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switching from free feeding to portions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I apologise for this being so long.

We are experiencing a slight behavior problem trying to switch our cats from having all the food they desire to limited portions per day.

Last Friday our vet ordered us to stop allowing our two indoor only cats to "free feed". The vet suggests we feed them no more than 3/4 cup per cat per day. The vet feels that they are at good weights now, and doesn't want them to become overweight.

Our one year old female, Sophie, is on a special presciption food (ScienceDiet z/d) because of her gum disease. We have not been successful trying to separate their food, so our 10 month old male, Ray, eats this food as well (which vet says is OK). It is fairly "greasy" which the vet considers high fat.

I imagine their stomachs need to adjust from eating a lot to eating less. So this week, we are trying to get them used to not having food in the bowl all the time. This past week we've been feeding them approximately four times a day, one handful of food each (more than enough to cover the bottom of their dishes). They're fed at 5:30a when boyfriend gets up, again at 7:30a when I get up, 5:30p when we get home, and 10p or so when we go to bed.

The behavior problem is that all week Ray has been waking us up at 3:30a or 4:00a because he's hungry again. We try to ignore him or ask him to wait another couple of hours until we get up. This is important sleeping time for us. It would be really easy to just give them a little to eat, but I am trying not to give in to his demands because I don't want to reinforce this behavior - teaching him that if he wakes us up he'll get his way.

I've tried getting out of bed and bringing him back to bed with us. In the past if I make him lay between us for a little bit, he falls asleep. This has not been working.

Thank you for any suggestions...
post #2 of 8
Hi Sophie&Ray

It is pretty difficult trying to feed multiple cats. One way you can feed them is to put down dry food and let them eat as much as they want for one hour. After an hour, pick up the dishes. Do the same thing again the next feeding cycle. Cats are creatures of habit. They will get into a routine after a while. Other than that, I'm not sure what else you can do.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

Good luck.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi Donna

Thank you for your reply.

What you say makes good sense. It didn't occur to me that maybe part of the reason they are reacting is because they see that their bowls are empty and they've always known them to be full. Tonight when I get home I will let them eat for the hour, then pull their bowls until bedtime. We'll have our play session this evening, and maybe that will preoccupy them and they will forget what they are missing.

I really enjoy reading the different opinions and experiences shared here in the forums!
post #4 of 8
Donna's right. Feed them once and put up the food - same time each day. If your cat wakes you up in the middle of the night, put it outside or in your garage, and get a good night's sleep. Who's in charge here?
post #5 of 8
It is hard listening to them fuss, I know. You just have to keep in mind that they will benifit from all of this. Sometimes it can take a few months, but they will get used to not having a full bowl all the time. They may even enjoy and look forward to the next meal time. I agree that if the food bowls are up..out of sight...out of mind.
As for putting them in a garage or outside(Guntherhead)...if they are indoor cats only then all you are doing is punishing for something they dont understand. They havwe been programed for something and then it's taken away. My 6 year old gets upset when I make her do something she doesnt understand...however I dont put her out.
post #6 of 8
Sandie - Your 6 year old is not a CAT!!!!!!!
post #7 of 8
I guess its fortunate for my cats that they are just as important to me as my human child.
post #8 of 8
Sorry to jump in here like this but I call my kitty my little girl and my mother is her grandmother. A good 98% of the time Lily is in charge of our household. I would never punish my cat for something she does not understand, I deeply hope you don't do the same.
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