Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cooking for the Buddhist Cat

He's the most ethical person, skin or fur that I know of. He has the obligatory cat food set up: bowl for water, bowl for holistic dried kibble, always out, always changed daily. But that's not how he eats or drinks. That's only for show, and only for backup.

This cat wants his warm tea every morning, very lukewarm water mostly with two drops of fresh lemon juice in it. And the last thing at night. That's ayurvedic practice. Warm water especially with lemon removes "ama", the stuff that cruds up your intestine and oozes across into your bloodstream and lymph system, blocks chi and is a major root cause of illnesses.

After that, he wants different kinds of fresh cooked seafood (shrimp, tuna and white fish, not so much salmon as that's too oily) and different kinds of vegetables and fruit even, mashed slightly.

He loves a bit of tomato soup from time to time, rice, and curried garbanzo beans. Occasionally he'll eat a bit of red meat. He loves multi grain brown bread with sesame seeds. He hates coconut! He eats nothing larger than 1 to 2 tablespoons worth at each mealtime. He sometimes likes a bit of evaporated milk daily, then he cycles off it. He cycles on and off, e.g., a larger volume of food for a while (7 to 10 days) then off, depending on the outside temperature. I can tell from his appetite week by week what is in store weather wise.

Similarly, he'll have a yen for tuna or chicken for a week, and then not touch it for two.

Every time he "goes", he drinks water right before. If he has just eaten, he drinks water right after he goes. I watch him, and marvel. We should be that disciplined with our bodies. You can set your clock by him, he eats to a schedule, he drinks to a schedule, and his bodily functions are remarkably predictable. He is an amazing 11 years old.

He will not eat anything without asking me specifically. He has a different and specific vocalization for different levels and natures of his hunger. He will "ask" exactly three times. If still ignored, he will use the kibble bowl, sparingly. This was easy to implement because each time he went to his kibble bowl, I went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator and started preparing him something. He learned quickly.

To this day, if I have ignored him, and he's at his kibble bowl, if I can I'll go to prepare something. He will immediately cease eating kibble, and wait for me to prepare fresh food. I call that intentional behavior, awareness of choice and the ability to check his hunger for a better solution. If one out of of ten politicians had this cat's ethics there would be no wars in the world.

He gets treats (mostly vitamins and greenies) put out for him in the evening, his daily complement split into two sets: one to eat before I go to bed bed, and one to eat when he wakes up at 4am. He eats the bedtime treats, and walks by the other treats several times, before going to bed. He will not touch them until 4am.

When I started this routine, I never had to say anything except, "keep those so you'll have something for the morning". How the hell does he understand, how the hell does he do what most humans can't pass up. Treats to him are like chocolates to us.

He doesn't like red meat, though he'll eat some once in a while. He is a seafood cat. Feeding him can be frustrating, because he knows exactly what he needs and when he needs it and will not settle for anything less. Training me to fulfill his dietary needs has been monumentally difficult.

He won't eat anything I won't put in my hands or eat myself. He hates oily fatty foods. He is game to try most anything, especially I invite him to sample what I've prepared, and he always asks for a taste.

You should see his face on most of it, he screws it up and runs aways. He's funny, it's such a ritual. He's always there at dinner time "asking nicely". "Nicely" means he sits really close to my chair, puts his feet together politely and raises his head and give me an inquiring look, that says "may I please have some".

He gets green "cat plants", which I offer him once a week. It's usually after one of these sessions, and then about once a month that he'll ask to go on the patio to cough up a hairball.

I've noticed he is insistent on a particular kind of full body massage... the one that involved 600 brushes done a certain way. I practice acupressure, and know from the way he responds to therapeutic touch that this is how he helps keep his energy and internals flowing and balanced.

Course there are no oils involved, but there is sesame oil in my hand lotion, and he'll lick it off.

A small price to pay to keep him out of the hands of so many useless vets out there.

The funny thing is his former owner had no idea of what they had on their hands, and his diet was abysmal. He loves listening to classical music, even Buddhist chants and will run away when a regular radio station is on.

The best is to watch him with birds. He isn't interested in killing them, it's a bit embarrassing to watch and the birds know it - they come ridiculously close to him. If the bird get too close, HE'LL RUN AWAY! He'll sits at his safe distance and watches endlessly; when they trill and warble, he'll mimic them. He has a repertoire of trills and warbles he puts together to wake me up in the morning. And he knows the time I have to get up. If I sleep through the alarm, he's there as backup.

What's best about him, is that he'll get me up in the middle of the might if there is sometime not right going on outside the house.

Cats sleep 16 hours a day but in exchange they have exquisitely refined senses which they share with us, if only we weren't so dense to get it. In my book, they are still in and of the Garden of Eden, and came to be with us, as consolation, to guide us back.

Buddhist cat. I learn about eating to live from him the most.


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