Mommy, or Food Source? An Exploration into my Relationship with my Cats

Cat parents around the world went wild with glee when a study that stated cats are actually nice and like humans went viral. The study deprived cats of food, human contact, scent, and toys for a few hours, and once reintroduced, 50% of cats preferred human contact over all other stimuli (with 37% preferring food). Thus, the results proved that many cats prefer humans to the other things that cats are traditionally supposed to love.

But me and all other cat lovers weren’t happy about this study because we were surprised – rather, we were happy because now we had scientific proof to show all of the haters what we’d known all along: cats enjoy human attention! Our babies love us! Take that you lying dog people!

However, what about that other 37% of cats that preferred food? Were they just hungry, or do they just like humans less than other cats do?

And most importantly, where do I stand with my own cats?

My cats are hungry little buggers. Right away when I brought them home, I realized that they had one true love: wet food. In fact, my cats love wet food so much that I’ve started wondering whether cat food manufacturers put addictive substances into their canned food. Whenever it’s about time to eat canned food (and probably a few hours more), anytime I go in the kitchen, Chuck and Barry are there crying for some food. They follow me from room to room, just waiting until I’ll crack open a can and give them wet food. It’s probably their favorite part of the day.

And this hangry behavior has only gotten worse recently since I decided to stop free feeding my cats. Why? Because unlike Chuck, who has stayed thin and trim, Barry got fat. Although I find his big paunchy belly adorable, I also know it’s unhealthy, so I switched to scheduled feeding in an attempt to get him to shave some pounds.


A chunky Barry 

So what does this lead to? Well, it leads to Chuck and Barry scratching my mattress in the morning until I wake up and feed them; when it’s wet food time, they’re just as crazy as usual; when it’s time for a little midnight kibble, they act like they hadn’t eaten in years.

What does this hunger look like? It’s them waking me up when I’m sleeping, their face in my face. It’s them kneading me and meowing until I get out of bed. It’s them crying and coming around for pats until I realize they want me to follow them to the kitchen. This increase of affection and attention from Chuck and Barry since I stopped free feeding is what lead me to really question whether they just love me for food or if they do recognize me as their mommy.

They definitely act super interested and attached to me when they are hungry. But there are other times, when there’s no way they are hungry because they just ate, that they seek out affection, pats, and love. Right now, an hour after I fed them, Barry is laying at my feet and Chuck is laying near me on the floor. There are random times when they knead me and cry for attention but clearly aren’t just interested in food.


Chuckie starved for wet food, or starved for attention?

So what gives? I turned to some more research to try and get answers. An interview on National Geographic with John Bradshaw, a cat behavior specialist, helped shed some light on the personality of cats. One reason that Chuck and Barry might act like hungry piranhas when it’s close to feeding time is because, as Bradshaw points out, cats learn what reaction they’re going to get from certain humans. So wake me up, yell at me until I feed them? Yeah, they learned that’s when I give in and fill the food bowls.

Furthermore, unlike dogs, who see us as another species, there is nothing about cats’ behavior that indicates they recognize us as other species. Bradshaw doesn’t go so far as to say that cats think of us as gigantic furless cats, but they sure treat us like that’s what we are.

And most importantly, my favorite part of the interview, Bradshaw addresses a common cat behavior: kneading, something that both Chuck and Barry do. Kneading and purring and rubbing is something that cats usually do with their mothers. So, I wonder, what does it mean that they do it to me? Is it fair to come to the conclusion that they think of me as their mother?

So I guess now I can be honest and say I would’ve never let anybody convince me that my cats don’t love me, so maybe this blog post was done in vain. I realize that maybe they do think of me as Food Source – and that’s just one of the many reasons why they love me. They also recognize that I’ll pet them whenever they ask, clean their litter box, give them toys, and love them unconditionally. And they know that I’m Mommy.



A Day in the Life of a Cat Mom

Being a cat mom isn’t easy. Cats are weird little creatures, and Chuck and Barry are definitely no exception.

However, even though it’s hard work, being Chuck and Barry’s mom has made me happier than anything else – it’s what gets me through the day. Here is a day in the life of a cat mom. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at this past Tuesday as an example:

7:00 am

It’s not yet time for me to wake up for my internship yet, but Chuckie has apparently decided it is. He leaps into my room (he literally leaps over the threshold of my doorway) and goes, “Meow. Meow. Meow meow meow,” which means, “Mom, wake up. Pet me. Wet food.”IMG_4216

My eyes are rolling behind my eyelids, but I open them and make eye contact with one of my little princes. I pat the side of my bed and he meanders his way over for some pats. I scratch his back and his chin with as little effort as possible before I roll over to go back to sleep.

