Feral cat addicted to McDonald’s requires training to eat normal cat food again

Credit Ben Curran / Fairfax

Credit Ben Curran / Fairfax

A number of us that visit Whaleoil have identified with Cam’s struggles over the years.  It’s because a lot of us have similar ones.  Be they alcoholism, depression, personality disorders, brain chemistry issues, addictions, or what have you.

Some of us have won some battles, some of us slip back again only to fight the same battles again.

What makes Cameron’s struggle so valuable is that it has been in public, and we’ve all been able to root for someone that is deeply flawed.  Just like us.

His critics attack him for it.  His critics attack him through his flaws (they try to!).  But his critics are cowards who don’t expose their own demons.  Their infidelities, their child and wife beatings, their own struggles with drugs, food, weight, being deadbeat parents, and their tenuous grip on their own sanity in a stressful world.

What does all of this have to do with a feral cat being addicted to McDonald’s you may ask?

Almost 3 years ago, on Anzac Day, I finally conquered the vicious grip that alcohol had on me.  It wasn’t easy, and the year that followed was truly hard.  I had given up before, and been dry for some years.  But I had made the mistake of believing I could start again and control it.

I know better now.

Last year, I realised that I got on top of that demon sufficiently for it no longer to be a daily or even weekly struggle, and so it was time to start working on some other behavioural flaw.

I had fallen into the habit of buying my breakfasts at the McDonalds drive-through most mornings, and some lunches, and some dinners.  I was eating McDonalds 5-10 times a week.  If I had to be honest with myself, I didn’t even like eating it most of the time.  McDonalds, and BK and KFC for that matter, where just lazy ways to get some food.  My life was “too busy” and it was a “too easy” way to feed myself.

So easy that I would arrange appointments in such a way to ensure that I would be able to get my breakfast on the road between 10 and 10:30am on the way to an appointment. (How’s that for truly addictive behaviour?)

So last year I put a stop to that.  Anzac Day 2013 will be my first year clean of that kind of food.

Now, don’t get me wrong – those sorts of meals are just fine in moderation.  I’m not suggesting everyone avoid them altogether.  But here is what happened to me when I gave up McDonalds:

I was sick and had a “hang over” for several days.

Which leads neatly into this story about a feral cat that ended up being in a pretty poor state on a McDonalds diet.

For the past year patrons of the Frankton McDonald’s have been known to grab an extra burger, for the cat who lived in the restaurant’s car park, even to the point where he could barely eat anything else.

But the days of cheeseburgers and fries are over for “Frankie the Frankton Maccas Cat”, with the fast-food loving feline now safe in the care of the Waikato SPCA.

“He’s on a strict cat food-only diet now,” said Waikato SPCA field officer Jessica Watson.

Affectionately dubbed “Frankie” by McDonald’s workers, the black and white cat has been resident under the Golden Arches for the past year or so, ever since the residents of a nearby block of flats were evicted and the then-kitten was left behind.

Frankie set up shop in the car park to survive and quickly learned to follow cars as they came through the drive-through, running up to windows and waiting for patrons to throw him the odd chicken nugget or hunk of beef patty.

But a year of living rough – and a diet of fast food – took its toll and despite attempts by McDonald’s workers and concerned members of the public to catch him, Frankie started to slip into bad health.

“When I first took him home he refused to eat anything because it wasn’t McDonald’s and I seriously considered going back there to get him a burger.

“I would put pet food down and he would give me a look like ‘What is that?’

When it comes to addictive behaviours, I seem to be a top performer.  So I know it well enough:  unless you got to “that point”, then simply knowing you’re stuffing it up isn’t enough.  We all know we’re doing the wrong thing.  That’s the amazing conundrum about it all.  The simple secret is that you actually need to want to change more than you want to continue.  And that moment can take a while to arrive.

My biggest addictions over the last three years have been food, sugar and caffeine.  And you may have noted I was in hospital a few weeks ago.  Otherwise healthy, I’m overweight and was experiencing pain more severe than experienced during labour (confirmed by many – I can’t give a first hand account of this).

A chronic and intense pain does focus the mind, and I had already changed my diet to start some serious weight loss.  I cut out my 1-2 litre a day Coke habit, but I couldn’t do without the caffeine.  So I started drinking Coke Zero instead.

Weight loss was going well, I was feeling great, and I thought I had finally licked it.

And then I ended up in hospital.

Must be the Coke Zero, I decided.  Something in the Coke syrup.  So being the caffeine junky that I am, I switched to V instead.   Problem?  Not long after, I started to feel I was back on the same path that saw me stay in hospital for a week not that long ago.

Damn it.  It’s the caffeine.  Stupid.

I’ve resisted this moment.  I’ve twisted through every loophole.  I’ve taken every way to try to blame everything else.  But my body is over it.  To my body, alcohol, sugar, excessive fat and caffeine are now toxins.

