Cats are seen in the village of Krompach near the town of Cvikov
I've been told by philanthropic friends that it’s easier to get people to donate to charities that support animals and children than it is to get support for the poor.

I suppose the reason is that we feel animals and children can’t speak for themselves, so they need our support more than adults do.

In the world of commerce, however, animals are a powerful force. I often wonder whether retailers realise how much influence a cat or dog can have on the buying habits of a human customer.

I visit a certain supermarket regularly for one reason only; they stock a brand of cat food my two cats enjoy, at a price I enjoy. I go there specifically to stock up with the week’s supply of the sachets.

Of course, once I’m there I might as well pick up a few other things I need, so I get a litre of milk, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, a kilo of potatoes, a bunch of carrots and a bottle of cheap wine. Frankly, I don’t actually study the prices of those.

They are necessary, so I chuck them in the trolley and head for the check-out. So, apart from the R40 of cat food, my cats have attracted at least R100 of additional sales to that store. But before shop managers become complacent, let me remind them that cats are incredibly fussy eaters and cat people are always happy to exchange cat stories.

I recently had a conversation with a fellow cat person in the pet food aisle and we agreed that something had changed in our favourite cat food.

“I can’t understand it,” she said, “but my cats now just lick up the gravy and leave the chunks.”

“Mine are the same,” I said. “They must have changed recipe.”

We both agreed that our cats simply turned up their noses at the fish flavoured chunks. Why should we be surprised? Cats don’t normally hunt fish. But what was worrying both of us was that they were no longer enthusiastic about the beef and chicken flavoured chunks, which used to be firm favourites.

I’ll have to decide whether to try a different brand. And if I find a different shop offers food my cats prefer, I’ll go there.

Even though cats can’t talk human language, their taste buds will have cost that supermarket a weekly order of eggs, milk, bread, potatoes, carrots and wine.

Note to shopkeepers: Never underestimate the buying power of a cat.

Last Laugh

Friends were discussing poor old George, who had just been given a five-year jail sentence.

“What did he do?” asked Fred.

“He tried to rob a drive-through bank, but he bungled it. He’s not terribly bright, you know.”

“What happened?” “He drove up to the teller’s window and put his gun into the little basket together with a note saying: ‘This is a stick up’.”

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus