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Impulse eating!!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
We adopted our cat from the SPCA two years ago. I'm not too sure what her previous owners did to her but there's been a few things we've noticed (ie: scared of vacuums, like petrified... even if I move it a couple inches to get at something else, she's under the bed right away!) but one thing I noticed, perhaps it was just because she was at the shelter and was only fed once a day is when we go and feed her, she goes absolutely crazy!! She gets fed three times a day... we can't just leave food in her dish as she'll eat every last piece of food (I've caught her a few times licking her dish). Anyway, the question I'm asking is how can we "train" her to leave food in her dish? I can't even get my hand out of the way by the time the food hits her dish... she's right in there eating it as if it's her last meal! Is there a way I can let her know that it's OK to leave some food in her dish and that it's not her last meal!

Also - is there any way I can get her to not be afraid of the vacuum? We live in an apartment building and they had to come in yesterday to clean out our dryer vents but of course, they brought a vacuum in and a) she hates strangers; b) she hates the sound of a vacuum so obviously she went nuts and ran into the bedroom and I found her cowering in the corner of the closet behind a bunch of stuff. I don't know if her previous owners scared her with the vacuum? From her SPCA paper work, it says she's been with TWO other families (aside from ours!) so who knows what she's been through in the past. She really is a sweetheart if she's comfortable with you. She's fine with strangers once they come in, introduce themselves to her but she can sense when people aren't "cat friendly".. but if they are, she'll slowly come around and start to cuddle/hang out.
post #2 of 28
well, i have no suggestions for either problem - altho i will tell you that 4 of my 5 are big wusses when it comes to the vacuum, too. Java will watch, but the others all disappear when it makes an appearance & comes on.

welcome to TCS!
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
The other thing is we don't even know how old she is! The paperwork said that she was 4 years and 2 months when we adopted her (in April 2007) but she has a tattoo in her ear that directed me to her old vet so when I went to her old vet to find out more information on her, they said her birthdate was August 2001! If I'm doing my math right, if the paper work said 4yrs 2 mo's, it means she was born in February 2003? That's a couple years difference! Either way, it's hard to tell what her previous owners did/didn't do. I just wish I could "train" her to a) not be afraid of the vacuum!! It's not going to eat her! The poor thing has a panic attack when she hears it!; b) for her to leave some food in her dish.
I've noticed if we go away and have someone look after her while we're gone, when we come back and feed her, she'll actually leave food in her dish. Perhaps she thinks that if the person is only coming once a day it's a good idea to leave some food in the dish just in case whereas if we're around and we feed her 3 times a day, she doesn't know if her next meal is coming or she's not risking anything if she doesn't leave any food in her dish? I don't know... She just acts as though it's her last meal and she's dying of hunger! We give her a fair amount of food so it's not that we're starving her. It's just getting that message across that it is OK to leave some food and not to act as though she's starving AND it's OK not to run away when I bring out the vacuum!! It's too bad there's no such thing as a "Cat Whisperer"!
post #4 of 28
Have you taken her to the vet in regards to the impulse eating??? Cats, like humans, have a chemical in their brain that tells them that they are full and to stop eating.....but also like humans, there can be many reasons, that are health related...that might make her not have that "switch".

Best of Luck to You,

Rob & Sport
post #5 of 28
I have 2 cats, one was a stray and one was adopted from the pound. The stray leaves food behind, but the adopted one doesn't. She'll eat every single little morsel in her bowl at feeding time. At feeding time, she acts like we never feed her!! Believe you me, she's VERY well fed and healthy. We can't leave food out for either cat as they'd be as big as the house if we did. I think it's just a personal issue for each cat.

Neither of my cats like the vacuum cleaner. I think it's the noise that they don't like. They both run and hide when it even comes out of the closet. We've never used it as a weapon or discipline tool against them. My dogs didn't like the vacuum either. I wouldn't worry about it.

