Jennifer, we need to have a talk. Please take a seat on the—or just flop on the table like a beached whale, that’s fine too. Before I begin, I want you to know I love you unconditionally, and I think you’re beautiful, a squishy sphere of cuteness, no matter if you have the size, shape, and elasticity of an exercise ball, no matter if you roll down the stairs each morning like Thud Butt in Hook, no matter if you waddle like a ship on stormy seas. I see the radiant soul beneath the layers and layers of dense lipidy goo. Your role as the primary affection receptacle remains unaffected, has only grown in fact, particularly after Human Jennifer left to “find a boyfriend with a real job.” More to love, more to squeeze, that’s what I say.
However, I’m worried about your health. We all have our character flaws, and I’m afraid yours, sweet babe, is gluttony, unmitigated binge eating worthy of a TLC reality show. While other cats nibble and chew, you draw the entire bowl into your gullet with one colossal slurp. Your jaw seems to unhinge and your eyes roll back as you enter a hideous Dionysian fugue state, belly ballooning outward, a deep rumble from your guts: the purr of a hungry Ving Rhames, not a housecat.
Your brother, Brian, on the other hand, simply stops eating when he’s full. From the time he was a kitten, he’s adhered to the Okinawan principle of hara hachi bu (eating until 80% full), regardless of how much food I dump in his bowl, to the point where he’s so tiny he sometimes sleeps on your belly like it’s a beanbag. So my dilemma as the food provider is: how do I feed you two when one eats till he’s sated and one gobbles till not a speck remains and then bullies the other into giving up his food? Hmm? I guess I’ll have to serve Brian’s meals in private from now on.
We also have to discuss your hygiene. Don’t get offended, but since losing the ability to lick below your chin, you look like you rolled in a dumpster, and your fur is strewn with excrement. Personally, I’m rather fond of the smell of cat excrement as it’s a comforting sign my sweet babe’s body is being nourished properly, and I find the tactile sensation of your scraggly, flaky fur stimulating to pet. Others, though, like my mom or Human Jennifer—if she ever comes back (please God)—will be repulsed. As a cat, it is your responsibility to bathe yourself, not mine, unless you want to go in the bathtub. Do you? Do you want to go in the bathtub? I tell you, you do NOT, Jennifer. Because if I have to plop you in the bathtub, you’ll wish you’d never been born under my great aunt’s fainting couch.
Please don’t look at me like that. Look, we had our fun when I photographed you dressed you up like Santa Clause, Vladimir Harkonnen, and a giant boulder rolling toward an Indiana Jones action figure. Or at least, I had fun. But now it’s time to address the cold hard reality: diabetes, Jennifer. Diabetes. It doesn’t only strike human grandpas but morbidly obese kitties as well, and I feel if I’m forced to inject you with insulin every day, our relationship will suffer. As for heart disease, you practically have a heart attack when I order a pizza or take out the can opener. You won’t last five seconds with coronary artery disease.
I know what you’re thinking. You think this is all because Human Jennifer called you “bovine” as she left, that I think you’re the reason she’s gone. I promise that’s not true. Understand, while the Love between humans and cats is an indestructible bond, the “love” between two humans is flimsy like tissue paper, torn asunder as soon as one human meets a much handsomer human at Groupon, who can afford nice Banana Republic shirts and probably eats sushi every day because he can, and he sends her a friend request, and she tells me he’s just some guy, BUT I KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON JENNIFER I SEE HIM IN YOUR PHOTOS WITH HIS TIGHT POLO SHIRTS WHY WASN’T I INVITED TO THAT CHRISTMAS PARTY AND WHY WAS IT AN ALL-NIGHT CHRISTMAS PARTY I’LL CLEAN THE LITTER BOX TOMORROW DAMMIT.
The point is: I bought you this cat exercise wheel so you could slim down and fit inside a covered litter box again. Won’t that be great? It’s like a hamster wheel but for cats. You run in it for, say, 20 minutes a day, and then eventually—no, you run in it. You run in it, Jennifer. Don’t lie down in the exercise wheel; it’s not a bed. Okay, I’ll just turn the wheel a few times to get you started. Really, Jennifer? You’re just going to roll through the wheel like a big fat furry potato? Guess what, missy. No pizza for dinner tonight!