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Switching from free-feeding to scheduled feedings?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have two neutered male cats with vastly different dietary issues. All the time that I've had them, I've been free-feeding dry food. However, due to health issues with Oliver (see the "Vibes and prayers for Oliver" thread for details), I may have to start feeding them different foods.

I suspect that Rocky has food allergies (either corn or wheat is my guess), so the food that Oliver needs to manage his cystitis may not be appropriate for Rocky.

1. How do I get them adjusted from free-feeding to scheduled feedings?
2. How do I keep them out of each other's food that might make them sick?

I'd like to know what has worked for other cat moms and dads in this situation. Thanks!
post #2 of 9
Start diving up a day s worth of food and giving only part say to start at 3 different times of day

You may want to try feeding at the same times in different rooms
post #3 of 9
You do it gradually. Instead of free feeding, try to schedule 3 meals at first. And feed the cats in separate rooms with doors closed till they finish. If you feed a portion meal, you can see how long it takes them to eat.

Maybe start with 1/2 hour locked up. After that time, take the food up and put it away. Offer it again at the next mealtime, etc.

Eventually you should be able to get them to 2 scheduled meals a day and they will learn to eat it when served.
post #4 of 9
I had to do this, and essentially what golden kitty said worked (although now they are on the same food so feeding is in the same room, but since they are trained to eat right away it wouldn't matter anyways!!)

Anyways I started by taking away their free feed food overnight.
The next morning I seperated them and left them a portion of food for 40 minutes while I was having a shower and getting ready for work. They nibbled but didn't eat much. I took it away and left them for the day. I came home and did it again, they ate more because they were hungry but not all. I took away the food and let them loose. It only took them just over a week, and now they pretty much eat what I put down infront of them! but now that kismet isn't on prescription food I don't take away the food if they don't finish.

Once you get them in a routine you should be able to have them eating in the same room in different places.
post #5 of 9
Hi !
I just accomplished my transition from free feeding dry food to scheduled feeding. ... it toook me 2 weeks and things are better now.

So first I took the dry food away in the evening and gave them a small bowl with food and i kept doing it 3 times a day. I try to make it at the same time but work does not allow me to have a steady schedule, but it is in a range of 1 hr more or less

At the beginning, they woke me up at 6 am... but now they are used to wait for me to wake me up ... at 7.30 am... so is better.

It was not so hard as I thought, and I can control better what they eat, one needs more wet food, the other is a little chubby, so I want him to loose a little of weight...

My problem will be when I will go away... how to find someone to come and feed the cats 3 times a day.. does anyone use the automatic feeder?
Anyway this will be in about 6 months because work season started ...
post #6 of 9
I'd like to speak to one aspect of all this, that being the frequency of feeding.

So, consider the following in your overall plan...

Naturally, our cats will eat in the range of 12-20+ times a day...small meals each time. They are small cats, and small cats' systems work very differently from most other mammals, including large cats (lions/tigers). Just as small cats are "obligate carvivores", they are also "obligate grazers".

This was written by a Vet on another board: (and used here with her permission)
"...if one isn't home or set up for frequent feeding, or believes that
cats are little lions, to let a cat go hours and hours without a meal
runs counter to the way their metabolism works
. Certain metabolic
functions in cats occur in the *fed* state whereas in ourselves they
occur in the fasting state, overnight. That's why we call breakfast
"break fast", because we fasted all night. Cats don't, they eat."

Hope this helps in formulating your plan!
post #7 of 9
Since I made the previous post (which I realize could be seen to contradict your stated intention of "scheduling" vs allowing free-feeding) I've had a couple of additional thoughts.

First, you stated that Rocky may be allergic to corn or wheat. Well, while he may be allergic, he might also be telling you something about feline nutrition! Simply put, cats are not omnivores, they're carnivores by design. We've gotten into feeding our cats grainy foods thanks to the good ol' pet food industry, which uses grains to make cat food because grains are cheaper than meat ingredients.

So, it seems to me that, while you say each of your cats has "vastly different dietary needs", a closer look might suggest that this probably isn't the case.

There's a thread on this board that might help with your choice of foods. It's here

Here's what I do for overnight feeding for my five. I use Wellness grain-free canned food. I add about 1/4 cup of hot water to a 5oz can and mix it up, so that it's "soupy". I ladle it out on five small plates. The extra water has all kinds of benefits, including that it keeps everything from drying out for most of the night. By morning there are only crumbs left on the plates (and, when I start picking them up, my one little "cookie monster" comes running to get the remaining crunchies!)

If you decide to investigate further, one suggestion I would give is to use the larger cans...they're far more economical.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hey, thanks everyone for your replies, especially Blaise. I think I'll stick with the free-feeding.

Now my next question -- what are some good alternatives to Hill's Prescription c/d? Oliver was diagnosed with idiopathic cystitis, and he hasn't had any problems since I switched them to the c/d, but Rocky's lost most of the fur on his underside. The skin's healthy underneath, and there's no sign of fleas or ticks. The vet said it's stress-induced, but I really think he's allergic to something in the c/d.
post #9 of 9
He could be but since C/D is RX by the vet for a MEDICAL condition you need to adress it with the vet
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