Stephanie
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
She needs to go to the vet in a couple months for her shots, etc so I may ask him then. We just moved last year and the vet we took her to before never really said anything about it... she was REALLY overweight when we first adopted her (I think she was about 14lbs!) and now she's down to 10-11lbs (looks much better, we can see where her hips are!). Over the past couple years we've had her we managed to get her weight down by limiting the food we give her... ie: we don't fill her dish up to the top but it's enough! I've been tempted a few times just to fill it to the top and see if she leaves anything in her dish. At the SPCA that's what she had, a big dish (and I mean BIG!) of food! I'm wondering if that's where it came from... she thinks that if we feed her, it's her last meal for the day or her life! lol Stephanie - Lucy, my cat, does the same exact thing! She acts as though we don't feed her... we do! lol But she starts prancing from her food bucket to her food dish meowing, telling us that she NEEDS to be fed!!

It would just be nice to be able to vacuum and have her sit on the couch, stay in one spot without having a panic frenzy and go into hiding for the rest of the day! We live in an apartment right now so there's not much space around so we have to stick the vacuum in where the washer/dryer are and her food! Perhaps if we put the vacuum out in plain sight for her to see, investigate on her own time, she may become OK with it?
post #7 of 28
Harley hates the vacuum cleaner - she will run into my son's room and hide under the bed if she even hears me get it out of the closet. Which I completely accept, because it's super-loud and she's very shy. My previous cat, Snickers () on the other hand, would sit on the top of my couch and happily watch me vacuum. My dog never liked the vacuum cleaner, either. Think about how sensitive animals' hearing is - the vacuum cleaner must truly be an awful noise. I really wouldn't worry about her not liking it.

Harley used to scarf all of her food when I first got her. She came from a house with a male cat who was much larger than her and who I suspect was eating all of the food put down for both of them. She also didn't appear to be all that well taken care of, either, (compared to the other cat) and I'm not sure of her age - she's between 4 and 5. When she came home, it was a complete novelty to her to have her own bowl of food, and she thought that everytime I fed her, it was her last meal. She would eat everything in her bowl and cry terribly for more. Or she'd eat way too fast as if someone was going to take her food away, and it'd all come back up again. At first, I relented a bit because she was thin when I brought her home. But once she filled out and was at a more normal weight, I give her a set amount of food every day - she gets wet food in the morning, and I split her dry into two meals. Once she finishes it, I don't give her anything else - no matter how much noise she makes. I play with her and give her something other than food to think about. It took her about a month to leave dry food in her bowl, and now she leaves some pretty regularly.

She also (and still does somewhat) had a thing about me standing there while she ate, as if I had to protect her while she was eating. It's gotten less and less, though, over the past 3 months.

I think too, that cats can learn to be manipulative about trying to get food, just like dogs can. If they know meowing and protesting is going to get them something, they'll keep doing it. Talk to your vet about it and see what he/she says - there's probably lots of solutions to your problem, and you just have to find the one that works the best for you and your kitty. Good luck!
post #8 of 28
When Callie, my older cat, came to live with me, she'd run and hide in the closet every time I wheeled out the vacuum. She'd stay there for most of the day. Now, 10 years later, she only goes into hiding until we quit running the vacuum. She can even stay in the same room with the vacuum in plain sight not running!

I don't think I'd be too concerned about either issue.
post #9 of 28
After kittenhood my cat grew massive when the food was left down all day, she couldn't control herself. This is an active cat too and healthy according to vet bloodwork and exam, but the cat loves to eat and eat a ton. I feed on a schedule now though. treats included.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
We used to give our cat fancy feast (only half a can once a day) but the vet we had said to stop it completely as it was making her gain weight. When we stopped that "snack" for her and just gave her the dry food she really started to really lose weight. We give her treats now and then if she's been good... unfortunately we've made the mistake of giving her TOO many treats in one sitting!! You see when she's done eating, she's fine. She's quiet, cute and usually flops down on the carpet. I tried grabbing her water dish last time I fed her to see if she would notice (even poking her, showing her that I'm grabbing it), trying to distract her but she kept eating like crazy! I may just ask the vet when we bring her in and see what he can suggest. We can't even leave her alone for a day because we can't leave food in her dish! We have to have someone come and look after her to make sure she eats a few hours apart.

