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What's Your Philosophy On Feeding Cats?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
As some of you know, my parents and I share a house, and we have a total of six cats between us. Despite the earnest entreaties of vet after vet, my mother (who insists on reigning supreme in all things food, both for humans and for cats) continues to feed the cats her own way. Here's my mom's approach:

1. Dry food is free-fed 24 hours a day. At any given time, as many as five different dry foods are sitting out for the cats to graze on.

2. Canned food is dished out in individual bowls, one for each cat, but of course the cats play musical bowls every time, so the kitten eats adult food and the adults eat kitten food.

3. If a bowl of food isn't immediately devoured, Mom assumes the cats don't like it. I've watched it many times: she puts down the bowl, a cat walks over, sniffs it, walks away... and Mom picks it right back up, throws it out, and offers the cat another flavor. This continues until the cat eats something or mom runs out of new flavors to try.

4. Based on the evidence of #3 above, Mom complains that she can't find anything the cats will eat, and she keeps trying new brands and new flavors -- despite my begging her to settle on something we know is safe from contamination and stay with it.

5. I also beg Mom to leave the canned food down for an hour and let the cats have a chance at it... but if there's even a little bit left in the bowl at the end of the hour, Mom feels the cats have refused to eat it, and she won't buy it again.

6. Whenever Mom is in the kitchen (which she is a lot), the cats congregate around her, because they know she will give them a treat. Sometimes it's something from her vast collection of Frisky-this and Whiska-that (given by the handfuls), sometimes it's low-fat turkey or ham slices minced up, sometimes it's a salmon patty when she makes them for my father.

7. And just as she's always been with the humans in the family, Mom is an obsessive feeder of cats, too. She has no sense of proportion, and gives the cats far more food than they could possibly need. As a result, two of them are grossly overweight, and two more are headed that way.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I adore my mom, and I know her intentions are good. But I feel she's doing to the cats the same thing she did to me: expressing love through food. I see what that did to my health, and I don't want that for the cats.

This has been such a point of contention between us for so long that I'm too emotional about it to be certain my thinking is clear. So please... what's your opinion on these practices? What do you think needs to change here? I would be very grateful for some knowledgeable guidance that I can share with my mom.

Thank you
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Now, don't get me wrong -- I adore my mom, and I know her intentions are good. But I feel she's doing to the cats the same thing she did to me: expressing love through food. I see what that did to my health, and I don't want that for the cats.
I think you've hit the nail on the head right there.

Another thought though: is she bored? When I was reading about your mom's behaviour it sounded to me as though she's just really bored, has nothing else to think about or care about, so she fixates on feeding the cats. Maybe if she had something else to do she wouldn't obsess about feeding the cats?

Although I think you're completely right about the "expressing love through food". Can you explain to her how she's doing way more harm than good (or will she just get upset/not listen?). Can you develop some alternative, not food-oriented way of expressing love to the kitties?
post #3 of 26
I honestly feel your pain.
1,2,6 & 7. Mom doesn't take the can food away if no one eats it, she leaves it there. Usually two cats eat enough for 5. It drives me nuts. I told her I was going to take over the feeding. Mike will continue in the morning and I will do dinner. I will only feed whoever comes for food. At first I will give in if Princess or Connor (the two who hide frome me) don't eat with the others but they have to get used to be being around. I also put the food back in the can if they won't eat it (unless I can tell it's bad).

I generally give out 6 treat pieces, mom gives out about 20. They beg so much. I finally broke Molly of this habit & I know I can break the others.

The only thing I want to keep the same is dry food 24/7. I think mom should keep dry food upstairs for Connor & Princess but she refuses. Cello and Spunky eat way too much. I do want to switch the brand of dry food she feeds. Another thing she doesn't like but oh well.

