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constantly starving cat causes destruction!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I have 2 cats, Kitten (2) Oreo (5). Oreo's always been a strange cat. he'd make huge amounts of racket from day one, knocking things over. Finally we learned and moved everything breakable up high. Oreo lived with my mom for several years while I was in school and didnt get much attention. So I took him in when I moved out and got him a friend (kitten).Theyre best friends, and love each other dearly. However, oreo is definitely the leader, and kitten, bless his soul, follows him around like a little puppy dog, aiding and abetting oreo's terrible crimes. My vet told me that oreo was overweight and needed to be put on a diet food, reduce his servings and play with him more. I've done all of that. he's weights gone down, my vet even suggested I be the spokesperson for feline weight loss. But it was shortly thereafter the problems started. Oreo will do ANYTHING to get food. Including knocking over the waste basket, chewing through rough plastic, even that metallic type material that the Greenies come in. he jumps up on the counter, opens cabinets and clears them with one foul swoop, breaking everything in his path. I tried locking the cabinets with the child safety locks, but he waits til the one time I forget and dumps an entire bag of cat food all over the floor. We moved the food to the cabinet that is above the sink. Like 2 feet up and directly over the sink. No way, right? yea, he solved that one tonight. Somehow got up there, and shattered a glass that was in the sink. He is always whining for food. We never give in. meal time is 1/3 cup in the morning, each, and a 1/3 cup around 5pm. we dont give in and give it to them early and we dont give it to them when we first wake up or first come in the door at night. Everytime we walk in the kitchen he's tripping us and whining. He's been treated for worms, and he's a completely indoor cat! I dont get it! we're not starving him. My vet says he's perfectly healthy now. What do I do to get the racket and the destruction to stop? We play with them every night in hopes that it'll calm him down. I love him dearly, but not only it is gettingon my last nerve that he's breaking everything, but I'm worried hes going to hurt himself.
post #2 of 18
What foods are you feeding (dry and wet)?

I ask because I have a 17 1/2 year old kitty that was constantly hungry, with nothing wrong with her. So I changed wet foods to a more premium (and expensive, LOL) food, and it made a world of difference. The very first time I fed her the premium food, she ate and went to sleep. Usually she would eat and then ask for more! And very obnoxiously.
post #3 of 18
Have you talked to your vet about possibly being able to feed him more? If its healthy food maybe a little more wouldnt be a problem....or maybe there are healthy cat snacks out there that you can give him between feedings.
post #4 of 18
It sounds like he is still conditioned to think of food as his reward and he is obsessed with it. LOL I can relate .

Seriously, you are doing the right thing including and especially substituting play time, and playing with him when he cries for food- so he will forget over time that everything good is about food, and will begin to want his play time instead.

If he is a social eater (he wants to eat when you eat) be sure that one of his feedings or snacks is when you have your food. I like klutchetta's advice too about finding a food that will satiate him a little better, without adding calories.

I don't know what else to say. My cats are all fatties and they also break into the food, knock the plastic container over at night (which has ruined more than one dental exam!), and cry endlessly and get in my face for food. And if I leave the closet open where the bag of food is, they will eat their way into it even with food in their bowls.

I admire you for having the strength to get your Oreo healthy and do what is best for him. This is really similar to when someone quits smoking and they still crave that cigarette as a reward. He needs to learn different rewards and it will just take time. After he is fine, will you come to my house and get mine in shape ?!!
post #5 of 18
Oh - I just thought of something else. Has he lost all the weight he's supposed to? In that case, couldn't he have just a bit more food on his "maintenance" diet? (Make me think of Weight Watchers - you have an amount of calories that you "lose" on, and then another slightly larger amount where you maintain your weight.)

Barb has excellent advice for you!
post #6 of 18
My cat has the same problem and i was recommended by the rescue lady to mix wet food and dry food for feed. Her reasoning was because dry food is basically like junk food where you eat and you eat but you don't really get full while the wet food with meat has proteins in it which fill you up faster. Its helped my cat a little but she still begs for food whenever she can and she does always try to find a way to get to the food but i put it in a closet where the handle is too high off the floor for her to reach so she can't get in. Perhaps you could try that? putting it in a closet with a door?
post #7 of 18
Oh!!! Something else good to put food in is those tins popcorn comes in!
post #8 of 18
Also, feeding small bits more often during the day will let him feel like he's getting some, vs waiting so long between meals and then only getting reduced amts.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hey - I just feed him the science diet light formula. The vet said that was best for him and his teeth. At night time, I try to hide bits of food around for them to find. but my other cat is often faster and somewhat smarter at finding them. Since he lost weight I have increased the food a little bit, mostly with the tidbits at night time. Also, they so much!!!!!! so I highly doubt he's not getting enough. Nevermind the food he steals from my hedgehog. I just feel like I want to bash my head against the wall. I mean this cat is just too resourceful. who's teaching him how to open cabinets that close with a magnet??! So the next question is, how do I get him to stay off the counters?
post #10 of 18
I know this must be frustrating for you. You have my sympathy. I hope we can help you.

