How to feed our cats?
September 27, 2009 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Question on the feeding of two cats with different eating disorders.

We adopted two cats, Tiger and Grey, a couple of years ago. They are both now approximately three and a half years old. Tiger is a good-natured cat that will eat continuously until he throws up. Grey is a very anxious cat and will usually poop on our bed upon our return from being away for more than two days.

Here is their food history:
- We were feeding them on an all wet Friskies diet, but the vet told us to feed them dry as well.
- We switched to a Science Diet mix of less wet and some dry, hoping that if we mixed the dry in with the wet, it would slow Tiger down. This did not work.
- We found a lot of MeFi-ers recommending higher quality foods to prevent this. We switched to MaxCat. This did work for Tiger, but then Grey started having chronic diarrhea. According to our vet who did many tests and found nothing, his diarrhea was likely a food allergy.
- Now they are both on a bland Science Diet I/D wet and dry diet as before, only Tiger has returned to throwing it up, once or twice a week.
- Grey still has diarrhea, 1 month later, despite my administering anti-diarrheal meds and a probiotic to him for a little over two weeks after the vet visit.

Here is their feeding-style history:
- We have tried feeding the cats in separate rooms, Tiger in the kitchen and Grey in an adjacent spare room.
- When we leave the door to Grey’s room open, Tiger will eat all of his food quickly, then take over Grey’s food and eat until he throws up.
- We have changed the food bowls so they are deeper and he cannot eat as fast. This did not work.
- We have tried feeding each cat a separate diet, but because this entails both separate dry and wet foods for each cat twice a day, this was not a long-term option that we, as pet-owners, could maintain.
- When we close the door to Grey’s room for 30 minutes to give him time to eat, he will not eat all his food at once, and Tiger will finish Grey’s food once the door has been opened. Sometimes he will throw up from this.
- When we remove the food after the 30 minutes, Tiger will eat more quickly when next he is fed and definitely throw it up.
- When we remove the food after the 30 minutes and leave a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of dry food out between meals, Grey will eat throughout the day and, as a result, has gained 2 lbs. in the past year.

In addition, I have tried Feliway plug-ins and collars to help our anxious cat calm down, but they do not appear to help his upset stomach at this time. I cannot afford to medicate him with Prozac or any other long-term medication.

Where I stand is that I have a cat with diarrhea, despite food switches, and a cat that throws up because of the food switches. I am close to a breaking point with this, as I feel I have exhausted almost every option to meet the dietary needs of these two cats.
posted by lolalivia to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
My friend's cat, Sir Vomitus, does much better with a steroid pill in a pill pocket, a meat flavored treat with space for a pill in it, every other day. If you're not against meds I'd look into it. If you decide to buy the pill pockets they're MUCH cheaper on Amazon than in stores.
posted by ShadePlant at 8:14 AM on September 27, 2009

Ask your vet if he thinks inflammatory bowel disease is a possibility. If it is, then as ShadePlant says, steroids are the way to go. Once you get the problem under control, you can titrate the dose down to the lowest possible to keep the IBD in check.

But before you do that, here are some relatively simple things to try. First of all, stop feeding your cats Science Diet or any other vet prescribed food. It's complete crap. The first ingredient in every single one of Science Diet's formulations is corn. Cats are obligate carnivores whose diet should be 95% animal-sourced. The corn and grain and other crap they put in commercial diets is the reason diabetes and things like IBD have become epidemic in modern cats. The only reason your vet pushes Science Diet is that the entire vet industry is basically paid by the big pet food manufacturers to do so. It's a huge a profit center for vets.

Put your cats on a grain-free, ultra-premium cat food like Wellness, Nature's Variety, EVO, Fromm, Merrick, or any one of the dozen other ultra-premium brands that are available in both wet and dry varieties. It's entirely possible that once your fast-eating cat is getting the nutrition he actually needs, that he will stop inhaling his food (although the behavior may be wired at this point).

Put the food in a bowl designed to slow down fast eaters. Google "slow feed bowl". You can engineer your own low-tech (but harder to clean version) by filling the cats bowl with washable plastic balls or any other washable object that is too big to swallow, but which the cat must maneuver around to get to at the food.

Get a timed dispenser for the dry food.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Someone had a feed two cats question last week, it might have some useful answers.
posted by Atreides at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2009

Seconding grain-free meat based food - everything else is like living off of microwave dinners for humans.
I had a similar situation with two cats / different diets and I have to say I am all about the free-feeding. If there is always at least half a bowl of food available, it's impossible for a cat continuously eat forever.

My situation involved my young active always free-fed cat and an older very very overweight non active cat who was put on a "diet" when I moved in (1/4 cup once a day?). Having to enforce the "diet" while hiding my cat's bowl of always available food made me crazy, so finally I just put down two huge bowls of food (I use Happy Paws ) and kept them full until the fat cat couldn't eat it all anymore. True, for the first few days he ate like crazy - because he was in survival starvation mode. Once he realized there would ALWAYS be a lot of food, whenever he wanted it, he stopped inhaling food and just ate when he was hungry. No, he didn't loose weight, but he didn't get any fatter in the long run, and he was definitely happier.

I don't live there any more, thankfully.

But yeah, get some real food and leave it out. Let Tiger puke his guts out for a couple of days, until he gets the idea that the food will not go away. And then just keep food in the dish.

Give wet food once a day in a separate bowl, but leave dry out 24/7.
posted by smartypantz at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2009

FWIW, my kitty is on prozac and it is $8/month.
posted by k8t at 9:29 PM on September 27, 2009

I had good luck slowing down my pukey cats dry food with golf balls in their dish of dry food. I fed them in a regulation frisbee (not a gimme frisbee as it was too easy for them to flip the balls out). The frisbee let me keep enough food down for both cats so that they wouldn't run out. When we adopted a couple of kittens they had no problem adapting.

You can put the frisbee and the golf balls in the dishwasher - use a colander turned right side up for the golf balls.

I've always fed my cats wet food more as a condiment. Whatever the finicky doesn't eat right away gets picked up and put in the fridge until next time. After she gets a couple of tries at it, the heathens (I mean kittens) are allowed to finish it, but by then there isn't much left.
posted by zinfandel at 9:31 PM on September 27, 2009

Response by poster: We now have a timed dispenser that disperses 1/3 cup of food every 4 1/2 hours. Our vet has mentioned the possibility of irritable bowel for Grey, and after looking up some non-grain based foods, we switched to Wellness food. We are gradually making the switch with dry food and are going to try to phase out wet food by the weekend.

As for the cat prozac, it is the administration of cat meds that makes Grey super anxious. He does not like the taste of the pill pockets, so they need to be forced down his throat. Needless to say, he hides under the sofa for the rest of the day. Of course, if he were on Prozac, perhaps his being given the meds would not affect him the same way.
posted by lolalivia at 7:31 AM on September 28, 2009

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