I don't really have a solution either. I just try my best to win the arguements.
post #4 of 26
Your mom needs to understand how important it is for cats to maintain a healthy weight. This is not just for direct health effects but also the comfort and agility of the cat! Is a cat really happy if they can't leap and play, jump like one should. It may seem to one that feeding your kitties it was gives them ultimate happiness, this may be if they are so over weight, the only thing they can enjoy is eating . Try to explain to her the true happiness of a cats life is living, not just eating. Maia at 1 year old was over weight and I really didn't see the difference in the 1 pound till she lost it and became much more agile and playful, basically all around happier! She is one of the kitties who likes to beg for food to get that extra attention. What a started to do is feed her very small portions 4-5 times a day, dry food only (still give her wet 1 time a week ). This may blow your mind, it did mine, but an adult cat is only suppose to get 1/4 cup dry food per day! I admit I give her probably 1/3 but in 4 servings a day. They love you if you pet, play, kiss them, it doesn't always have to be food. It was hard for me to see the big picture at first as well........
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheylink View Post
Your mom needs to understand how important it is for cats to maintain a healthy weight. This is not just for direct health effects but also the comfort and agility of the cat! Is a cat really happy if they can't leap and play, jump like one should. It may seem to one that feeding your kitties it was gives them ultimate happiness, this may be if they are so over weight, the only thing they can enjoy is eating . Try to explain to her the true happiness of a cats life is living, not just eating. Maia at 1 year old was over weight and I really didn't see the difference in the 1 pound till she lost it and became much more agile and playful, basically all around happier! She is one of the kitties who likes to beg for food to get that extra attention. What a started to do is feed her very small portions 4-5 times a day, dry food only (still give her wet 1 time a week ). This may blow your mind, it did mine, but an adult cat is only suppose to get 1/4 cup dry food per day! I admit I give her probably 1/3 but in 4 servings a day. They love you if you pet, play, kiss them, it doesn't always have to be food. It was hard for me to see the big picture at first as well........

May I ask WHO told you an adult cat ONLY needs 1/4 cup of food .... evan the most concervative guidelines suggest 1/2 for a typical 8-12 lb cat


My feeding is measured free feed for Zoey ... she eats about 1 cup a day

Gigi eats meals by the teaspoon to tablespoon ( she is on pred ) and when eating mostly cooked food gets 8 -10oz ... on raw days 5 oz ... on mixed days about 8
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
May I ask WHO told you an adult cat ONLY needs 1/4 cup of food .... evan the most concervative guidelines suggest 1/2 for a typical 8-12 lb cat


My feeding is measured free feed for Zoey ... she eats about 1 cup a day

Gigi eats meals by the teaspoon to tablespoon ( she is on pred ) and when eating mostly cooked food gets 8 -10oz ... on raw days 5 oz ... on mixed days about 8
It was my vet, he may have been reffering to Maia specifically, but then I heard it on this site from 2 people as well........I think it is best to maintain your cats weight under their needs......................... but definitely not yours (as in the person feeding)!
post #7 of 26
I live with my mom to help take care of her. ( she is not well ) Anyway the big debate over cat food goes on in my house as well. I want them to eat their dry food. I don't mind feeding them wet food, but she feeds it to them whenever they meow.

The food I get is of the utmost highest quality food. No by products ect. She feeds them fancy feast. On any given day she cracks 3-6 cans a day. ( Mostly for one cat.) My little weirdo doesn't eat wet food (good kitty).

My mom complains about the cost, but really she did it to herself.

In the end she tells me "You can feed them whatever you want when I am dead."

I think, point taken. My cats aren't obese. The female is chunky. However I wouldn't put her in the obese range. My little weirdo is thin and Forest my maine coon is happy.

I do see where you are coming from though and I sympathize completely.

However I will say this. I don't care what anyone feeds their pets just as long as you feed them. I have seen my fare share of starving animals in this world and there is just nothing sadder. I guess because starvation is just so curable.

Kudos to you for caring.
post #8 of 26
Wow! I'm the third person living with their mom! Hi all! My husband and I live with her to take care of her due to her poor health, too. She has a terminal illness.

