Food-obsessed kitty + early mornings = cranky humans
April 5, 2016 11:22 AM   Subscribe

So, I have basically been composing this question for about 2 months in my head...and this morning's events pretty much made me realize that I NEED to get this question out to you all! I hope you can give some advice about how to best handle some behaviors of our 2.5 year old rescue kitty!

We adopted Tazzy mid-February (sorry, no pic, but she is a dilute calico, very similar to this one). She really is such a love bug, a cuddler, sweetheart to no end in the light of day.

Background: Apparently she was in a shelter (not sure for how long) and then put in a foster home (a local animal rescue org that does not have a facility, but its members foster the pets in their own homes) - this is where we got Taz. She was in a room with 3 other cats who she appeared to really get along well with. The place seemed to be clean and well-kept. In the room where the cats were staying, there was a bowl of dry food out, so the cats could eat whenever. They gave a health report stating that she was up to date with all the usual shots, etc. and that she basically has a clean bill of health.

We brought her home and from minute one, she has been eating as if she is seriously STARVING. I am feeding her 1.5 cans/day (Wellness CORE and Whole Earth brands). I do not plan on adding dry food to her diet. We'll feed her, and then she'll literally scream at us for more. I work from home a lot during the week, so I can give her several small meals a day, which I have been doing. Any time either one of us even gets up from the couch, she makes a run for the kitchen, meows/screams at us - I mean, incessantly. She gets under our feet, we've accidentally stepped on her a few times. Regardless of what I'm preparing, she acts pretty bonkers. Most times, I will let her smell the food I am preparing for myself because I know she will likely be turned off by it (which is true). But she keeps on and it's driving us crazy to where we dread going into the kitchen...

And so this ties into the second issue: anywhere from 4:00 - 5:30 a.m., she jumps on our bed and does a combination of very annoying behaviors: meowing, pacing around on the bed, pulling at the blankets, attacking hands/feet. Sometimes she will meow a bit, sleep a bit, then start meowing. So what has started happening (cringe to admit) just to get her out of our hair, I'll get up, go downstairs and give her a little bit of food. Yes, I know, she has trained ME... :(. Well, that usually settles her down for a few hours, but most times, I can't get back to bed and now we have both been woke up from much needed sleep and we are NOT morning people. It will sometimes take me an hour to get back to sleep and then it's pretty hard for me to get up at a normal waking hour. (Thankfully, we both have somewhat flexible work schedules...)

Particularly this week, BF needs some quality sleep due to a lot of work going on, things due, and earlier mornings/late nights as it is.

Needless to say, we are both getting very cranky, waking up pissed off (ugh, who wants that).

What we've tried:

-- Like I said above, going downstairs to give her some food, but please tell me this is not the new normal for us. I know it kind of is since I've given in to her, but how do I break this, like, yesterday!?

-- Ignoring her, disengaging when she gets bitey.

-- Loud claps, "NO!" - but she comes back more incessantly.

-- Squirt bottle - has worked a couple of times, maybe we'll just have to keep this up. But by the time we resort to this, we're awake. and cranky.

-- Shutting the door - meows and screams, pawing/scratching the door.

-- Giving her a chunk of food right before our bedtime (feeding her as late at night as possible) - doesn't make a difference.

-- We play with her a LOT, make her run around chasing toys. She has a lot of toys, a perch by a window, her fuzzy doughnut that she sleeps in by a window with trees, i.e. lots of viewing pleasure.

So any ideas about why our cat is acting so obsessed about food (in addition to the "cats are weird" catchall!) Have you had a cat grow out of these types of behaviors? I am sure the free access to the dry food at the foster home helped to create this habit. I do plan to take her to a vet for our own peace of mind as well, regardless of the clean bill of health from the foster.

Please share any good training tips and other advice, it is much appreciated!
posted by foxhat10 to Pets & Animals (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is one of those things where I feel you can only change your reaction. Cats are gonna cat.

My two suggestions:

1) Not let the cat in the bedroom and run a fan/white noise machine to block out the inevitable mutiny in the hall/beating on the door.

2) Get this and set it to open up at 4am to give some food to tide her over until you get up to give her more.

