In the mornings, when the house was still quiet and the sky was still dark, I would lay in bed and savor the few minutes I had to myself. Or rather, I would try to savor them. Often, our fur-babies would sense that I was awake and immediately demand my attention in some form or another. Kira, our 4-year-old Siberian Husky, and Abby, our 5-year-old rescue cat, would frequently wake me up before my morning alarm. This morning, however, I had several precious minutes to myself.
With all the grace of an elephant, I hauled myself out of bed. Involuntarily, my hand went to my stomach and rested on the bump that grew larger every day. My first human baby was due in a little less than a month and the fur-babies had already grown curious about their new sibling. Abby would often lay in my lap and rub her head against my belly. When she purred, I wondered if the little one inside me could hear it.
I tiptoed my way out of the bedroom, but my stealth proved ineffective. Abby quickly realized I was awake and came sprinting into the hallway to join me. She wound her way between my legs and meowed up at me. I smiled down at her and shook my head. I knew exactly what she wanted. It was the same thing she wanted every morning.
“You know your food comes at 7:00,” I told her. “You’re going to have to wait, little love.”
Abby’s automatic cat feeder
Acting as though she didn’t comprehend a single thing I said, Abby dashed ahead of me and jumped up to her food station. The automatic cat feeder we’d bought for her was programmed to rotate at 7 AM, giving her access to her morning allotment of food. At her last annual visit, the vet suggested using an automated pet feeder instead of allowing her to feed freely. He believed it would help Abby lose a bit of weight by portioning out her food over the course of the day.
Did she lose weight? Yes. Did she discover the concept of time and learn to demand early feedings at 6:30 AM? Also, yes.
I gave her a few conciliatory scratches under her chin and reassured her that she was not, in fact, starving to death. Unimpressed with my chin-scratching capabilities, she quickly sauntered back to the bedroom to try her luck with my husband.
I heard the tic tic tic of little paws on the hardwood floor as Kira joined me. I gave her a few scratches under her chin and was rewarded with several kisses. At least someone in this house appreciated my chin scratches. With a loud yawn, Kira made her way to her food bowl and looked back at me with expectant eyes. I walked over to her, gave her two scoops of food and left her to her breakfast.
As I made my way to the kitchen, I got the sudden feeling that I was being watched. Turning slowly, I saw Abby standing in the hallway, glaring at me through narrowed eyes. She saw me give food to her sister. Given the look in her eye, I had no doubt that she was planning her retaliation against me for such a gross injustice.
Abby’s excitement at the sound of the automatic cat feeder
We stared at each other for a moment, then the tell-tale noise of her electronic pet feeder rotating sent her into action. Filled with the spirit of her cheetah ancestors, Abby sprinted down the hallway towards me. She was a blur of motion, a streak of orange and black, as she leapt up to her food station.
I quickly backed a safe distance away and hid my smile as Abby quickly began to devour her breakfast. With both fur-babies occupied, it was time for me to have my own breakfast. I helped myself to a banana muffin and a glass of milk. I packed my lunch and finished my morning routine, all while debating whether I should help myself to a second muffin. Eventually I did. After all, I was eating for two.
Abby, with her own hunger now sated, regarded me with judgmental eyes, but I pretended not to notice. As I enjoyed my second muffin, I had a fleeting moment of pride. Despite Abby’s disgruntled attitude in the mornings, I knew that I did a good job keeping my fur-babies healthy and happy. Their affection towards me and my growing baby bump had begun to give me confidence in my mothering capabilities.
With that pleasant notion in mind, I tended to the last chore in my morning routine: filling Abby’s feeder for the rest of the day. I opened the lid of the feeder and removed the tray. There were six compartments, like slices of pie, that rotated into place at pre-programmed times throughout the day.
I measured food into each of the compartments of the automatic cat feeder and then began to add her Greenies, the dental treats she loves more than any other cat treat. I added three Greenies to each compartment and closed the lid of the feeder. With my final chore completed, I walked back to the bedroom to say goodbye to my husband. Kira was with him, curled up on my side of the bed. She regarded me with sleepy eyes as I gave my husband a kiss and gathered my things for work.
I gave Kira a kiss on the top of her head and told her that I’d be home from work before she knew it. I scanned the bedroom for Abby, intending to say goodbye, but couldn’t find her. Perhaps she really was angry with me for the events of this morning. Shaking my head, I walked down the hall towards the front door. As I passed into the living room, I heard a loud crunching noise coming from Abby’s food station. She’d already had her breakfast, so what in the world was she eating? Confused, I went to investigate.
What I saw made me laugh aloud. In the ultimate “pregnant brain” moment, I had forgotten to put the tray containing all of Abby’s food back in the automatic cat feeder. I had left all six compartments easily accessible and Abby had jumped at the opportunity. Upon closer inspection, I realized that she had selectively eaten all the Greenies from each compartment. She’d eaten an entire daily allotment of treats in one sitting! And I had no one to blame but myself.
Just moments before, I had been congratulating myself on my exemplary pet-parenting skills; I was certain that I would be an excellent mother to my human baby as well. Now, I watched as Abby licked her lips and regarded me with an air of triumph. Laughing at myself, I placed the tray inside the feeder and secured the lid. I double checked that everything was set correctly before turning back to Abby. She looked up at me with wide green eyes. I pointed to my stomach.
“You can thank your little sister for that one, Abigail. She’s not even here yet and you’ve already won her over!”
Abby rubbed her head against my stomach and purred up at me. Against my better judgment, I indulged her with a few quick scratches behind her ears. I didn’t doubt for a moment that Abby and her little sister would be partners-in-crime and it was in that moment that I realized I would soon have a lot more to worry about than just a few stolen Greenies.