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Old Cats and Small Portions

Sabrina, the oldest of our four cats, is around 13 years old now.  It’s hard to believe because she still looks the same as she did when we adopted her in 2005.  We actually got a discount on her adoption fee because she was ‘old’ already, at nearly four years.  Ironically, we went in with firm intentions of adopting a kitten, and then old lady Beanie won me over with her sweet personality.

Sabrina, our fluffy girl (also called Beanie)

Sabrina/Beanie, years ago…looking the same as she does now.  😉

So anyway, she’s getting up there – nearly 68 in human years, according to this chart the vet gave us a few years ago.  For the past couple of weeks, we’ve noticed she’s having trouble jumping onto the couch and our bed.  A couple of times she’s leaped and then gotten smacked squarely in the chest by the couch, so now she’s unsure of herself.  She’ll sit in front of the couch, start to crouch for a jump, then spring up and put her paws on the couch instead.  Kind of like how I used to run toward the vault in gym, then flinch and stop right before I hit the springboard.

At night, I’m sometimes woken up by a thump against the bed.  The first time this happened, I awoke and instinctively reached over for Toby, our dog.  Toby, who died a couple of years ago, did this exact same thing when he started aging.  He’d jump up, kind of flump against the side of the mattress, then slide back down to the floor.  When you’re in bed, sound asleep, it is VERY startling and it will instantly wake you up.  Even though I can’t hear anything at night – he could have been barking at me, for all I know – I immediately woke up when I felt the impact against the bed.  That’s how it felt when Sabrina started doing it, even though she’s much smaller than Toby.

For a while I’d just wake up, get out of bed and pick her up.  (She likes to sleep between me and Dave, with her head and paws on the left side of my pillow, above my head.)  Then I mentioned it to Dave, and he engineered a brilliant solution:  he brought up the hassock from downstairs.  It’s about six inches shorter than the bed, the perfect height for Beanie to jump onto.  As he placed the hassock at the end of the bed, he sighed and said, “I’ll bet I forget this is here and trip over it in the middle of the night.”

Guess what happened the night before last?  Poor Dave.  Hopefully his toes will survive until he gets used to the new bedroom furniture.

* * *

I have just a little, bitty pet peeve to sound off about:  food portion sizes.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a recipe boasting something like ‘Only 279 calories per portion!’, then you read the recipe and see they’ve divided it into seven miniscule portions.  THAT DOES NOT HELP.  Either you eat the one tiny portion and a million other things to keep from starving, or you eat four tiny ‘portions’ in order to get a decent amount of food, feel satisfied, and eat nearly 900 calories instead.  It’s crazy.

I was already aware of that trick on packaged food – you’d see, I don’t know, something like one bean burrito in a package, read the calories (“Oh, 300 calories, not too bad”) and then realize it says there’s two portions in the one-burrito package.  So you eat the whole burrito, for 600 calories, and feel kind of piggish because damn, you ate twice the serving size.

Recipes, though, are just as bad.  I just made a recipe that consisted of some veggies and eight ounces of pasta.  We don’t have soup or salad with dinner, and with a pasta meal we don’t have a side dish – that’s it.  Dave might have a piece of bread with pasta, but I usually forgo it.  I know one serving of pasta is two ounces (ridiculously small) but we usually eat eight ounces of pasta between the two of us – sometimes we have leftovers if there’s a lot of extra stuff mixed in.  I looked at this recipe and saw it was calculated at NINE SERVINGS.  Less than two ounces per person.  And it’s meant to be the main dish of the meal.  I call bullshit.

I have to recalculate just about every recipe I make, and turn it into a normal-human-being portion size.  I have my ways of saving calories – a little less cheese, plain fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream, less butter, less oil – and the calories become manageable while the food stays tasty.  I would rather eat one 600 calorie portion that will fill me up.

I know it’s not that big of a deal, and I know it’s a scam the recipe sites use to make things look low-calorie, and I know how to get around it.  But I don’t want to get around it.  I want them to stop being idiots.

Okay – I’ve unfolded my arms and stopped scowling.  I feel better now.  I’m off to make some creamy zucchini soup for lunch … using the recipe that I’ve changed to four servings instead of six.

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