Anyway, we have 8 cats between the three of us (a lot, I know... but we can't give them up!). Two of the cats stay in my mom's bedroom with her because they are old and don't tolerate my husband and I's young cats very well. They have a small bowl of dry food out all the time, and because they were my cats when I was a younger girl, my mom lets me come in nightly to feed them their daily wet food as a treat.

It's pretty much the same for my cats... dry food out nearly all the time (in two small bowls... once they eat it all, they eat it all... doesn't get refilled until next morning) and then wet food daily at night before I go to bed. None of my cats are extremely overweight or too skinny... I'm lucky that way. A couple are a tad puffier than they should be, and Sneakers is a tad skinnier than she should be, but otherwise, they are all at good weights and nothing extreme.

I rotate dry foods and canned foods by brand and flavor. I give them a little golfball sized piece each of raw meat 2-3 times a week too. They LOVE that!
post #9 of 26
Ideally I would like to be able to put food out in the morning and have it eaten, and then put some out again at dinner and have that eaten.

I leave dry food out 24/7, and have been trying to give them wet food at supper. However, Abby hates wet food and only likes her w/d Feline dry.

Abby is also a nibbler and only eats about 10 pieces of food at a time, unless she wants to purge a hairball, at which time she will devour the whole bowl rapidly and then throw up the food and the hairball But for her normal eating behaviour she doesn't eat enough in one sitting to allow me to take away her food and only feed them twice per day, and so she eats frequently through the day and night.

As a result despite having them on a lower calorie food, both of them are over weight and I don't know how to correct that, because Chynna eats her fill in each sitting, especially when it's wet food, and because there is dry food available for Abby in between she is constantly going for snacks.
post #10 of 26
Off topic but forth one taking care of and living with Mom...

She doesnt feed the animals ...lmao... I have been making food choice s for all animals for about 20 yrs ... I buy and I feed:_)
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Off topic but forth one taking care of and living with Mom...

She doesnt feed the animals ...lmao... I have been making food choice s for all animals for about 20 yrs ... I buy and I feed:_)
If it were up to my mom, Tabby and Abby's diets would consist of Friskies and butter pats. Yes, she feeds them butter pats. Good thing she can't go shopping herself.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
May I ask WHO told you an adult cat ONLY needs 1/4 cup of food .... evan the most concervative guidelines suggest 1/2 for a typical 8-12 lb cat


My feeding is measured free feed for Zoey ... she eats about 1 cup a day

Gigi eats meals by the teaspoon to tablespoon ( she is on pred ) and when eating mostly cooked food gets 8 -10oz ... on raw days 5 oz ... on mixed days about 8
Sharky's right.
post #13 of 26
I set out food or instructions when I prepare a meal. Say, at breakfast, I set out a can of wet for supper....whether I am feeding them supper or not.

I have to feed Twitch/Lily together high calorie stuff. Damita gets allergy stuff. Molly/Ophelia/Dory get UTI stuff. Each have their own feeding place & routine.
post #14 of 26
When you have a lot of cats, it is simply easier to free feed them, so I can support that behavior, but I do not switch foods around on them, nor do I give them multiple choices. Switching foods can cause digestive problems, not to mention more stinky poops in the litter box. To keep it interesting for them, I buy the same base food, then mix in varieties of hairball control or tartar control nibbles to change it up from time to time. It's a game for them to pick out the special kibbles in the food. I mix the bags of food in a food bin and dispense from there.

For canned food, I split 2 cans between 10 of them each evening. Cats with special needs are fed in a specific spot each day: Scarlett on the counter and gets a full half can because she is tiny and needs the extra meat. Stumpy on the dining room table because we mix his medicine into his food. Muddy/Koko in a separate room with a closed door because 1) Muddy gets daily meds and 2) both are pigs an will eat other's food. The rest are fed "pride style" on the floor. They like the interaction and it builds bonds between them.

