The Extortionist (#281)

Our new cat didn’t just come with attitude. She also came with a serious weight problem. Boss Cat was big for a female cat, with large feet, a long body, and a very long tail. But you couldn’t say she was merely “big boned.” Like Garfield, her belly bulged over her feet. She could only play with a string for about 2 minutes before she got winded, even though she was only 2 years old.

We promised the rescue group we would put her on a diet. We bought  special “Fat Cat” food and doled it out by an eighth of a cup.  At the time, I wondered why her foster dad had let Boss get so fat.

After 2 days, I no longer wondered. If Boss Cat was hungry, she was relentless. She would jump up in front of the TV. If no one would feed her, she would fling remotes and speakers out of the entertainment center. If you tried to pick her up, she’d bite you before dashing behind the monitor in order to have a more advantageous ambush position.

She would only jump down if she saw you walking toward her food bowl.

Writing while the Boss was dieting? LOL. The hungry cat whacked all items off of my desk. If I still didn’t feed her, she’d attack my fingers.

Then she’d bolt behind the monitor. Boss Cat knew I wouldn’t risk squirting her with the spray bottle if she was shielded by electronics. She knew I’d eventually cave and put a little more kibble in her bowl.

The claws are blurry because they move so fast.

If we were trying to sleep? Everything on the bedside table must go!

If we closed our bedroom door? Everything on the kitchen counter must go! Preferably at 2 AM.

No food was safe from Boss Cat. Dinner prep was fraught. You couldn’t grate cheese without cat burglary. You dared not take your eyes off chicken or meat. In desperation we’d sometimes locked her in the bathroom.

When she broke out, she swatted two covered dishes off the counter and gobbled down butter amidst broken pottery.

We got a wooden bread box to protect our baked goods. She sat on it, broke it, and broke into it. We found only plastic packaging when we returned from a soccer game.

We got a stainless steel breadbox. We got an airtight, plastic butter dish.

As she lost weight, Boss Cat got meaner. And faster. She made off with egg yolks and ate holes in pies. She even chowed down on the brown rice and tofu I foolishly left on the counter. “What cat eats tofu?!” I railed at her as she smugly washed her face.

Boss Cat did. She ate broccoli, lettuce, and tortilla chips, too.

Until she found the most efficient way to extort food.

She ran outside.

Boss Cat was supposed to be an indoor cat. Between cars and coyotes, it’s not safe for cats outside in California. There are also raccoons and feral cats. Not to mention the fact that cats are an invasive species that has decimated the American songbird population. (Even the most inept housecat kills about 4 birds a year if allowed to roam.)

But it’s very, very hard to keep a bold cat inside, especially when you have dogs and a four-year-old boy. Baby D wasn’t always careful to check for the cat when he ran out the door to play.

Usually one of us could catch Boss Cat with a flying tackle. Until the night she got past us and straight up a tree.

We lured her down with chicken.

That may have been a mistake.

From that moment on, Boss Cat became a dedicated door dasher. Once she made it past the threshold, though, she would pause and pointedly look back at us: “Well, humans? Where is the chicken to which I have become accustomed?”

She was clever. Sometimes Boss Cat would hide on a dining room chair, hidden by a tablecloth, waiting for her chance to bolt through the front door.

Other days she’d stare out the window until she saw Andy coming home from work. Then she’d position herself behind a chest and zip through the door the second it opened. Andy learned to enter messenger bag first, holding it in front of him like a shield.

I learned to escape out the backdoor by blocking Boss Cat with my purse while she hissed protests.

Boss Cat retaliated with an Odysseus move, lurking under our ninety-pound dog Woofie’s belly when he wanted to go outside. We’d open the backdoor and Boss would be off like a shot. If you chased her, she’d head straight for a tree.

A housecat’s top speed is about 30 mph, in case you were wondering. Faster than Woofie, the Labrador mix. Far faster than non-Olympic calibre humans.

We gave into the inevitable and bought Costco’s six-pack of canned chicken. Then we bought her a little canned cat food, too.

After all, she’d lost about 3 pounds. Boss Cat deserved a little treat.

And her humans deserved a little peace.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

20 thoughts on “The Extortionist (#281)”

  1. She doesn’t look super fat in the video. Or maybe she’s just covering her rolls with her front legs, hehe. Did you manage to make her lose more weight?

    When we got Nico, she was super fat too. 40 kg. We managed to get her down to 26. She was on a very frugal diet for the rest of her life. She was always hungry, but happy and healthy (until she was not. Maybe her hips had worked too hard during those years that she was overweight). I also made her walk way more than she was happy with. At the beginning she would just suddenly collapse and refuse to keep walking and I would feel everybody was staring at me, the foreigner that couldn’t control her rebellious fat dog, haha.

