Buster

by Jeff Fleischer

Staring didn’t accomplish much.

The food was definitely there, almost mocking him through the glass container. The top half of an hourglass with one thin funnel. Even a smart cat could tell only that the food fell through that funnel on some kind of predictable rhythm, and start to feel anticipation when a long enough time had passed since the last release.

Buster was nobody’s idea of a smart cat, but he knew that if he waited long enough, hard pieces of crunchy cornmeal – brightly colored and tuna flavored – would tumble into the dish. And he suspected that no matter how long he stared, he could not make it happen any faster.

A few times, he had tried sticking his paw up the funnel, but he could only loosen one or two pieces, and the effort only made him hungrier. He tried crying to get his human’s attention, but she’d already disappeared to wherever she went every morning when the door closed and the key turned in the lock.

Buster was close to giving up, and swatted the side of the plastic container in frustration. He hit it hard enough that he heard a faint rattle as a few pieces of food fell into the dish. After dispatching those in short order, he hit it again. And again. If his paw could knock a few pieces out of place, even Buster understood that his whole body could do more. He backed up, crouched low to the ground, and launched his bulk at the feeder.

When his human returned, Buster heard the key turn in the lock, but he was too sated to greet her at the door. She found the satisfied cat relaxing on a kitchen floor nearly covered with imitation-tuna pieces, the empty funnel tipped on its side, and all she could do was stare at the mess.

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