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Obsessed with eating...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have a nearly 2 year old neutered male cat that is larger lengthwise than average and is about 15 lbs. I feed him 1/2 a cup of food 2 times a day, once in the morning before I leave for work/school at around 9 am and another and again when I get home at about 5pm. This food is inhaled within 5 minutes. He is quite obviously not malnourished by looking at him, but he is OBSESSED with eating everything he can find. In the past he has done everything from knocking over heavy trash cans and picking through all of the garbage to ripping open a sealed styrofoam cup of ramen noodles in the plastic casing to eat the dry noodles inside, to digging through the garbage in the bathroom and eating used feminine hygiene products (YUCK)!
He has also figured out how to open cupboard doors.

I have tried disciplining him with a spray bottle, but I am either asleep or not home when he gets into things. When he has done something bad, I usually know it immediately before even seeing what he's done when I get home because he doesn't greet me but instead runs and hides behind a desk or under a chair.

What should I do?
post #2 of 13
Have you considered letting him free feed? Cats systems are designed to eat many small meals frequently. Our cats eat several mouthfuls of food about a million times a day.

Consider purchasing a food that is a large kibble, put it on a (that you toss every day or wash every day), not a bowl, and set it on a box that is just below head height so he can't just lean down and gobble at it - so it's a little uncomfortable for him to get at.

If you're going to consider switching him to free feeding, do it on a weekend when you're around the entire time, and put little bits of food down for him every hour Friday night through Saturday mid-day, then put a little bit down every half hour through Sunday mid-day. (Obviously don't get up every hour or half hour, just sleep through the night like normal). Then put the food out and see how it goes Sunday afternoon/night. Don't let him gorge himself to the point he'd get sick - but if he doesn't go for it, you should be OK to leave it out for him.

Laurie
post #3 of 13
I can relate partially with your situation. Maia is the first kitty I have experienced that will empty her bowl and beg all day if I let her. She was over weight by apx.2 lbs. at 8 months old which is a lot! She is 1 year 9 months, close to same age.
What I started doing is feeding her small portions 4-5 times a day. It's not large kibble, but it is dry, small kibble. The thing about large kibble is that if and when they do gorge, they tend to throw it up, and you don't want to make eating challenging or not enjoyable, you just want to decrease their appetite. I find with Maia she connects eating and being fed with attention and often will beg for food just for the attention. I can put 5 pieces of food in her bowl, walk away, and she often won't even touch them. Or I just call her away from the kitchen with me and start a game with her (hide and seek or pull out a toy) to change her focus and she forgets she was hungry or begging.
The biggest difference in them is she has never been a garbage digger. She also isn't allowed on the counters in the kitchen, although sometimes she sneaks it. Not that you don't but I would recommend regulating his food, dry only till his appetite is under control. Is he active, agile? 15 pounds is heavy for most cats, especially at 2 years old. If they are over weight by even a couple pounds, it does effect their agility and energy level and it is essential for young cats to be active. Does he have toys and other things to keep him interested while you are gone during the day? Maia has a window perch I made her so she can lie in the window and watch the birds, bask in the sun, that is carpeted. This is her favorite place to be!
post #4 of 13
I would think about switching to free feeding, but a measured amount of food. Stimpy was like that when I tried to do meal feedings. It was an abject failure. He thought I was trying to starv him.

Your cat sounds a lot like Stimpy. He's 17 lbs and we're working on getting down to 15 lbs (he's about 2 lbs overweight). Structurally Stimpy is much larger than the average cat.

Have you thought of adding a bit of canned food to your cat's diet? I think they feel more "full" with wet food. Even when I couldn't give them a lot (budgetwise) I still gave them a treat daily. Stimpy took to that pretty quickly after we adopted him. It just took a while to figure out he likes the healthy stuff best (California Natural is yummy in his book). My other cat, Nabu, transitioned himself to an all canned diet. He just decided he liked it better, and rarely eats more than an occasional bite of kibble. And only if he's really hungry and there's no wet food out.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just gave him about twice as much food as I normally do in the morning, in a deep bowl taped to the top of a shoe box so he has to sit up to eat and can't dive into the bowl. We'll see how fast it takes him to completely empty the bowl this time. I'm watching him and every time it appears he might be done eating, he just goes back to stuffing his face. He doesn't really chew the kibbles, either.

