A couple of years ago my boyfriend and Dolittler consultant extraordinaire, Dr. Marc Wosar, decided to experiment with his own cats when one of the two, sweet-faced Desdamona, began looking heftier by the month.

Something had to be done to stem the tide of fat that graced Desie’s ample mid-section. More so because she’d begun to favor her elbows in subtle ways, slowing down in her leaps and bounds and spending her only active hours of the day begging for food.

Now, Desie is a submissive cat — when it comes to everything but tasty morsels in any guise. She looooves her food bowl like most Miamians love their cell phones: They’re seldom parted. 

Whenever there’s activity in the kitchen, she’s always on hand to observe the goings-on and covet the plates of whatever meal is being served. It’s only with the rare bout of beer-making that Desie turns her nose up. (Like her pseudo-step-mom, she’s not a hops and malt kind of girl.) To make matters worse, Desie had taken to screaming her desire for food in the early morning hours long before the chime of the bedside alarm clock. Something had to be done!

The experiment referred to in paragraph one of this post involved the implementation of an automatic cat feeder. Perhaps it would displace her anxiety onto a mechanism timed to provide her with just the right amount of kibble at her twice-daily mealtimes.

The pet feeder worked for a couple of weeks. Desie was calmer and resigned herself to her fate, surrendering her beloved food to the whims of the too-small maw of an inanimate object. The trouble came with the ingenious arrival of a synaptic connection: The thing must be attacked and forced to surrender its goods.

To be fair, this was her brother Tybalt’s doing. Desie’s notoriously known as "shiny, but not too bright," unable to make mental leaps, even when it involves her beloved kibble. All that progress … down the gullet. Piles of vomit graced the floors for days after that escapade.

OK, so it didn’t work for Dr. Wosar. Since then, he’s resorted to the tried-and-true smaller portions and somehow managed to tune out Desie’s anxious pleas for food. In fact, the less he feeds, the more energy she expends in begging for more — which provides her more exercise in the form of pacing and bed-jumping than any other daily activity. In fact, Desie’s lost much of her belly fat and might even be down to 11 pounds by the look of her.

Despite Dr. Wosar’s failed attempt, automatic feeders have worked well for many of my clients. One client showed off her newly-slim kitty yesterday, offering me all the credit for having suggested a model one step more secure than the one Dr. W tried out.

Hmmm … sometimes even failed experiments have a way of working out.

Image: Yukari* / via Flickr