Chuckie circles my head and meows a few more times, but then Barry enters the room and he gets distracted. Barry hops on the bed and walks over me to perch on the windowsill and look at birds. Then he goes and finds a plastic bag that I didn’t even know existed and starts eating it.

Chuckie walks over and instigates a fight. Chuck and Barry wrestle before sprinting out of the room and down the stairs. I fall back asleep.

9:00 am

I’ve finally gotten out of bed, and I head downstairs into the kitchen to get a yogurt for breakfast. Chuck and Barry sense my approach and they both run into the kitchen and start meowing for wet food. Chuck stands in front of the refrigerator, literally VIBRATING in anticipation of wet food. Barry rubs himself against my legs.

But it’s not time for wet food. They don’t get wet food at breakfast time, they get it for dinner. They are about 7 hours early, so I ignore their desperate pleas and tell them that they have dry food sitting right there if they are that hungry.

Before I leave the kitchen, I refill their water bowl because there’s an unidentifiable brown object in it, along with some hairs.

12:15 pm

I eat lunch at my internship and scroll through Chuck and Barry’s Instagram, missing them way too much and excited to go home and pet them.


3:30 pm

I return home from my internship and as I open my front door, I yell out, “Kitties!!!!!!!!!”

Barry bounds into the room and hops onto the back of the couch, where it is easiest to receive pets. I give him some scratches and ask where his brother is, but I get no response.

I find Chuck in my bedroom, laying in the middle of my floor (they love sleeping on the floor). He meows his “hello” and I pet him.

4:00 pm

Wet food time!!!!!!! I go into the kitchen and start getting it prepared. Barry shows up, and I tell him to go get his brother. Chuckie appears, and they meow and circle me until I lower the plate with the crack wet food on it and they devour it like heathens.


 5:00 pm

I’m doing some stuff on my laptop, and all I want is some kitty snuggles but they are nowhere to be found.

5:15 pm

I head downstairs for some water, and that’s when I find Chuck and Barry in the second floor hallway, just laying there (they really love sleeping on hallway floors). I pet them and go on my way.

6:00 pm

It’s laundry day, and I walk into the basement to find Barry standing on the ladder, replacing a burnt out lightbulb. No, I’m kidding, he was just trying to catch a bug and I believe that he got stuck. He scrambles off and scampers up the stairs.


8:06 pm

On Tuesdays during the summer, my favorite television show, The Fosters, comes on. The hour that The Fosters is on is one of the most important hours of my life and it is my Me Time. It is when I get to take a break from everything, including being a Cat Mom. I tell Chuck and Barry this every week – I tell them it’s Mommy’s Alone Time, and to go do something somewhere else.

But do they listen to me? Of course not.

As The Fosters begins, Barry decides that it’s time to be overly affectionate and show me how much he really loves me. He plops down on my lap, gives me The Eyes, and starts making some bread. All I want to do is watch my show, but Barry’s so cute that I end up practically forgetting the show is on and petting him instead.


9:30 pm 

I’ve just emerged from my shower and I enter my bedroom. Chuckie had previously been sleeping on the floor, but when I enter he wakes up and IMMEDIATELY he starts yelling at me. “Meow! Meow meow! Meow meow meow meow meow! Meow! Meow!! Meow!!! Meow meow meow meow meow meow!” He meows so fast that I don’t know what he’s even trying to tell me.

But I do know that he wants pats, so I sit on my bed, still soaking wet in a towel, and I pet him for a good ten minutes. I finally get up to get into some pajamas. “Meow meow meow!!!” Chuckie says. I sit back down and pet him some more.

11:00 pm

I’m reading right before bed, and Chuck and Barry are both sleeping on the floor in my room. I’m a happy cat mom and I go to sleep.


An Open Letter to the Roommates Watching my Cats this Weekend

My dear three roommates,

As I prepare for my weekend trip to visit friends in New York City (more than 48 hours that I will be away from our home), I feel one emotion plaguing me: anxiety. And this anxiety exists because I will be leaving you, my dear roommates, with the most important responsibility: making sure that my cats do not die.