    1. LOL, Nico was a pretty stubborn girl. Good job taking the weight off her. It probably helped save her hips longer for sure. That’s the main reason we put Boss on a diet–to keep her joint intact as long as we could.

      You are right! Boss was probably about the slimmest she’d ever been in that video. She got sick last year and quit eating! (The good thing about a hungry cat is that you can tell they are sick pretty quickly.) We have a great vet who stayed open late for us. She gave Boss some antibiotics and fluids and an appetite stimulant (once cats quit eating, sometimes it’s very hard to get them to start again). Boss recovered very well, but she was probably down to about 11 lbs in that video. I think she’s back up to 12 or so now. When we were away for Christmas, our cat sitter fed her wet food AND kept her bowl of kibble overflowing. Boss was in heaven.

  2. What a wonderful story. I like Boss Cat’s attitude, but then I’m not living with her. She’s a pretty girl and clever. We had a cat like Boss Cat who managed to be an indoor/outdoor cat, live a long life, and who was always hungry. Good luck.

    1. Her attitude is hilarious. Until she snags your finger and starts dragging it toward her jaws.

      Some cats can indeed manage to be indoor outdoor. It helps if you can keep them indoors until they are less young and impulsive.

  3. Your stories about Boss cat are very amusing, and your determination to help her get to a healthy weight is commendable.You could practically integrate her ‘escape’ into her meal plan no?

    Our current cat we call our ‘cow cat’ since every time we take her outside she bolts to our backyard and starts eating grass…..we let her graze for a few minutes and then she wants to come back inside.

    1. Yeah, Boss helps herself to Andy’s “cover crop” in the garden every so often. Which is better than the dog that tries to eat my freesia!

      I figure Boss Cat expends a lot of cardio energy in the “escape,” so it works out. 🙂

  4. I’m tempted to ask, “What human eats tofu?!” – but I will give a shout out to miso soup, one of my faves.

    My cat sounds like a downright angel compared to yours!

    1. I love tofu! Never had it as a kid, but it pretty much soaks up any flavor and is nice and tender. My husband’s pan fried balsamic coated tofu is fantastic, as is spicy Thai tofu.

      Most cats are pretty laid back compared to Boss Cat. She makes for great stories, though.

  5. I had a houdini cat a long time ago. She was indoor/outdoor but mostly indoor. She wasn’t allowed out if I’d be gone for a while (like for work). She could dart between my legs so fast I didn’t even see her. I am in heaven now. None of my four have any interest in going out. Sometimes I think if you don’t let them out at all, it’s easier. As for diets, yikes. New cat Sasha is plumping up. She’s gained 4 pounds in a year. No good.

      1. No one else likes food like Sasha so she will sneak in and eat their portion. Gracie takes a bite and then takes a walk. Sometimes when she comes back, it almost all gone. I’ve stopped feeding Morgan wet food unless she is in position or it’s futile and for Mollie, I close the door so she can eat in peace. She is worse than Hazel was. She will yell and scream if she doesn’t get food.

  6. My suggestion would be food toys, those treat balls that you can get for them to knock around so biscuits fall out. Bored cats need occupation especially if they always are indoors.

    1. The problem with food toys is that the dogs love them. The cat…not so much. But we definitely play all kinds of chase the string with her. And she plays with Woofie, too, which is pretty funny.

      1. It helps to make sure they are hungry first (so feed less) and demonstrating to them how to do it can also be helpful. Good luck! If you Google ISFM and “environmental needs” there’s a good paper about getting indoor cats more active by providing opportunities for natural behaviours

  7. What a cat!!! That video of the cat clawing at your hand made me laugh. I’ve never heard of such a destructive cat, lol. I don’t think my husband would have the patience to put up with Boss. Props to you and Andy!

    The cats with personality are always the best, though. I’m sure there’s lots of kitty love gained from all that “pain”

    1. Well, when the Cat from Hell comes to your lap to purr, it really does feel like an honor. They have variable conditioning down, for sure.

      And you need a Boss Cat to show dogs who is boss.

  8. When we last moved I had to switch vets. Our indoor, except for balconies, cat looks fat but is really just super fluffy. I let the vet lecture me for about two mins while he carried her over to the scale. 12 lbs. the look on his face was priceless. Someone called her a “big girl, later while I was paying out front and he was super quick to correct them. It was nice.

    1. Bahahahaha! That is awesome. Sadly, Boss is not a fluff queen. Our special cat vet is pretty nice about it, especially after I explained that we can either sleep at night or have a skinny cat. We cannot have both.

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