Need advice re: safely switching free-feed to scheduled meal
Well, this is complicated. I'll try to make it as short as I can, but sorry for the length.
We have three cats, all of whom have VERY different nutritional needs.
My primary concern is 5-year old Leia, who has become very overweight, largely by virtue of being a food scarfer and a constant browser. She is the light of my life and I want to do right by her, and that has to mean switching her from being a free-feed kitty to one on a schedule.
The other adult cat, Lando, is a very robust cat (but not tubby like my girl - although truth be told, he is probably a pound overweight). He and Leia are accustomed to eating together, although he is much better about regulating his intake.
And just to make things interesting, three weeks ago, we got a kitten - who, of course, eats everything in sight, and then runs around like a little racecar until he exhausts himself ( He's still in the supervised interaction phase of introduction to the other cats, so his food and water are kept in his safe room).
So my challenge is: 1) Get Lando and Leia off a free-feed schedule and 2) without compromising baby Ben's nutrition - 'cause you better believe Leia will make a beeline for his food if she suddenly finds herself cut off.
Here's the current pattern: a high-quality in the morning, although they tend to eat a little, then graze throughout the day; then wet food in the evening.
Should I isolate them during the morning feed (I know many of you will recommend a full transition to wet) and throw away anything that is not eaten within, say, 20 minutes? Then repeat for the evening feed?
As for the baby, he is getting wet food but has kitten kibble for fueling his racecar needs; my idea is to put his bowl inside the bottom half of his carrier, inverted so that he can get under & inside, but tubby Leia cannot. Or do I put him on a schedule as well? I'm a teacher, so for the next 5 weeks I can feed him 4x/day, but I can't do that once school starts. Is it OK for a 6-mo kitten to only be fed twice a day?
Again, so sorry for the length. Any ideas or suggestions would be MOST welcome. I just want to be a good mom to all my little ones (and my porky one).