A lot of vets still believe that dry food is good for their teeth. That's pretty much been disproven in the recent past. No offense meant to you or your vet, but the only positive thing about dry food is that it is convenient for us humans.

I do agree with the other suggestions that wet food would be more filling and satisfying for him. The "diet" foods are loaded with carbs and fillers, and that's why they leave a lot of "deposits" in the box.

I looked at hillspet.com and found that 2/3c of the SD light has 209 calories. One canned food that my cats like is Natural Balance. I believe all of the flavors have 156 calories/6oz can. So an equal amount of that would be 1.3 cans (almost 8oz of food!)...that's quite a bit of food. Another brand we like is Wellness. Those range from 170-210 kcal per can IIRC...so in that case he could still have at least a full 5.5oz can or a bit more.

Another idea might be to try a treat ball. I think they're usually in the dog section at the pet store. They have to work with the ball to get the food to come out. I think Oreo sounds motivated enough to use a treat ball.

You've done an awesome job sticking to your guns and getting the weight off of Oreo. His behavior associated with his insatiable appetite must be very frustrating for you. I hope you can figure out a way to calm him down.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
I've done a lot of research on the wet vr dry food issue. The general consensus is that wet food isnt bad for them, but it cant be the only source. The dry food is good for their gums and teeth, in the same way the doggie dental bones are good for dogs' teeth.
I called the vet today to see if they had any pointers. I'm thinking of getting those "scat mats", that give the cats a little JoLt if they step on it, as a way of keeping them away from things they shouldnt touch. I've heard they work well.I've already tried the sprays and stuff and that doesnt do anything. The tape on the counter trick doesnt work because they dont care if they leave tufts of fur sticking to the counter or pull of some of their paw pads. The fact that I need child safety locks in my house is just so frustrating! Thanks for all the tips though. I'll discuss with my vet the wet food thing again. She's a really nice lady and knows my boys pretty well.
post #12 of 18
Poor thing! I've been on a diet, and I know what it feels like to be ravenous. Try this: Go without breakfast and lunch. Then go shopping for food. You'll see how your cat feels... If you've done that before, you probably remember you were so hungry that literally everything looked good, and you spent way more than you normally did! So this is what a naturally high energy cat does: His little brain tells him he's starving, so he uses his energy to get at the food. Survival strategy, even though he's not in actual danger; it just feels like it.

I think, to prevent any long-term issues, you should probably stop with the diet and just maintain at his present weight. Keep up the exercise, and if he is active and healthy, the weight will not hurt him unless he's grossly obese (which I don't think he is, from what your vet said). I know this because it's true for humans: If you're fat, and you exercise and keep your blood pressure and cholesteol down and manage your stress, then you're actually healthier than a thin person with high stress levels!

You're already feeding high-protein... you're playing with him... I think you're doing pretty well. It's just a matter of heading off the psychological "I'm starving" reaction in your cat. Ease off the diet for a while; let him figure out he's not starving before he forms a habit.
post #13 of 18
I think the cat's behavior is telling you that he's not getting enough food for his body and energy level. What if he actually is getting too little nutrition? I'd err on the side of not making that mistake and also not making the cat miserable.

What did he used to weigh? How much does he weigh now? And is he large-framed or small-framed?

2/3 of a cup per cat a day is a severe diet, particularly when it's light cat food. How many calories a day is that?