The cats get 20 minutes to finish at which time we tell the dogs to lick their plates clean. The cats know if they don't like it, too bad, and btw, it won't be there for long so they better eat now or wait until tomorrow.

The advantage for giving specific amounts at different places is because you can start controlling their portions, as well as give them medicine when they need it. If you ever have a health problem with any of the cats, you need to control at least some of their eating routine.

I don't do too many treats here. I tend to use them to round them up when I need to (wiggle a bag and they all come running). Great for times when you need to get one of them to a vet and you don't want to search the entire house for them. I also use them with cats that are on medications - giving them a few treats prior to a meal stimulates their appetites and they tend to eat more of their canned food with the medicine in it.

Dry food IMO is the staple of their diet and needs to be healthy for them. Treats and canned food IMO should be used to manage any special situations, not given freely so that they take it for granted.
post #15 of 26
We leave dry food out 24/7 and refill (1/2 a cup per bowl and there are 3 bowls for 4 cats) once a day.
Patches is the Queen of the food. If I do pick up the food and nothing is replaced within 15 minutes, she will follow you around and cry. ALL DAY.

Beauty is the only one that received wet food on a daily basis as her teeth maybe jaws are becoming arthritic. We were finding a lot of crumbled dry food in the food bowls she eats out of. So to make sure she's fed, she gets a can of wet food.

Thursdays and Sundays are wet food days in our house.
post #16 of 26
I live alone so I don't have problems with feeding. I also have only one cat so that simplifies things as well.

Nikita gets dry food 24/7 but it's all put in treat balls so she has to work a bit to get at her food. She can't just walk up to her bowl and eat her fill. She self regulates though so that's not a problem.

Then she gets wet food before I eat in the evening mostly to give me a few extra minutes of peace since she wants to be involved in everything I do.

The only treats she gets (usually a small piece of boiled chicken) is as a part of her clicker training. She's in great condition now, not overweight and not underweight either.
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
This is great -- thank you all so much for your input! There are some excellent ideas here that I think I can persuade her to try, and maybe if I print out some of your posts for her, that will lend some credibility to what I'm saying.

It does sound like she must be bored and looking for things to do, doesn't it? But in fact, she's drastically overloaded, even with my help. So I guess it's just her obsessive nature.

Let me ask -- am I crazy, or isn't it true that canned food is healthier for cats, and dry is really secondary? That's my understanding, at least where cats who tend to gain weight are concerned, because the grains in dry food exacerbate that problem. If I've got it wrong, please tell me!

Also... my theory is that, by serving so many different foods, both dry and canned, Mom is teaching the cats to hold out for something different, rather than eat what she gives them. I want them to be happy, of course, and I want them to enjoy their food -- but it seems like if we could identify a few things they like and stick with those, they would be more likely to settle into a routine. Make sense?

I have to gather my courage and get my ducks in a row here before I try to talk with Mom about all this. I've done it many times (just as some of you suggested), but my mom... reality hasn't got a chance up against my mom's idea of how things ought to be, y'know? If she doesn't like it, she just does not accept it. But armed with your advice, maybe I can get somewhere this time.
post #18 of 26
wet is better for overall health and mimics a natural cat diet ..