I don't really care about the vacuum thing but I just find it's overreacting on her part lol Our vacuum makes a noise when you grab the handle and even that noise and she's gone! I just wish I could get it across to her and let her know that she doesn't have to run away when I vacuum! I can understand how the sound of it can be aggravating - especially the high pitch sound when you vacuum around corners with the hose!
post #11 of 28
my Pixel is 11 years old, & she still hides from the vacuum. i've had her since she was 7 weeks old, never even attempted to use the vacuum on her [some cats like that, btw] or threatened her w/it in any way.
your girl will probably hide from it for the rest of her life.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
my Pixel is 11 years old, & she still hides from the vacuum. i've had her since she was 7 weeks old, never even attempted to use the vacuum on her [some cats like that, btw] or threatened her w/it in any way.
your girl will probably hide from it for the rest of her life.
Ya, it may just be something she does for the rest of her life! I can't do much on my end and be like, "Don't hide!" lol (although that would make things much easier)
post #13 of 28
As far as the over eating, some kitties are for whatever reasons, just like some of us.......Maia is a repeat offender of the kitchen and begging for food! I have to feed her small portions throughout the day because she will gorge herself sometimes to the point of throwing up but more importantly getting fat! She is the first that I have had where I haven't been able to leave any dry food out. I often distract her from the kitchen/begging behavior with love and toys!
The vacuum can be stressful for some more then others. Maia definitely stays clear but will stay in the same room and watch from a distance. If she is really terrified of the vacuum, it would be best to announce when you are going to use it so she can go to a safe place ahead of time so shes not startled.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yeah Lucy is VERY terrified of the vacuum. Even a knock on our door and she's going, "WHO IS THAT!?" and looks all around in a panic. She hates things that are not familiar to her regular environment. That's actually a good point - allowing her to be in a safe place that she feels comfortable with and then bring out the vacuum. Normally I just grab the vacuum and don't even think of it from a kitty perspective and how traumatizing it could be for them.

I've grown up with cats since I was born so I'm used to them but the cats I grew up with were never scared of the vacuum or never ate all of their food in their dish at once. How can I distract her from her food dish though when she's eating as though she's dying and needs her food? lol She LOVES string and I've tried that, dangling it around the food dish to get her attention to get her mind on something else but that doesn't work. She doesn't go for any actual "cat toys" you buy at the store... string + laser toys seem to work the best with her (ie: when she's not eating!). It's like she gets tunnel vision the minute her face hits the dish - nothing else matters! It could be an earthquake and she'd probably still keep eating!
post #15 of 28
well, if you can't feed several small meals a day, you might look into treat/puzzle balls.
tricky treat ball
treat ball
twist-n-treat
post #16 of 28
She's training you to freak out about her food! Sometimes when they're begging for food, and you know darn good and well that it's not time for them to eat, you just have to ignore them. They'll eventually give up and move on to some other activity, like napping.

As a side note, I'd start incorporating some good quality canned food into her diet. Cut back some on the dry amount you're feeding and the treats and substitute some canned food. She'll enjoy it and it's good for her!
post #17 of 28
I to grew up around kitties, they have always been an essential part of my life! Maia is similar to your girl, she is terrified of strangers. She won't let anyone touch her but me, and she lets me do almost anything, well to an extent! She also is my first compulsive eater experience.
There really is no way to encourage them to eat less when fed other then giving them smaller portions throughout the day. Never feel bad if you separate breakfast in 2 portions then they wait till dinner 8-10 hours later (if you are gone all day) and is in 2 portions. This helps reduce their appetite and regulate their digestive system.
Some methods of distraction I use with her when she is in full begging mode are talking to her, lewer her away with sometimes a string or whatever it is that I might be doing at the time, simply making sure she walks away interested in me and not feeling rejected by not getting fed. Sometimes I do walk away, especially when I know there is no way she is really hungry! Most of Maia's begging is attention seeking
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
You know what's funny? We fed her tonight and when she had a few kernels left in her food dish and walked away from it! I was baking cookies in the kitchen and saw this and had to tell my fiance... I'm like, "LOOK!" he goes, "Whoa.. that never happens!" But then she realized there was food left and walks back to her dish. I took it away and hid it from her thinking that maybe if it's not in front of her she will give up and walk away... but of course she kept prancing around wondering where her food was! Even 10-20 minutes later, she keeps walking back and forth looking for her food! I tried taking the string as a distraction and moving it around the kitchen floor but that lasted only a couple seconds and she went back to where her food normally is.