edit: I'm worried that free feeding is going to make him blow up like a balloon. The whole point of me feeding him a little bit at scheduled times was because he is a bit overweight. Should I switch him to a weight loss formula food? He has toys and other things to play with, but the only one he is interested in has red feathers at the end that he would rip apart if I just left it out for him. And yes, I don't think Oz (my cat) is as much overweight as he sounds to be. He is also, structurally, much larger than an average cat, and the vet confirmed this.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by g33k1sch1c View Post
I just gave him about twice as much food as I normally do in the morning, in a deep bowl taped to the top of a shoe box so he has to sit up to eat and can't dive into the bowl. We'll see how fast it takes him to completely empty the bowl this time. I'm watching him and every time it appears he might be done eating, he just goes back to stuffing his face. He doesn't really chew the kibbles, either.
Your kitty already knows he's only going to receive 2 meals a day. While as the others have suggested, free feeding alone may not be the answer. I do think the measured free feeding seems like a potential answer to the problem - but you need a few days to help him "learn" that food isn't going to put down for him only twice a day.

I'd suggest measuring out the proper amount of food for your kitty, and over a weekend, starting as early as possible Friday evening, start putting down just a few pieces of kibble every hour or every half hour. I don't know if 2 days and one evening of this is enough time to make the difference because this feeding schedule has been ingrained for 2 years, but it's worth a shot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by g33k1sch1c View Post
edit: I'm worried that free feeding is going to make him blow up like a balloon. The whole point of me feeding him a little bit at scheduled times was because he is a bit overweight. Should I switch him to a weight loss formula food? He has toys and other things to play with, but the only one he is interested in has red feathers at the end that he would rip apart if I just left it out for him. And yes, I don't think Oz (my cat) is as much overweight as he sounds to be. He is also, structurally, much larger than an average cat, and the vet confirmed this.
It is a worry, which is why I think the measured free-feeding may be the way to go, if you can help retrain his understanding about when food is going to be available.

...just wanted to add.... we have 2 cats that have large frames. At 14 pounds, Shelly is skinny and he could stand to gain a pound. At almost 15 pounds, Lazlo has a very defined waist line when you look down at him from the top and is far from being fat. He's really fit, in fact. He's got basically the same frame size as Shel. Ming Loy, on the other hand, has a frame that isn't much larger than Flowerbelle's. Flowerbelle is 7 pounds and is very small and "dainty" - and at 10 pounds, Ming Loy could stand to lose a pound, but she's handicapped, and the vet is fine with her weight.

It all depends upon the frame size of the cat - there's no way to judge weight in and of itself.

Laurie
post #7 of 13
My first thought, when someone has a perpetually ravenous cat, is to have the cat checked for tapeworm. That's exactly how they act, and if that's what it is, it's easily treatable.
post #8 of 13
That's a really good point. Can you take a fecal sample to a vet?

Laurie
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Update: I've been giving Oz the amount of food I would have given him in the 2 separate feedings combined into one large feeding at the beginning of the day for the past 2 days. Already he's been showing a change in behavior! I put the food out for him at about noon, and it's 9pm and he has only eaten about half of the food. He hasn't been begging, either.
post #10 of 13
I'm not clear on what you're telling us. Are you putting the food down and leaving it down? Or he's just eating it all at once now? Sorry - little confused! But whatever it is, I'm glad it's working!

Laurie
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
No, I'm putting the food down and leaving it down, and he's been eating a little bit every so often throughout the day. The food I put out at noon lasted the entire day, and was the equivalent of what I would have fed him in the two normal feedings combined.
post #12 of 13
i guess i'll bring my little guy to the vet to check for tapeworm.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by g33k1sch1c View Post
No, I'm putting the food down and leaving it down, and he's been eating a little bit every so often throughout the day. The food I put out at noon lasted the entire day, and was the equivalent of what I would have fed him in the two normal feedings combined.
Oh that's excellent! I'm so glad he's doing better just free feeding.

Laurie
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