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How do you free-feed cats with kittens around?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
MaeMae has entered the general population of cats in our small home... we still keep her set-up in the shower/bathroom for night and when we're not here... but during the day we've been making sure the door is open so she has access to her dry food. She now uses the "big kitties" litter boxes, though we keep her small one in the bathroom, too. (Shelly likes using it though, and it's so funny to watch him trying use that little box!)

Anyway, Tuxedo has a metabolism that requires a special prescription diet. ALL of the cats slip into the bathroom to munch on MaeMae's food, though she can't (yet) access theirs as it's up on a table. That'll change soon enough though.

Do we stop free-feeding them? Right now, the "big" cats get one meal of wet food a day - but that's more of a "treat" really - it's not enough food to provide any real nutritional value. We let MaeMae eat one meal with them (her food) - but she and either Lazlo or Shelly usually end up switching bowls. We haven't been too worried about this, because we give them so little food and mix it with water... and we feed her several times a day her wet kitten food and milk in the bathroom with the door closed. (She's about 7 - 8 weeks old

So MaeMae is getting plenty of kitten food. And normally I wouldn't worry about the cats eating the kitten food, because they still primarily eat their own food.... but Tuxedo CAN'T eat the kitten food! ALL of the cats (except for MaeMae) now eat his prescription food (it's fine for all of them).

We had to take him to the vet today with another bladder infection! We felt so so so so so so so so so terrible .... because there was also a small blockage of mucus and a little bit of blood, and the vet wants to keep him until at least Friday to hydrate him and express his bladder frequently.

Is there any way we can free feed the cats and MaeMae? I can't think of one! The Vet said it's fine if MaeMae eats some of the prescription food for the big cats, but she needs to get most of her nutrition from the kitten food. And if we don't free feed the cats, how often should we be putting food down for them? They're so used to being able to munch a little when they wake up from a nap... I'd so hate to take that away from them.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 7
Get a box and cut a Mae Mae sizes hole into it. Put the box up side down over her food. Only she will be able to get to it through the little opening.
post #3 of 7
I have 4 cats; 16yo, 14yo, 8mo, 10wks. The 14yo is on a special needs diet for Feline Liver Disease (FLD). I must be diligent about making sure he eats and drinks. Therefore he is fed and watered in my walk-in closet. I make every effort to keep his food private unto himself. The 8mo is very ill at the moment, and must also be closely monitored. She is fed in the spare bathroom.

I don't have much of a problem with them eating each other's food, as they each have their own taste preferences so I cater to that. Each has his/her own dishes maintained in separate areas. If I catch one sniffing around someone else's bowl, I quickly divert the culprit's attention to his own dish.

I read in your post that one of your cats is getting a wet kitten food and milk? Is that dairy milk? I don't feed my cats any dairy products whatsoever. I don't believe it's good for them; and dairy products can cause constipation. I'm sure a more experienced member will chime in on the ramifications of dairy products in a cat's diet.
post #4 of 7
I have cats ranging from 12 weeks to 15 years old. I have had kittens almost continuously with adult cats for the last 5 years. I free feed them all and haven't solved this dilemna. I have the added problem of overweight cats who need lite food, and a chronic renal failure cat who needs a special diet.

After LOTS of discussions with the vet, we only free feed adult maintenance (science diet of course), the one food that won't really hurt any of them (middle ground). Once a day the kittens and special diet kitties get a supervised meal of their own at their own special place in the house. I lock the kittens on the porch with their bowls, the CRF cat in the bathroom with his bowl, my 15 year old sits on my lap, etc. Special meal time takes about 1/2 hour each day, but what the hey, they are my babies!

I like the box with small holes idea!!
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Teresa, that's a great idea!!!!

...and just FYI the kitty is 7 weeks old and was bottle fed KRM. Since she's older now, we still give her a couple tablespoons of Cat Milk (lactose free with Taurine added) in the morning and evening.
post #6 of 7
Glad I could help!
post #7 of 7
I like the box idea but beware of clever cats that can tip it over.

Just a note, I have 13 cats, 1 adult foster and 2 kitten fosters. I do NOT free feed! (at the young age, the kittens have a room of their own, and are free fed, but after they are integrated they eat on schedule)
I feed morning and night (and mid-day for the kittens). Each and every cat has his or her own designated area that is inaccessible to the others, so I know EXACTLY what and how much they are eating. If they are off feed, I know instantly. And if I need to change a diet, it is safe that they WILL get the food they need. 9 of them eat in carriers and the others in a separate room behind a closed door. NO SHARING.
Just thought I'd let you know that this is a real possiblilty.
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