The other thing too I was thinking of is I've seen those machines where there's say 5-6 little trays and the machine can rotate around these little trays regulating the amount of food the cat gets per feeding. They're more meant for when you're away and unable to feed your cat. I think you can set the time for how long each section rotates but that could be an option. That way we could feed her without actually having to be home to feed her and so she wouldn't have to rely on us 24/7. (yes there's been a few times where she's got me up at 4am + 6am, licking my hair, head butting me, etc).
post #19 of 28
Food obsession. I don't even know where to begin.
I have 5 cats, 2 of them have food issues, 1 of them is obese.
Sid (the obese one) is part Maine Coon & the vets always suspect that he'd be around 20 pounds. He's massive without the fat included. but he's obsessed with cat food, not concerned with people food. He'll literally lay down & scoop the food into his mouth with his paw. I wish I was kidding. He's 13 now & when I was younger, I was a bit ignorant about diets & had them on crappy food, but believe me, I've had him on diets & exercise for years. He gets Hills W/D. When he was a few years old he had struvite crystals (urinary tract issue). The thinnest we can get him is 24-25 pounds. He once crept up to 28 pounds. I have to take the food away from the floor once they've had their fill, or he'll eat every kibble. even wet food. he likes to eat it with his paws.

but the guilt kills me. I can see the effects of the weight gain. it's harder for him to jump higher, etc. Oh the guilt. I'll lose him earlier than I could have.
i saw his mother at the ASPCA, so it wasn't their fault. He was weaned on time, etc. I think I know what happened... when he was a kitten i trained him to come to the sound of bell for food & i'd praise him. it didn't take long until he knocked the bell about, trying to ring it himself to get food & attention. i think he associates food w/ affection & praise. he's a really smart cat! I got another cat the same day & that cat is fine. no food issues.

the other food issue cat, Iggy (3 years old) is a people food cat. you can't leave anything out. i've found scones, croissants & even bread snatched from the counters. he'd eat anything if you let him. He even dragged corn cobs out of the garbage once, but has since learned that garbage picking will NOT be tolerated. he eyes your food & will watch hypnotized as I move my hand up & down toward my mouth with food in hand. it's crazy. I got him at 5 weeks old & know that the kids that found him kept him in their tree house for a week, feeding him human food that they snuck from the table. eggs were on the menu....

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know... I know a whole lot about cats these days, I research a lot, have had lots of cats since I was a baby (mom was a breeder of siamese when I was little) & I have 5 to study, but food issues are a mystery to me.

