I recently bought some Weruva “Grandma’s Chicken Soup” cat food which my thoughtful Calico enjoyed rapturously, lapping it up from the counter before I could place it on the floor. Finicky eaters, it’s not everyday one can summon such canine thoughtless behavior. Weruva’s marketing tag is “people food for pets,” as corroborated by such anthropomorphic entrees “Outback Grill” and “Asian Fusion,” among many delectable others. A 5.5 oz. can cost me $2.25 at a cute locally owned pet store Pawtrero (a pun on Potrero, the neighborhood in which it, and I, reside) and my cat has since refused to eat anything else, except for its own hair and, unwittingly, ossified fecal matter around its anus.
For those who believe they are lonely, whose recent break ups or absent relationships give them something to be sad about, a visit to the cat food section at PetCo may make you feel chipper, for they are populated by special kinds of sad women (colloquially known as “cat ladies”) who stare deeply — purrhaps past, confronting a dark manless void — at the very items (feather on a stick, toy mice, scooper, calming spray) for which they disorientingly came. We all kind of nervously pass one another in tight aisles, our commitment phobias and intimacy boundaries jangled up by senseless loneliness and the impulse to fuck, or just cuddle, something attached to a pulse.
When I opened the can, I was met by chicken soup that looked, smelled, and — as I later confirmed, tasted — pretty much like the canned chicken soup which I eat, one Health Valley Chicken Noodle Soup, whose sodium Nutrition facts are only bearable because there’s no salt added. I may sauté some garlic and shallots for flavor, before pouring in the can with a wet clunk, maybe add some orzo for a full meal. But usually I just eat the can “as is” while thinking about the solemn yet pretentious ideal placement of my urn, on the highest shelf in a dank mausoleum, roped off by spiderwebs.
Weruva boasts “our formulas are produced in a human food facility using many of the ingredients and processes that are used in products made for people,” which may explain why I ventured a spoonful. The broth was a little thicker, and dare I say the chicken even better. Standing over the sink (in case I hurled) reduced to eating cat food, I had a vision of the type of man I had become. It hurts when my cat goes off to another room, her raised tail operating as a middle finger. Past girlfriends have offensively retreated similarly, and likewise, I swallowed the hard knob of minor abandonment.
I get my Health Valley soup for $3.99 at an overpriced local organic store manned by Muslims who have successfully ventured into the inflated market of ostensibly moral food. Some simple math will turn my 15 oz. can into $0.26 per oz. — and any reader acclimated to elementary rhetoric should have a sense of what I will say next — that my cat, named “Bunnie” with semantic oblivion by its previous owner, is eating at $0.40 per oz., which is 153% better than me. When I first discovered this, I became upset at my cat, myself, and free-market capitalism, whose innate logic seems to have disturbed the serene and precedent food chain of which I considered myself at the top.
The plan is simple. Every time I buy a can of Health Valley Chicken Noodle Soup, in order that I don’t slowly go bankrupt by this damn cat, I will get a can for it. Together, we will eat; hers room temperature, mine scalding hot; hers with a side of catnip, mine with some Zoloft. We’ll watch — or rather, sleep next to — some network prime time TV, she obediently curled up next to the couch on which I lie. Occasionally, a text notification will break the calm, and we both sigh at this mystery person. Jimmie Kimmel will be my cue that it’s time for bed. Bunnie will watch me floss, chasing bits of post-meal fly from my gums in long arcs, expectantly looking for something more humane, better, only to be met with what she too ate. True love is equal. In bed, she’ll gently knead my chest, irrationally coaxing milk that isn’t there. I’ll say “sorry,” using that human word whose embarrassed sound is universal. She’ll look at me with her own silent word, and leave.