate! Unfortunately, with Mr. Darcy, it's often a battle to get there.|
|When Mr. Darcy's appetite is flagging, the solution is often pork or chicken, cooked in just the right amount of water in the oven. Here I hope I've added the right amount of water.|
|All cooked! The meat looks just about the right done-ness.|
|The juice from the meat is Mr. Darcy's favourite part of the meal. This batch looks about the right colour to be flavourful and tempting.|
|Here's the cooked, chopped-up pork with juice. Fresh from the oven with lots of juice gives it the best chance of getting eaten.|
|Is there more? A clean plate and this expression on his little face is music to my heart.|
When Mr. Darcy is off his food, this is what I do: Head up to Stong's and scour the shelves for the finest-looking piece of pork tenderloin I can find. It must be small because it only qualifies as "freshly cooked" for a day or two, and it should be lean and red and rich-looking. At home, I plop the pork into a baking dish and add water.
This is the deciding moment, when the whole enterprise sinks or swims. The key is precisely the right amount of water so the pork comes out bathed in a sizzling, fragrant, yellow-brown gravy. Too much liquid and it's yawn-inducing dishwater; too little and the result is orphan meat. For, as Mr. Darcy has made clear, meat without the elixir of juice is not worth bending the head to.
Some people might think the above scenario, last enacted on Saturday, is a bit excessive. But they would be people who had not fallen in love with Mr. Darcy as a purring kitten 12 years ago; they do not have the privilege of having him knead his way all the way up to their chins, then fall over on their necks, still purring.
The other side of this kneading and purring is a propensity for trouble: Cat fights, wounds and stitches. A failing kidney at age two. A coyote attack four years ago, surgery, and a long recovery. Allergies to plants, of which his world is full. Since almost all of the above come paired with loss of appetite, life with Mr. Darcy has been a lengthy battle of the food bowl.
We've been through dry food; no dry food; a winter of home-cooked pork (we thought he had a food allergy, so tried something different); lots of tuna (his favourite); no tuna (too much mercury); expensive wet food from the vet (he wouldn't eat it); cheap wet food from anywhere (just let him eat something!), and on to where we are today, which is a mixture of everything.
Mostly we get along fine, but when I'm tossing out more untouched food than what he's eating, alarm bells go off. Cooking up some pork tenderloin with exactly the right amount of water is the least of what I'm willing to do.
|There are often four to six dishes of partly finished food awaiting His Nibbs' pleasure. When he's refusing plate after plate, I get anxious.|
|Some of the (very expensive) canned cat food he is pleased to reject when he's not in the mood.|
|Then there's the pork to be cooked at home.|
|And the chicken breasts.|
|But he never rejects this: tuna in lots of liquid. He gets one portion a night as a treat, and takes about 30 seconds to vacuum it up.|
|I will feed him anywhere, just to get him to eat. Here he is under his blanket "tent" on the couch. Photo by John.|
|As the weather warms, he's taken to dining al fresco, out on the back steps. As I say, I'll feed him anywhere.|
|Mr. Darcy as a growing kitten. He has been a sweet, if trouble-prone cat from the first. Photo by John.|
|Why I don't mind doing anything to keep him eating: There's nothing like Mr. Darcy cuddled under your chin. Photo by John.|