For the nine months that I have had Chuck and Barry, I have been the sole caretaker for them. I’m not complaining about this, but just laying it out as fact: I have been the one to feed them wet and dry food every day, give them water, clean their litter box daily, take them to the vet, bring Barry to the emergency room when he was injured, buy them toys and food and scratching posts and collars and litter, brush them, pet them. That is a responsibility that I have taken on for myself, because the cats are mine and will continue to be mine when we move out.

HOWEVER, since I have been the one to do 99.9% of the caretaking (besides for the pets that you all administer and the one or two times you fed the cats when I asked you to), it leaves me a little anxious at your ability to care for the cats. Look, I know you guys are busy with jobs, schoolwork, relationships and friends, so maybe it’ll be easy to walk by an empty water bowl and not let it register that it needs to be filled by you; it will be easy to forget to give the cats their daily wet food, because “that’s Sarah’s job, not mine”; maybe it will be easy to forget that the litter boxes are overflowing, that they need to be done every day.

What I’m saying is: taking care of the cats has always been my job and my responsibility, not yours. You don’t have to think about it every day and remember to do it. So here I am, a little bit worried that you will inevitably forget. Because I love Chuckie and Barry so much, their happiness and health is my number one priority, and I’m afraid to leave it to people who have never taken care of them before.

I know I’m overreacting and that, between the three of you at least, someone will remember to feed and water the cats. However, please excuse me as I incessantly text our group chat to make sure that somebody has, indeed, remembered to do the litter boxes; please excuse me as I ask for pictures and to FaceTime; please excuse me as I ask if they miss me or are getting enough attention.

And please, whatever you do, just feed my cats. They’re too cute to let wither away.





How do I Communicate with my Cats?

I recently stumbled upon this post from the Way of Cats Blog, and it got me thinking about the connections that I have with my cats. I love this post because it gives me more insight into the way that my cats are communicating with me.


I have very verbal kittens, and I am gradually learning what each of their meows mean. I can almost even tell the two of them apart. I know when Chuck is waking me up in the middle of the night to get pet, or when Barry is just absolutely starving for attention. I know Chuck’s little meow of approval when he’s getting petted right.

But there’s so many other meows that I have yet to understand! Why are they in the kitchen, alone, meowing? Why is Chuck crying so loudly when I am in the shower?


Pamela Merritt highlights body language and actions as a very huge part of the way that cats communicate. For me, body language and actions are even harder for me to figure out. I still don’t know what my cats want when they jump on the table. If there’s food on there, I get that. If there’s a plastic bag, I understand that they’re on the table to play with it. But sometimes there’s nothing up there. Are they up there because they want to be climb up high? Do they want my attention, thus misbehaving so that I have to pay attention to them? Have they simply just not learned yet that I don’t want them up there? Is it just a coincidence?

I want to be a great cat mom, but sometimes it’s so hard! When your children can’t actually communicate with you, it’s up to you to figure things out. When your children are another species, that makes it even more difficult.

I’m definitely going to be using this article to help improve my communication with my cats. As a loving, doting, overbearing mother, I want to give them everything they could ever want.


Six Things Chuck and Barry Ate that they Shouldn’t Have (And Two Things they Wouldn’t Eat that they Should’ve)

cats-and-tuna-sandwichWhen you get a cat, you’re not expecting them to beg for food like a vulture. Cats are refined. They might like some chicken, but you have to beg for their affection by offering food, not the other way around. But that’s not what it’s like with my cats. Chuck and Barry LOVE human food — and they’ll eat just about anything and everything. Here are some of those things that they should have never put into their little bodies:

1. Frontline Plus

I had the cats literally a day before I witnessed this one. Frontline Plus is a flea and tick preventative applied to the back of the neck where the cats aren’t able to lick it. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t lick it off each other.

I watched from across the room as Chuck licked Barry’s Frontline Plus. He did NOT like it. He also threw up a few times over the next 24 hours. I kept a close eye on him, and I was prepared to rush him to the emergency vet if I needed to, but he was otherwise fine and recovered.

2. Rubbing alcohol

While at the vet, when they got tested for feline AIDs and leukemia, they tested Chuck. He came back with a wet spot on his leg that smelled like rubbing alcohol. Of course, what does he decide to do? Lick it. And just like the Frontline, he was a very unhappy and grossed out kitty. Thankfully, though, this time he did not get sick.