They all eat Hill's W/D (dry), but one (13 years) is coming off of it. His weight dropped a bit & I'm too concerned to keep him on it. He's fine, the vet looked him over, but still.... I'm thinking that I'll switch them all to wet food & build a raised platform so that Sid can't lay down & shovel it into his mouth! but there must be MORE that I can do....
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheena13 View Post
They all eat Hill's W/D (dry), but one (13 years) is coming off of it. His weight dropped a bit & I'm too concerned to keep him on it. He's fine, the vet looked him over, but still.... I'm thinking that I'll switch them all to wet food & build a raised platform so that Sid can't lay down & shovel it into his mouth! but there must be MORE that I can do....
if you're successful @ switching everyone to all wet, i think you'll see a loss in your overweight cats. also, you may find that you can find a better for than the W/D for a similar price, or possibly even lower. i think the Hill's foods are quite overpriced for the quality.
post #21 of 28
Laureen, do you have any recommendations for a brand of food?
I've been feeding them the Hills w/d for SO long. Before that it was Nutromax & way better foods are in the American pet stores these days. (I've been in Ireland for 4 years where food choices are slim, so Hill's was a good choice to keep them on.) Only one of them needs to lose the weight, but I'd like to keep them all on the same food for the sake of sanity. I also want a food that will prevent any struvite, or urinary track issues. There was never a repeat an incidence of urinary tract issues, so that was a positive.
post #22 of 28
Regarding vacuum cleaners: I wonder how it would work to play some soothing music at a fairly high volume when running the cleaner is running. I haven't tried this, but I'm just wondering.
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheena13 View Post
Laureen, do you have any recommendations for a brand of food?
I've been feeding them the Hills w/d for SO long. Before that it was Nutromax & way better foods are in the American pet stores these days. (I've been in Ireland for 4 years where food choices are slim, so Hill's was a good choice to keep them on.) Only one of them needs to lose the weight, but I'd like to keep them all on the same food for the sake of sanity. I also want a food that will prevent any struvite, or urinary track issues. There was never a repeat an incidence of urinary tract issues, so that was a positive.
i know some of our UK/European members order from zooplus... you might PM Rosiemac (UK), jcat (Germany) or Kattengek (Netherlands) & see what they feed/where they shop.
i think there's at least one other member in Ireland, but i can't remember her username .
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by yelloweyes View Post
Regarding vacuum cleaners: I wonder how it would work to play some soothing music at a fairly high volume when running the cleaner is running. I haven't tried this, but I'm just wondering.
I think that would just make it worse (extra loud!)

My boys are very laid back, but they too vamoose at the sound/sight of the vacuum. The second it's put away they reappear, though.
post #25 of 28
ah yes, but I'm moving back to NYC (yay) on Monday, so I'll be able to have great access to food! any suggestions welcome. I'd love to be able to dedicate myself to a raw diet, alas, I have way too much on my plate.
post #26 of 28
well, in that case, depending on your price limitations, there are LOADS of good ones out there! are you looking for wet, dry, a combo? do you want a grain-free?
post #27 of 28
well, Hill's w/d is already expensive (and prescription) so I can't imagine that the price will be too much more!

I'm thinking a grain free wet diet will be good for them, occasional dry food (for when I have a cat sitter, etc). I've been reading a bit about Wellness & it seems like the way to go? I don't want to feed too much protein as 3 of them are getting older & I worry about kidney failure, etc. but I might have it al wrong.... I do have good water drinkers, which helps! They have a cat fountain & they love drinking from a tall water pitcher, so it does seem as if their systems are being flushed properly.

But yeah, my one (obese) cat has been on this diet for years & its done nothing past a few pounds (which probably shed due to exercise), so clearly it's not working. The vet said that I'm doing everything "right." Then the other cat (not overweight) dropped weight last week. It happened fast & was alarming. I immediately fed him wet food & within mere days he picked up weight, so I know it's mandatory that he stops. He's back to the vet tomorrow & I will discuss it, but I'm guessing that it's almost like IBD, or some gastric issue. But he's not getting the nutrition absorbed into his body...

Back to NY on Monday & there's a pet store right down the block that sells Wellness, Innova & Nutro. They're not picky cats & will generally eat what they're given.
post #28 of 28
Cats have very sensitive hearing. To a cat, a vacuum cleaner probably sounds like a jackhammer would to us. A vacuum cleaner is also a lot bigger than the cat. Cats are small animals that evolved to survive in the wild by running away fast and hiding from anything bigger and more aggressive. They originally come from the Sahara desert. Imagine how quiet it must be there. Any really loud noise was probably a threat to them: e.g., a large predator like a lion that might eat them, or an elephant that could step on them. So running away from a vacuum cleaner is normal behavior for a cat and I don't think you can train them out of it. A quieter model of vacuum cleaner might be a little less scary, but maybe not.

I adopted my cat from a shelter and he eats like a dog! That is, he will clean out his bowl as fast as possible and want more more more. Initially I left food out for him, but he started gaining a lot of weight so now I have to limit what I give him. He's not happy about it! He gets fed twice a day and he is always begging for more food, which is not so fun for me at 5 a.m. He acts like he's starving, but he's actually still on the chubby side. Unfortunately the alternative is to have an unhealthy, overweight cat. I think all cats are different. Some will only eat what they need but others are chronic overeaters.
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