Little is my son’s cat, and having been raised by a young boy, he’s never wanted anything other than food and my son’s love. Little comes running when my son whistles for him, and like many cats he’s always been independent.
Then something changed. Little began crying for food all day long, looking up at whomever was in the kitchen at the time, insisting loudly on being fed. Did you feed Little? Became the question of the day, and I began to give him little spoonfuls just to keep him quiet.
After days of this behavior, I thought I’d better have him checked for worms or parasites, anything that could have caused this bottomless pit of hunger. The tests were clean, and Little persisted in demanding food.
I had to leave for a few days on a business trip, and I returned to find my husband standing in the kitchen, cradling Little in his arms as I walked in the door.
Everything ok, honey? How’s Little?
Well, I’ve discovered something interesting, answered my husband as he pet our buff- colored fluffy cat. I find that when Little begs for food, if I pick him up and hold him tight, he stops begging and then walks away.
I smiled, and thought, what a wise man.
Our other cat, Big, had passed away a few weeks prior to the food issue. We never thought they were close friends, but I realized that the absence of Big had created a void, and what he really needed all along was love, touch and holding. Big had been a physical playmate and Little obviously missed wrestling with him.
Often when we reach for food, we’re reaching for physical contact, for love, security, or a hug. We’re programmed to desire physical touch from those close to us; children physically need physical contact for their brains to develop properly, and adults instinctively reach for each other to express emotion or to provide comfort.
The next time you reach for food that your body doesn’t really want or need, call a friend, take a warm embracing bath, hug your significant other, or child, call your mother, or have a cup of hot tea.
Food hugs are short lived, and they’ll leave you crying for more all day long.
Seek your hugs in other ways that support your well-being, and allow you to walk away better for it.
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