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Old 10-02-2010, 12:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Changing the cats' feeding schedule: problems

On Monday the 20th I finalized an adoption of two male cats, a small brown tabby (Rex) about 7 years old, and an orange and white Maine coon mix (Jeremiah), about 8.5 years old. I adopted them from a woman in end-of-life care: they are best friends, and I couldn't separate them. I brought them home the following Monday, the 27th.

I already have two girls at home, a 5 year old longhair pastel calico (Meeko) and a 10.5 year old tuxedo (Socks).

Jeremiah has a weight problem. The woman whom I adopted the cats from had 7 cats, and when she went into hospice a woman came to feed the cats and scoop the litter once a day. Basically, Jeremiah ended up eating all the other cats' food. He's about 20 pounds. Though he is a Maine coon mix, he could still stand to lose at least 5 pounds, maybe 7.

My girls have always been pickers-- I left food out all day for them 3/4 cup a day (Blue Buffalo). I knew I had to change this because Jeremiah has got to drop the weight.

So on the 20th I started feeding twice a day, each cat getting 1/4 cup at each meal. Socks doesn't really have a problem with it, she'll eat anything.

Meeko has hardly eaten and it's been almost two weeks. I've done everything imaginable to make it easy and as stress-free as possible. She probably eats 1/8 cup a day.

She makes it very difficult: she will not eat anything except the dry food. She won't touch wet food of any kind, no treats (crunchy or soft) and no human food. Nothing.

I am extremely worried about her. I don't want to get into details and bore you, so if you would like any more information, please ask and I will absolutely let you know.


Thank you so much. I'm worried about my little baby
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm assuming that the only thing you changed was moving from free feeding to scheduled feeding (i.e., they're still getting the same type of food). If so, then you can try to feed Meeko more often -- at least three or, preferably, four times a day. Perhaps you can feed her in another room, so Jeremiah doesn't see and try to "horn in", if that's a problem.

My two were being free fed a while back and I moved them to scheduled feedings as the first step in switching them from dry to wet (they're now eating wet only). When they were eating dry on a schedule, neither ate very much. I think they were so used to eating small amounts at any given time that they felt full after only eating a small amount. Abby, in particular, didn't eat more than about 1/8 cup per day. When I was home on weekends (I work during the week), I was able to feed them more often, and Abby ate a bit more, although even then she never ate more than 1/4 cup a day (often less). During the week, when I was working, I started feeding them three times (in the morning, when I got home and again before going to bed). So, you might try feeding Meeko more often.

As for how much you should worry at this point -- is Meeko otherwise healthy and active (or as active as she was when she was being free fed)? Has she lost weight over the past few weeks?
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes, the only thing that's changed is the schedule. Food is the same. I have been trying to separate all of the cats during feeding times, because I know Socks can be a little piggie, and Jeremiah too.

I will definitely try to feed her more often. It might be a little difficult, because sometimes we are out of the house for 12+ hours-- but not often.

As of right now she is acting the same. Still snuggly and up to her same antics (she almost leapt right into our 125 gallon fish tank while we were doing a water change, so the lid was off). However I think I can feel her ribs more than I used to-- but I might just be paying more attention now. I'm not sure
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You might want to try weighing Meeko every few weeks to keep an eye on her weight. A baby scale would work. If you don't have one, but have a regular scale, you can do the old trick of stepping on the scale with the cat and then stepping on without the cat, and the difference in the two weights would be Meeko's weight. Failing that, then keep an eyes on her overall size and the extent to which you can feel her ribs. It might just be that Meeko doesn't eat or need that much -- that's true for Abby, but she's healthy and active.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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This is getting completely out of control.

I had tried feeding Meeko under the bed, which had been working. This morning she was in the living room.

I absolutely can not pick her up and take her to her food. She hates being picked up and freaks out about it. She doesn't come when the bowl shakes.

Finally she wandered into the spare room after all the other cats had eaten and I stuck her bowl in there and closed the door. But if I close a door on her she also gets upset and won't eat. She's been in there for 10 minutes and is clawing at the door and meowing. She won't eat.

I don't understand what I am supposed to do. If she continues like this, she is going to starve herself.

The only other thing I can think of is locking Socks in one room, Rex in another, and putting Jeremiah in the kitchen and block it off with a baby gate. He's too fat to launch himself over it, and letting Meeko walk around the living/dining room area and let her eat at her will. But then Socks and Rex will be meowing and pawing at the door.

I'm so upset. It shouldn't be this hard to feed cats.

Is there anything that cats absolutely cannot resist?
Like I said earlier, Meeko turns up her nose at practically everything; wet food, treats, tuna, salmon (I only tried these as a test).

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Old 10-02-2010, 01:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I can't really help out with advice on this matter but wanted to let you know i can totally understand how you feel. I have a little bit different situation going on but similar also.

I have two cats an adult and a kitten. I joined here and found out that can is better than dry. I had been feeding both all dry. I tried to make the switch and my kitten loved it but my adult took the path of if it ain't dry i ain't eating it. He basically starved himself although i was giving him a bit of dry before bed. I tried for almost a week and gave up. The dry i had been feeding is very low quality so i figured if he has to have dry let me at least get him a high quality dry. I did that and mixed some with the low quality and he picks out the low quality pieces and won't touch the high quality dry!

I have never in my life had such a stubborn cat when it comes to eating and i have had cats all my life! I feel horrible to keep feeding him low quality but he will starve himself if i don't! It's getting very fustrating!
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Simply changing Meeko from free-feeding to scheduled feedings, while feeding her the exact same food as she has previously been eating, is not likely to cause Meeko to go on a hunger strike or starve herself. I suspect there are a few things going on here. First, you were previously free-feeding both Meeko and Socks, and you say Socks is a “little piggie” , so it’s quite possible that Meeko never ate all that much to begin with (although I agree that the 1/8 of a cup per day that she's currently eating is not enough). Second, it will often take a week or so for cats to eat properly once you move them from free feeding to scheduled feeding. When they’re being free fed, they’re used to eating a few bites at a time throughout the day. When you first remove the bowl, they tend to continue to just eat a few bites, since it hasn’t yet dawned on them that the bowl won’t be there when they go back for it. Even when that fact does dawn on them, they still don’t eat much at any one time at first, since there tummies feel full after only eating a bit (since that’s what they’re used to doing). When I first moved my girls to scheduled feedings, it took them a while before they started eating more than a teaspoon of dry food at any given meal.

In your case, it has now been almost two weeks, not one week. However, at the end of Week 1 in your case, Jeremiah and Rex came to live with you. Introducing new cats in a household is a major cause of stress to many cats, and stress can result in a loss of appetite for a cat. So, it’s possible that Meeko’s current eating habits are a combination of both the move to scheduled feedings and the introduction of two new cats into the household. Is Meeko currently getting along with the new cats and/or does she appear to be more stressed than normal since they arrived? If so, you will likely need to deal with the “introduction” issues and the related stress in order to solve Meeko’s eating issues.

Apart from that, the only other things I can suggest are to (a) add a dietary supplement (such as Nutri-Cal) to Meeko’s diet until such time as she starts eating more, or (b) contact your vet to obtain an appetite stimulant, which might help to get Meeko back on track.
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