Rotation is good but not opening multiple cans a day unless your feeding 4 or more kitties
post #19 of 26
wet is better for cats than dry, but mine love their dry, and I have noticed that one thing that guarantees peace and harmony throughout my feline housemates is food out all the time. I have 6 cats, so there are 6 bowls each filled with a 1/2 cup of California Natural every evening (late, like midnight). 6 different bowls so no one can hoard the bowls and eat everything in one sitting. In the evening, everyone gets their meal of wet, except Bert who still refuses to eat more than a lick of wet, but I have the other 5 on board, so I can't complain much. Everyone is happy, the fat cat has slimmed, the good weight cats have maintained their weight, and all is well. I would suggest that if your cats turn up their noses to whatever your mom gave them, tell her to be strong and leave it out for awhile. If they really don't like it, they really won't eat it. If they don't, just let them be til the next mean and try again, but don't open can after can until they like one of them, unless of course your parents are millionaires, then by all means, let her feed them whatever she wants, and I'll drop my 6 off as well, and then maybe she won't feel so snubbed, because they'll eat anything!!
post #20 of 26
My dry kitty food says Chuckie is meant to have a cup a day, but he doesn't eat that much, so we generally just have the bowl half full so he can graze through the day, there's always food left for a few days, maybe even a week before we top it up again. A 400gram tin of wet food will last 2-3 meals (feed him wet food once a day) we give him a meal at around 5 or 6 at night. And of course there's always water, though he prefers to drink from the tap than the bowl! And even though he's not a kitty anymore, he has started drinking milk again (Jasmine had it almost every day for her two years of life and Chuckie never touched it)
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Godiva View Post
If it were up to my mom, Tabby and Abby's diets would consist of Friskies and butter pats. Yes, she feeds them butter pats. Good thing she can't go shopping herself.
i better not tell stimpy that...he'll want to move in. he LOVES butter.

my cats get 3 wet food meals, 6oz split 3 ways in the morning & afternoon. then a 3oz can split in the evening (around 7pm). for dry i have 3 bowls, i put 1/8 cup in each 2x a day and they can graze on that. stimpy eats more dry than my other 2, so it works well.
post #22 of 26
i think wet is better than dry. but stimpy begs to differ. we've come to an agreement. raven and nabu get most of their diet from wet, but stimpy is more like 50/50. any wet food stimpy doesn't eat, does get eaten.

i don't switch around brands a lot anymore. the guys have a set few brands they like, and i stick with those--but get them different flavors when they seem bored. luckily the brands they like have a lot of choices.
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Fosterkitty, thank you, I'll read your post to my mom and maybe that will reinforce my point.

Dragoriana, bless ol' Chuckie's heart, he's taken on Jasmine's ritual, hasn't he? He must miss her too.
post #24 of 26
I feed each litter seperatly. Butch and Sundance share a big bowl together. I mix 1 5 1/2 oz. can of wet with half a cup of food 3 times a day. They are fed in their kennel. Calamity (there mom) gets the same but only twice a day. She is fed in the bathroom. Skye's litter is fed 1 5 1/2 oz can of food mixed with 1 cup of food 3 times a day if they eat all of that then I put in just dry for them to munch on between meals. They are fed in their kennel. Skye is free fed dry food and gets 2 5 1/2 oz cans of food a day.
post #25 of 26
My cats are fed 2x a day and get wildside salmon or uri-ease treats on occassion between meals. My cats can not be allowed to free feed as they are not self regulators and will literally eat themselves silly! Jasmine was very obease when we adopted her (the result of dry food) but at her last vet visit she had lost over 1.5lbs (only 2 more to go we are trying to slowly loose a healthy amount of weight to avoid health problems) Mine eat only soft food. I was home cooking for them recently with all of the pet food recalls- but none of them cared for it no matter how many recipes i tried- so i started feeding a safe soft food for them and so far so good

Kojak and Velvet eat side by side in the living room on a old desk (just for now until we redo the living room). Isabella eats in the guest bedroom on top of a piece of furniture there and so does Jasmine (but for now jasmine is eating in her cage as she is sick). Their food is elevated so the dogs won't steal it- but we have also trained our dogs not to go into the guest bedroom even if the door is open so they won't mess with their food.
post #26 of 26
I only have 2 cats but I feed specific meal times and never free feed. The trouble with free feeding is that if you have more than one cat you inevitably end up with one needing different food to the others for one reason or another, so I think it's easier to get them used to set meal times from the start. I put the food down and they eat it straight away. Then the bowls get picked up and washed up and that's it until the next meal time. I feed wet food so wouldn't want to leave that down for too long anyway.
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