Some things in life get learned quickly, other things seem to take their sweet old time.

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When I was 55 years old, I finally learned how to shave! To be more precise, I learned how to shave my face in a way that would not leave me with splotchy rashes on my throat and cheeks. I won’t go into details here but it will suffice to say that I had to learn not to be too fussy about shaving almost below skin level. Yes, it felt better while I was shaving to feel no stubble, but my skin would always react by erupting into spotty bruising, an abrasion, other wise known as ‘shaving rash.’ So it took me awhile to understand that if I only accepted that I would always have some short stubble, the splotchy rash would go away and not return.

That’s just an example of how sometimes something that may seem obvious may also take a long time to learn.

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So here’s my rescue cat, Sasha. She replaced a magnificent cat, Helen, so named because she had a face that was so beautiful it could launch a thousand catamarans. Helen was a totally self-regulating feeder. We’d put out dry food and water and she would make her way through it at a slow but steady pace. Very little cat puking with Helen.

Lots of puking with Sasha. Sasha, who never responds to her name, doesn’t seem to mind if I call her “Splotch” instead. Heck, I could call her “Boris” if I wanted to, the effect would be the same.

After our experience with Helen, we were astonished when Sasha, who seemed not to touch her water, went to the vet because she stopped eating. Vet’s diagnosis: She’s constipated due to dehydration. Water had always been available to her but she wouldn’t touch it. We then went through the complete gamut of cat-watering solutions. “Cats prefer moving water,” we’d heard. We bought the cat an expensive, plug-in device that acted like a little recycling fountain. Sasha wouldn’t go near it. “Let the cat drink from the toilet.” Okay. Top lids up folks. No. Nothing.

I arrived at what seemed to be an acceptable solution by buying wet canned food then mixing it with substantial amounts of water such that every meal was like a stew rather than like a mounded casserole. That worked. It kept her hydrated well enough to avoid on-going illness.

Ten years passed.

I had to go away for a few days and my neighbour fed the cat instead. I came back home to discover that in my absence Sasha had become a water drinker!

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Some cats, it seems, get fussy about how their water is presented to them. If you see a cat drinking water by dipping in her paw, that’s an indicator of the same phenomenon. The solution is simple. Don’t put more than a ½” depth of water in the bowl. The cat, who finds it difficult to judge where the water surface might be, will get used to the shallow water offering and will drink without fear of going in too deeply.

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The downside is that the water must be refreshed regularly and the cat’s urine output will increase too, but I can’t help thinking that I now have an essentially healthier cat. So thanks, neighbour! Splotch thanks you too, I know she does.

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