So, I may be a few weeks short, but Anzac Day 2013 will be the marker for when I gave up caffeine after 30+ years of excessive consumption.

How can we be so smart, and yet so fallible?

Perhaps this post is your wake-up call to re-think what you’re doing to yourself that you know is wrong.  You know it has to end at some stage.  Maybe this is the nudge you needed to make today the day.

One thing I know for sure.  I have never met anyone that’s as perfect as they would like you to think they are.  We are all flawed and fallible.  So don’t let your pride get in the way.  And if you are the sort of person that does better with some help, then go get it.

See if you can be smarter than I am and stop your biggest flaw before something or someone makes you.


Source:  Stuff


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  • cows4me

    I know it’s probably not much help but I can understand how people in the city can get addicted to fast food. It’s just to easy. We have to prepare and cook everything we eat, it’s just the way it is. When we go into the city we are always amazed at the cars at the fast food outlets. Don’t get me wrong we get some to when we can but I’m sure all the cars lining up don’t all come from the country.

    • Cadwallader

      Yes, but in the cities anyone can lose the taste for fast-foods. Also, living alone means that making one’s evening meal on getting home from work is a comforting diversion. (Not to say that every few weeks traditional fish’n’chips aren’t moreish.)

      • Cadwallader

        PS Pete’s an honest man. I understand that caffeine is an ugly addiction as there’s no support for the afflicted given it is a lauded and nurtured pastime/addiction.

        • It does give you an edge. As a programmer in a former life, it was an essential nutrient for the brain to operate at 110% for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.

          • Cadwallader

            I don’t doubt that but excessive indulgence for many years creates a dependency which I believe is tough to overcome.

  • J.M

    Good post.
    Wife is away overseas for the next couple of months, and I have so far resisted the temptation to resort to takeaways. Cooking every day and making my own lunch to take to work.
    Caffeine is something I like but have really cut down on coffees in recent times, these days drinking mostly tea.
    Alcohol is the one vice I have and thankfully these days I mostly restrict it to a few beers on a Friday, usually no more than 6.
    I was aware of Cam’s issues, but apart from one or two occasions when I made reference to his weight, I have never made fun of him for having them.

    • Pissedoffyouth

      Tea has a ton of caffeine, by the way.

      Keep up the good work

  • Great thought provoking post Pete. My addiction is food. As I am strongly against alcohol and drugs it was the only ‘ safe ‘ option when the going got tough. Of course the resulting weight gain made me feel worse. I have been teaching a unit on anger and have realised that it was in fact self directed abuse. I was angry and to avoid taking out my anger on WO and the kids I would stuff my face and stuff down my feelings. I would eat until I felt really uncomfortable. I would eat when I was not hungry but angry. I have not beaten my compulsion yet but at least I am more aware of what I am doing and why I am doing it. My students have learned that cutting themselves, drinking to excess and drug abuse and other risk taking behaviour is actually self directed abuse. It has led to some really interesting discussions. Last week they wrote down all their angry feelings towards who ever they felt it towards and then we one by one burnt it. One lad, it was anger towards his father for leaving them. I hope it helped.

    • Oh good grief yes. Self medicating is the major driver for most of these. As I kicked alcohol I just replaced it with something else. And time is now up on that as well, on a number of fronts – all at once. There is now a big hole in my life that wants to be filled. I’m having to get used to living without constantly rewarding myself with food/drink/stimulants. It’s a bit tricky at the moment. I miss the act of stuffing things through my mouth. I miss the physical act of chewing and crunching. Eating for the sake of ingesting some basic nutrition and stopping when you had enough is incredibly boring when you’ve spent decades just pushing through whatever you felt like.

      (As an aside, it amazes me how little food you actually need to eat. It seems inanely little when you’ve been used to so much. Dinner is over in mere minutes, and I’m eating smaller mouthfuls to try and drag it out – yet I’m NOT hungry, so fancy all that shit I pushed past my tongue all those years that was completely surplus to requirements)

      The technique of writing down your anger and burning the paper is a good one. I’ve also heard of one where you fold it into a paper boat and float it down a stream or river – watching it float away as you acknowledge it leaving you. One thing to remember is that coming to terms with long term and deep seated emotional pain is a long process. It isn’t solved by writing it down and burning the paper, but doing so is a very good step along the path. Putting damaged people back together again is a hard and draining process with many apparent setbacks, but the rewards are worth it.

  • Having never smoked, taken drugs, drunk alcohol or eaten Mcdonalds (or other hamburgers) I find addiction a strange concept and I not believe ‘addiction’ to something you need to buy even exists.

    The way I see it if you are an alcoholic or cigarette smoker or junkie – just stop. Simple. Do not buy anymore booze, dope or ciggies and you are cured.