3. Crown Fried Chicken

I’m honestly surprised that my cats survived eating Crown Fried Chicken, since I can only assume it’s more toxic than Frontline Plus and rubbing alcohol combined. My roommates and I accidentally left out Crown Fried Chicken and went outside. When we came back, both Barry and Chuck were face down in the chicken, gnawing on it like they hadn’t eaten for days (news flash: there’s always dry food left out for them). Cats are carnivores so I’m not worried that they ate chicken, but I am worried that it was fried fast food.

4. Iced tea

Again, my little glutton Chuck was the culprit in this case. My roommate looked at the coffee table to find him sipping her iced tea out of a cup. Apparently he liked it, and he still goes back for more. I don’t let him get his paws on it, though — iced tea, with all the sugar, isn’t good for cats.

5. Dog food

Even if some of these descriptions of Chuck and Barry’s adventurous taste buds make you think they’re dogs, they’re really not. They’re cats. But that doesn’t stop them from attempting to eat my roommate’s dog Finn’s food.

6. A Jalapeno pepper

Just guess which cat did this.

Yep, it was Chuck. My roommate had cheese fries, and Chuck was all over them…until he licked the Jalapeno pepper. Cue the disappointed head shaking and the mad dash to the water bowl. He stayed away from those cheese fries after that.

7. Cereal

chuck-and-cerealI didn’t even find out about this one until my roommate posted a photo on Instagram of Chuck taking a large bite out of his cereal. Cereal is not good for cats!

If those are the things they’ve very willing to eat (against all of my wishes), what are some of the things they refuse to eat?

1. Their antibiotics

When I first got the kitties, they had diarrhea so they were prescribed antibiotics. The antibiotic was a liquid that supposedly tasted like chicken, and I had to use a syringe to squirt some into their mouth twice a day.

They HATED it. The struggle just to get their mouth’s open lasted me almost twenty minutes, but you would think would be a lot easier considering they weighed four pounds at the time and I weigh…a lot more. They still hate anybody touching their mouths and teeth from this experience.

2. Their dewormer

I got a tapeworm dewormer for them because of the previously mentioned loose stool. The dewormer was a very large pill, so I figured I would crush it up and put it into some wet food. They love wet food, so that should be easy, right?


As you can guess, they basically refused to eat it. I solved this by repeatedly picking them up and dropping them in front of the food, so they would eat a few bites, walk away, then repeat. I felt awful forcing them to do this, but I had to, just for their sake.

I always loved cats because they’re so much less maintenance, but I’m slowly finding that’s not the case. Every day is a struggle to keep my cats off of my dinner, and I’m just hoping they stay out of the things they’re supposed to stay out of from now on.

             chuck n chinese 2.jpg     barry-at-table-2



Six Struggles of Being a College Student Cat Mom

I brought home my two little fur babies a month ago, and they’ve been the greatest addition to my life so far. However, there are some things that Chuck and Barry do that makes my life, as a college student, exponentially harder. Here are some of those things.

1. They won’t let you do your homeworkimg_0480

Here’s a picture of Chuck pawing at my hand so I can’t do my French homework. You know the drill: kitties love to walk all over your laptop, demand your attention, play with your pencil while you’re writing, sit on your notebook. They make it difficult to get anything done.

2. They hold your things hostage 

Cats attach thechuck-on-backpackkkmselves to strange things, and prefer to sleep on top of even stranger ones. For whatever reason, Barry and Chuck love laying down on my backpack. Once they’re plopped down there, they’ll cry for attention and refuse to move.

3. They keep you up all night 

Cats are independent, but sometimes they need attention, and that just happens to be around six a.m. when the normal college student is nowhere near ready to wake up. I’m often woken up in the middle of the night to a kitty crying, and the only way to stop the crying is to pet them. A lot.

4. Being a mom takes time

Cleaning the litter box, going to the store to buy food, taking the kitties to the vet, breaking up the occasional cat fight…it all takes a lot of time, and you have to find that time somewhere.

chuck-in-bed5. You don’t want to get out of bed in the morning 

College students don’t want to get out of bed in the morning to begin with, but when this is what you’re waking up to, how could you ever leave? 

6. You spend all day missing your cats

Sitting in class, all you think is “I want to go snuggle my kitties right now” and “I hope they didn’t get into the paper towels again.” It’s hard to concentrate!

Walking throubuckcherrygh the door at the end of a long day on campus is the absolute best. Oftentimes, I joke about how I’m going to drop out of college and be a full-time cat mom. I’m kidding. Kind of.

My cats are the best part of my life, but they make being a college student so hard sometimes! Tell me about your struggles with being a cat parent.