I agree that wet food in his diet may help him.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
the funny thing is, he was very overweight and he's a very sedentary cat. He was 16 pounds and was supposed to be 12. I got him down to 12 over the span of a year, and it went ok. no crazy behavior. My vet told me to increase his food a little bit to maintain his weight. He gained 2.5 pounds in 4 months. The vet told me to back off again a tiny bit. and I have. and I do know what its like to be on a diet. I recently lost 30 pounds.
This cat is sedentary most of the day. He has his 11pm and 5 am freakouts which are pretty much his only serious exercise. he doesnt need all the food. "playing" with him before 11pm or after 6am is like playing with a brick. he ignores it, or just follows it with his eyes. Still a mental stimuli so I continue. but its not like he's doing backflips (like kitten does).
I left a message for my vet and she called back and suggested a kitty shrink not really sure how I feel about that and I dont really have the money for it either.
I love my kitty, I just want to make sure he's ok and happy.
Oh and he does have a cat tree.
post #15 of 18
Eh, I don't know about the kitty shrink. This isn't exactly the same, but several years ago we took my dog to a dog psychiatrist. I went with my dad and talked to the woman myself. She didn't believe me when I kept insisting that Lady had feelings. Despite my bad feeling about her, we went ahead and tried her advice, which was basically "ignore the dog" as in "stop paying so much attention to her so she doesn't mind when we leave" (Lady was very destructive when we left her alone for any amount of time because of anxiety issues). This caused Lady to become incredibly depressed withing a matter of days. I mean, the change in her behavior was very noticeable, and it wasn't a change for the good. My family talked about it and decided that the psychiatrist was in the wrong profession and didn't know what she was talking about and to immediately stop ignoring Lady. Lady immediately snapped out of her depression. We never found a "cure" for Lady's anxiety problems, but we never again stopped showing our love for her.

post #16 of 18
I know exactly how you feel. I went through the same thing with Hemmy. You're doing the right thing helping your cat maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is just as much of a problem for pets as for people. A couple of extra pounds on a small animal like a cat may not seem like much to us as people but that's an enormous difference for them and can cause serious health risks.

I don't agree with the posts that urge you to feed more. It sounds like you and your vet are communicating very well on the weight issue which should help prevent the risk of your cat loosing too much weight.

Hemmy puts on a song and dance when it's time for him to eat too. It starts about 2 hours before a scheduled feeding time and involves meowing and frantic dashing towards his food bowl whenever someone even looks like they might head that way. We've been maintaining his weight for several years now so the frantic desperation has left and now he does it more as a matter of habit. I have to say he's pretty funny.

I think you need to use a tactic I call "changing the subject." First, go to one of the vet supply sites and look for buzzers/bells that go off whenever a cat opens a door or gets on a counter. That will make going in the cabinets an unpleasant situation. Second, just before the typical time he starts going nuts give him some high quality play time so he doesn't think about the food. Cat nip, new toys, cardboard boxes anything that seems like fun. If you don't give in and stick with it, it really will get better!
post #17 of 18
I'm going to agree with the premium/high protein canned food fed twice or more a day. I personally like the wellness grain free cans.
Animal protein is much more satisfying than carbs, for people or pets and especially for cats who are obligate carnivores. They don't really digest the carbs well, hence all the poop. Dry food is so brittle, it just crunches up like potato chips and doesn't do much (or anything) for teeth and gums.
I'm not going to say "feed him more", just feed him something that makes him feel full.
What I've been doing is giving my cats two meals a day (I have 5). Pippin gets a 1/4 can of wellness 5.5 oz along with about a 1/4 cup (a little less actually) of nutro max cat dry for two meals. They all beg at meal time, but generally not between meals now. Pippin is 12 lbs and is 4 years old. The food change has also changed his personality. He's more playful, bright eyed and soft. It's also helped him with some health problems.

I know you don't want to undo all the hard work to get him down to his current weight, but it MIGHT help with his behavioral issues.

I hope you get some peace!

post #18 of 18
If memory serves, first ingredient is chicken by-product meal on most (if not all) Science Diet dry foods. Here is what Franny Syufy from About.com: Cats says about chicken by-product meal "consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices". Here's the link where I got it from: http://cats.about.com/cs/catfood/a/ingredients.htm.

Shelter gave us 2 bags of Science Diet Kitten food when we adopt two 10 months old cats. For the first week our entire house smelled like poop even though the litter was away from the common room in a corner. I switched to extra-strenth litter thinking it's the problem. Nope, house still reeked of poop. My friends want to come visit the kitties, I always tell them it's a bad time- I was embarassed. One lady I talked to suggest it might be what they eat. I switched to Nutro after some research and the poop smell was gone. The kitties also pick out Nutro to eat first before Science Diet when mix together. Before they would constantly meow and meow and meow and meow begging for food, ALL THE TIME, now they just beg on feeding time.

Do a search on the forum, there are tons of food discussion threads. Hope your kitty will calm down.
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