    However there are those who must be cry babies and must engage in attention seeking victimhood and so, apparently, quitting addiction is more difficult than the obvious way (not buying or consuming anymore) and necessitates big wankfests and group hugs talking about problems and bad childhoods.

    • :)

      I fully appreciate how you understand that. “Just stop”.

      Ask yourself this: Why, if it is simply a matter of people stopping, why don’t they?

      • trisha

        When human beings are born they suffer enormous stress, then they open their mouths and breathe, instantly stress is alliveated, the next most stressful time they cry then scream and a teat is put in their mouth, instantly stress is alliveated again. We put something in our mouths when we are stressed, fingers, food, pencils, pens, bottles of energy drinks, alcohol, food, ciggaretts, food, drugs,coffee,tea, and heaps of not so good things, all to alliveate stress, addiction keeps us there.
        My addiction is food, tried alcohol for a short time, but walking home bullet proof and so toasted got violently raped, still cant remember much of the sorry saga, this is the first time I have talked about it as I felt is was my fault for getting off my face and not being aware of the danger of walking home alone.Over it now, thanks to food.
        drugs are illegal and pencils taste YUK.
        I eat alot of healthy food but I use it to alliveate stress
        I never though about just stopping :-) I’ll give it a go

      • I have asked myself this 100000 times – buying cigarettes, for example; I am truly at a loss to understand it. A smoker will consiously walk into the dairy, hand over a $20 note in order to buy a product which is guaranteed to kill them. Am I missing something here!?!?!

        • It would take some time to describe what’s going on. And then you may still be lucky enough not to understand enough of it to really get a handle on what addiction is about.

          Addiction is a contradiction. You do what you know is wrong, and yet you don’t stop yourself from doing it because another part of you simply wants the reward that badly that it overrides your rational self. But the rational self is aware of it and doesn’t like it.

          It really is like there are two people in you.

          And I know what that reads like. But it’s the best way of explaining it.

    • Pissedoffyouth

      I’ll tell you what, let me know what weekend you are free and we’ll:

      Get drunk as shit
      Smoke weed out of a water cooler
      Line up some pills and snort them through a $2 White House note

      Then once were done you’ll see how easy it can be to get addicted to stuff – its fucking great fun.

      Everyone has addictions, even you. I bet there’s something in your life you can’t give up.

      Comments like what you have said kind of annoy me, that’s like calling women cry babies because you have never given birth, or calling an old man a cry baby because you have never had a heart attack.

      • Interesting offer but maybe not a good idea – not sure why I would want to get drunk as shit or smoke weed (if you get paralyetic it doesn’t sound very good fun to me haha)
        And are you actually addicted to alcohol and ‘weed’ or do you just consume it? I mean if you didn’t consume any more of it then you would be ok or is it something you ‘need’ to get through the day? do you have it for breakfast?

        • Pissedoffyouth

          I’ve got a friend who drinks a box a day of Tui, some of my old mans friends do similar.

          Its interesting, some drink the box and get in a good mood then go to sleep, and some after the first beer turn into complete arseholes.

          Last thing I want before going to work is a beer, would make me too sleepy….

    • Saccharomyces

      Be thankful you are in a blessed state of innocence, and judge not others. Every addict knows that they just need to stop, the perversity is that it just doesn’t work like that.

  • AnonWgtn

    Pity they do not take feral Wussel too

  • Excellent post Cameron; I believe there are more people who are or have been addicted to something or other than those who have not. By the way, the cat isn’t feral, it was an abandoned pet.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    Excellent post Pete. I don’t drink Coke or Coffee, just one cup of tea per day.

    Tramadol was my bitch. You just don’t know how bad the addiction is until you try and quit.
    Pain is pain, live with it and fuck the drugs

  • Pissedoffyouth

    I used to smoke a pack every 3-4 days, until a year ago. Now just smoke when I drink, ball and chain hates me smoking (I’m a pretty heavy drinker, drinking most weekends like everyone else my age and a couple brews during the week).

    I hate the smell of cigarettes normally but after a box it is the best smell in the world.

    And caffeine, Until have a morning coffee I’m a grumpy shit. Odd V here and there, but nothing beats the morning expresso

  • Saccharomyces

    Wow, I’ve only just come across this article now…. Yep, been there, done that. In the grip of a few addictions as we speak. It’s a bit of an ebb and wane with me, I get shit under control for a few years, then let loose again. Food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work, smoking (finally got that one nailed though!) , they’ve all featured once or more in my life.

    But we keep fighting.

    I’m pretty much bottoming out on alcohol at the moment, but feeling positive, despite almost constant set-backs.

    The frustrating thing is it really is so simple, just don’t do it…. But it’s harder than it seems.