News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

March 5, 2012

MIKE LUNSFORD: Feeding time at the homestead draws a host of new guests

I stepped outside into the warmth of an unusually mild early March morning last week to do what I always do just before I grab my briefcase and book bag and lunch bag and head off to work. It’s nearly always dark when I leave, even as the sun gets up earlier and earlier in the late winter, so I often go about the business of feeding our cats with porch lights on and a flashlight in hand.

It has been an unwritten agreement between my wife and me that I feed our outdoor felines in the mornings as she tackles her make-up and breakfast rituals. She, on the other hand, has evening duty, most often heading out to the barn or back porch by the time I have my nose stuffed in a book or a blanket pulled up to my chin.

This winter, our cat food consumption has skyrocketed — we have considered investing heavily in Purina stock — and it’s taken no more than a few minutes with our noses pressed to our backdoor glass to figure out why: Our cats are having friends over for dinner.

Certainly, our big, old orange tabby cat, Max, is one of the culinary culprits. Normally slim in the summer, Max has swelled to Ralph Kramden-like proportions this winter as age and a general lack of interest in exercise have caught up to him. He tends to eat in increments — a morsel here, a morsel there — but by the end of the day, he has taken in some serious calories. He apparently thinks birds are now beyond his pudgy grasp, and I haven’t seen him with a mouse or shrew in his mouth for several years. Some brain activity must pulse behind that dim-witted look of his, for he’s always around come feeding time.

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