Two cats for Thursday morning

April 23, 2015 • 7:15 am

Every day I must receive at least fifteen items about cats from readers: photos, articles, websites, and so on (the most recent was a spate of emails about baby bobcats, who are über-cute). But were I to post all of them, this would turn into a cat website and I would be inundated with people telling me to knock it off. (By the way, don’t be one of those people.)

But today there were two cat-related items in the mail that I want to post anyway.

The first is a link, sent by reader Macro Phyte, to the tale of a finicky Irish cat named Jerry. The true story by Frank McNally, “What’s new, fussy cat? An Irishman’s Diary on Jerry, the fussy feline,” was published yesterday in the Irish Times. It’s a short but lovely account of an old cat who refuses to drink tap water, preferring rainwater or, better yet, bottled mineral water. First, here’s the curmudgeonly old moggie:

“The old fusspot absolutely refuses to drink tap-water”

And here’s the beginning of McNally’s story:

One of the side-effects of the current dry spell is that I’ve had to start buying mineral water for our ancient cat, Jerry. Being a reluctant cat owner, I consider this just the latest in a series of new lows to which he has reduced me over the years. But the problem is this – the old fusspot absolutely refuses to drink tap-water.


He instead depends on the sky to supply his needs. And this is normally a reliable source in Ireland, where the leftovers of the last shower have rarely evaporated before the next one arrives.

But over the past 10 days or so, Jerry has exhausted all his reserves – starting with the puddles; then the various containers in the back garden; then the crevices in half-full refuse sacks, and so on; until there was nothing left.

Time was I could trick him on occasion by topping some of these up from the kitchen sink when he wasn’t looking.

Or if that didn’t work, my attitude to his subsequent bouts of self-imposed dehydration was that, sooner or later, one of two things would happen – either it would rain again, or the cat would lower his standards.


But I came home of an evening recently to find that he had sought asylum with a new neighbour – a kindly Portuguese lady who had poured Volvic (non-sparkling) into a bowl. Did I know who owned him, she asked, as he lapped it up like a camel that had crossed the Sahara since his last drink: “He looked a bit . . . unhappy”.

. . . And so it has come to pass. Next time it rains, I’ll have buckets under the drainpipes. In the interim, I’m buying him mineral water: Supervalu own-brand, until he decides that’s not good enough either.

There’s a familiar pattern here vis-a-vis the cat’s ever-increasing needs – first puzzlement on my part, then resistance, then capitulation. After years of trial and error, for example, a while ago I finally discovered a brand of food he will almost always eat. It’s some sort of taste-enhanced stuff, made in France for “chats difficiles”.

So now every couple of months I have to cycle to a pet shop in Crumlin and haul back a 12-kilo bag over the handlebars.

“See this?” I told Jerry the first time, pointing at the “chats difficiles” and translating. “It means you’re a fussy c**t”, I said, “if you’ll pardon my French”.

It continues, and is worth a read, especially if you have a chat difficile. Macro Phyte adds, “Give the comments section a miss, some of them are just pointlessly anti-cat.”


And reader Grania sent a short tw**t with a great picture from the great Twi**er website Why my cat is sad:

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 6.37.33 AM

(Go here if you want to learn Irish words relating to cats.)

22 thoughts on “Two cats for Thursday morning

    1. I agree. Cats don’t like chlorinated water, but there could be other things that put the cat off tap water. There could be a good reason for the fussiness.

      1. My cat Larry will only drink from his bowl occasionally. It’s not the chlorine though – he likes to drink what remains at the bottom of the shower stall after we’ve used it. If there isn’t enough water left there he’ll stand outside it and meow for attention. We have to fill a mug from the tap and throw it into the shower. Then His Highness will deign to drink.

  1. I love the fussy cat story and can relate. We have 6 cats and have had to accommodate them in more ways than we like to admit. One of them, Peanut, is very fussy about food. There are times when he will only eat wet food off of a spoon, so we spoon feed him if that’s what he wants. He’s the most spoiled one of the bunch, but he tends to be thin, and so we go to lengths to get him to eat. Maybe I can find a photo of this to send Jerry!

  2. My cat will only drink from the sink and the tub. She refuses, unless really desperate, to drink from her dish.

    She will often stick her head right up under the tap and slurp the water drops. Little f*cker!

    1. “My” cat (not really mine) is the same way: she refuses the bowl, even going a day without water when the residents are on vacation and she has to wait for the cat feeder to show up.

      She’s also fussy about food, but in a ‘easy’ way rather than a ‘hard’ way: she’ll only eat dry cat food and standard kitty treats, not real chicken or tuna or other such meats. Loves the occasional lick of yogurt or tomato sauce and likes to try anything her momma eats, but she doesn’t really eat it. She really just wants her cat food and cat treats.

        1. My brother’s cat did that. Gave you a disgusted look if you used the toilet for its usual purpose.

          My cat prefers puddle-water but will drink tap water if that’s all he can get. He hasn’t tried the toilet because he’s scared of the bathroom.

  3. I too would suggest to experiment with the tap water, by using a water filter and by letting it age for a couple days so that the chlorine evaporates. Maybe let it sit outside in the sun for a day or two (the water, not the cat).
    Also, it might not hurt to then ‘bottle’ this water to Confuse-A-Cat.

  4. Last year, driving across country, I was listening to a program about how to clean up really difficult messes. The subject at the moment was cleaning up after cats. The guest remarked that cats “would do everything they could think of to make life difficult for their owners (peeing on windowsills, etc.)”. The above stories plus the post are just more confirmation of that quote.

    1. Cats that do that sort of thing have some sort of a need that needs to be remedied.

      It might be something as simple as keeping the litterbox clean and pleasant, or it could be as serious as a symptom of a life-threatening disease.

      Basically, if your cat is peeing somewhere inappropriate, find out why ASAP and fix the root cause. Don’t hesitate to call your vet for help, and especially if the problem persists. Most especially if the problem starts all of a sudden, and most emphatically especially if the problem is associated with loss of appetite or lethargy.


  5. Basically, that’s what the cleanup lady said. By the way, the name of her book was “My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag and Other Things You Can’t Tell Martha.” I guess the book tells how to clean the handbag but I disagree with that entire premiss. Every Man Jack out there should know that if he barfs in his girlfriend’s handbag, she should NEVER have to clean the bag. Instead,it’s up to him to buy her a new bag, twice as expensive and twice as pretty.

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