Our cats like their routine and stick to it – and steadfastly ignore Daylight Savings Time. Now that we are no longer free-feeding so that Mau gets his Tylosin and to ensure everyone gets equal portions (and thus prevent pigging out or bullying), the cats let us know when they’re hungry. Mau, in particular, is very vocal when he thinks it’s time for dinner and would like to lodge a complaint with management about the delay in service. This afternoon he took it upon himself to get dinner now.
After the cats finish eating, we take the bowls up and put them in the pantry, with the door firmly closed. Why? If we put them on the counter, Mau might climb up and help himself to his food along with everyone else’s (we’ve caught him doing this in the past, hence why we now put the bowls in the pantry). That is not a habit we want him to continue – counters are not acceptable places for kitties in our house – and we don’t want Mau to teach Garrus and Charlie this habit either. Mau decided to go counter surfing and climbed onto the trash can to get leverage. He promptly knocked over the trash can and a couple things off the counter (unbreakable, fortunately) and skittered off, startled by the CRASH. I saw him skedaddle and followed him into the hallway. He turned and gave me such a look of innocence with those big, slightly googly blue eyes. It’s difficult to get mad at him because he’s so cute.
Cue the dramatic yammering. “Mama, I’m STARVING! FEED ME NOW BEFORE I WASTE AWAY INTO NOTHINGNESS! Oh, by the way, I have no idea how the trash can got knocked over. I had absolutely nothing to do with that and I wasn’t anywhere near the counter. See? I’m too adorable and TOO HUNGRY.”
Charlie and Garrus, hearing the drama unfold from their snoozing spots in the bedroom, came out to give their two cents and squeaked too – comments from the peanut gallery, I suppose. At least they were more polite about it and even threw in prancey walks and tail hugs with their “please feed me” requests. Cats are so demanding.
Garrus contemplates his dinner options next to the ottoman.
Charlie tries to be coy after squeaking up a storm.
Are your cats fed on a schedule? How do they react to Daylight Savings Time? When they are hungry, how do they let you know? Share in the comments!
Last week was a rather hectic. I was out of town for several days, and during that time Austin Pets Alive! contacted me to schedule Mau’s dental surgery. Aaron dropped him off on Thursday evening and we picked him up the following day. All things considered, Mau’s surgery went well. Due to the severity of his dental disease and multiple abscesses, all of his teeth were extracted. Now we have a toothless cat!
When we brought Mau home, we gave him some peace and quiet by putting him in Aaron’s office for a few hours so that he could get his bearings. He walked a little unsteadily and seemed subdued, which was totally understandable, so we kept an eye on him. At the same time, he was not interested in having lap time or a snuggle.
Mau insisted on claiming the cat tree cubby as his R&R spot and being a hidey cat. Charlie seemed to be thrown off by Mau being so close to “his” spot on the platform above the cubby.
Mau seems to be recovering well after his surgery (or weird alien abduction, as it must have felt like to him). We’re continuing to give him wet food but no longer with antibiotics or other foul-tasting meds, which makes him a happy boy. We think that the antibiotics caused diarrhea, so we are giving him probiotics (Fortiflora) mixed into his food to counter that. Although he’s supposed to be on wet food for the immediate future, he still beelines toward kibbles and tries to eat them whenever possible. We separate Mau from Charlie and Garrus at feeding times or else everyone attempts to eat all other food except their own!
Mau appears to be feeling better and hides less in the cubby. Now we can all adore his handsome face!
In the last month, Garrus has made his preference for wet food quite clear and does not eat his kitten kibble much. I spoke to Dr R about it and she assured me that cats are very texture-oriented and some prefer the texture of wet food to dry food. Since he still needs to gain weight and I was worried that he was actually losing weight trying to hold out for wet food, Dr R encouraged me to give him small portions of wet food and increase it accordingly if that was all he was eating.
Yesterday Aaron gave him his dinner and tried an experiment by sprinkling some kitten kibbles on top of the wet food. Garrus ate them—hooray! Both Boudicca and Garrus need the extra calories so I replicated Aaron’s experiment and added kibbles on top of their breakfasts this morning. I was pleased to see that my cats, who had been so patient as I prepared their meal even though they were so hungry, ate everything I gave them! Charlie, in this typical squeaky fashion, was delighted when I offered him a few morsels of wet food on a spoon. (Since he is at a healthy weight, he gets a very small amount of wet food as a treat. As he is not a fussy eater and remains a very busy guy, Charlie has no problem eating most or all of his dry food every day.)
“Is it dinner time yet?” Garrus is polite and patient but most persistent when he is hungry and waiting for me to give him wet food.
Having a cat with exacting and/or mercurial eating preferences can be a challenge for any pet owner. Here are a few tips:
- Understand how cats choose what food they like. Texture, odor, and taste are hugely important to cats. For example, Boudicca does not like chicken or turkey-flavored wet food but loves seafood varieties. She is also particular about the texture: she likes Friskies Paté but not the Shreds or Flaked or the generic brand we bought from the grocery store. Some cats will prefer one brand over the other based on taste, texture, smell, mouth feel, or other factors. Temperature and even presentation can make a difference. Case in point, while I can spread out the food I serve for Garrus, the same tactic will not work for Queen B. I have to spoon her food into a pile and “fluff” it for her. If after she’s eaten half of it and it’s smooshed down onto the plate, she will stop eating but if I resculpt it into a fluffed pile, she will finish what I’ve given her.
- More protein, less carbohydrates. Cats are carnivores and they need at least 40% protein to maintain a healthy weight and muscle composition. Carefully read the nutrition label on the dry and wet food you’re offering your cat. Is it comprised of more carbohydrates and fillers or is protein-heavy?
- Food allergies. Cats can develop food allergies. An elimination diet may help identify any allergies. Make sure you discuss this with your vet first for more information and address concerns before you try an elimination diet.
- Dental issues. If a cat is experiencing dental pain, it is understandable that his or her appetite might decrease. Crunchy kibbles may further irritate inflamed gums or bad teeth. If you suspect that your cat is having a dental problem, consult your vet!
- Rotation. If you want to switch to a new cat food, do so slowly. Sudden changes can cause upset tummies, diarrhea, appetite loss, and other issues. Here’s a handy breakdown to utilize:
- 75% current food, 25% new food for a few days. Is your cat eating well? All good? Move on to the next step.
- 50% current food, 50% new food for another few days. Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior. Eating normally? No indication of GI troubles? You may pass go.
- 75% new food, 25% current food. This may take a week or, for more fastidious cats, 10 days to two weeks.
- Make your cat hungry. I know that sounds cruel but some cats do better when they are not free-fed.
- Food o’clock. Begin offering your cat two established meals a day. (See #5.)
- Playtime. Play and exercise can stimulate a cat’s appetite.
- High quality. Again, check the ingredients and nutrition content of the cat food you’re buying. Don’t feed your cat junk.
- Canned vs dry food. Boudicca ate dry food only most of her life but now eats both wet and dry food. Garrus had eaten only wet food at the shelter due to his dental issues before we transitioned him to kibble. Now his preference for wet food reasserted itself and we’re giving him that because he needs extra calories. Some owners hate canned food while others detest dry food, so there is a lot of information from both camps biased toward one or the other. My advice? Talk to your vet, ask questions, and carefully evaluate the information sources you come across.
Stay tuned for Part Two!