I'd even consider giving her all her meals via that dish so she stops association you with food. It will take some time but she will get more on a schedule of knowing the *dish itself* feeds her at certain times. It may not cut down on the yelling, but might get her to pester you a bit less.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 11:36 AM on April 5, 2016 [14 favorites]

I don't have any advice about the food-obsessed part, but the way I got my cats to stop waking me up in the morning was by refusing to feed them until night. Maybe in your case, at noon would be better. The adjustment was a little difficult but only lasted a couple weeks. You're right, she's trained you to feed her when she wants you to get up; that's the behavior you have to avoid. If she wakes you up and you can't go back to sleep, don't feed her until you normally would in the morning.

I imagine that you're feeding according to the guide on your cans, but is it possible that another animal is eating her food when you're not around, and that's why she's hungry? I didn't think from your question that you had other pets, but I thought I'd offer that thought. I'd also ask your vet to weigh in on whether that amount of food is appropriate; I think that pet food companies generally overestimate how much to feed, but a vet would know.

Also, if you want to lock her out at night, I find that a fan/source of white noise really helps; if you turn it up high enough then they have to do some serious screaming to be heard.
posted by possibilityleft at 11:36 AM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Cats are assholes. I would recommend a combination of timed feeder (so she stops associating you with food) and SssCat outside the bedroom door. We don't even turn ours on anymore; the sight of it alone is enough to instill fear in our cats' tiny, evil hearts.

(I love my cats. They're still assholes.)
posted by baby beluga at 11:38 AM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Honestly, if she's an only cat, I'd leave some dry food out overnight, maybe in an automatic feeder that opens up at 4AM. I'm not the biggest fan of dry food, but it sounds like she's got some food security issues, she's bored and she's hungry. She'll start settling down in a couple of years and you can start cutting back on it, but in the mean time it may save your sanity. If you can't bring yourself to do that, then make sure that the meal before bedtime is a big one...

Actually - what do you mean by 1.5 cans? There are 12 oz cans, 5.5oz cans and 3oz cans. 1.5 3oz cans sounds about right, but maybe still a little thin for a 2.5 year old cat who you play with a lot.

Also - how often do you feed? And how late is as late as possible?

I'm not saying I've got this problem solved myself, but after a few bad weeks in the spring it's back to manageable.
posted by wotsac at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

Okay, so firstly, she is still getting used to you and her new home. It takes my cats ages (as in months), to get used to a new routine. You just need to be patient with this. She is in early, early days of adjusting to her new life.

Question: Why are you giving her several, small meals? Are you saying that if she has food out, that she still wants you to add more? Or is she eating her small meal and then wants more? What size of Wellness can and how heavy is she?
posted by nanook at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2016

You want to break the association between "wake up or otherwise terrorize humans" and "get food."

A timed feeder will do this. I use the CatMate C20, my cat is an idiot and does not know/cannot figure out how to force it open. I highly recommend this. I do not feed her on demand. the feeder feeds her. If the feeder is empty, the food is gone.

In the beginning you might want to feed the cat 4x/day from the feeder. I did this for a long time - 6am (whatever the cat witching hour is in your house); 12n; 6pm; 10pm. Over time I cut that down to 6am and 6pm. Now she gets food at 6am and can eat on it all day.

No amount of SssssCat or hollering or whatever will make this stop if she knows that you=food eventually. No amount of negative reinforcement before the positive reinforcement of food will break the you=food association. The feeder needs to become the food God.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:43 AM on April 5, 2016 [9 favorites]

Would you consider free-feeding dry food for just a couple weeks, in addition to regular meals? When we first adopted our cat, he had a very similar attitude around food, because he thought each meal would be his last. Leaving dry food out for a little while helped teach him that he wasn't going to starve. As she calms down, slowly taper off the dry feeding.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:47 AM on April 5, 2016 [13 favorites]

There's some really high-quality dry food out there, but if you're totally against it I'd second CHNW's suggestion of a timed wet food feeder. A timed feeder totally solved this problem with my cat, and it didn't take long. Just set it right before kitty's usual wake-up-the-humans time.
posted by Huck500 at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and never ever ever respond in any way to your cat's annoying behavior unless you want it to happen FOREVER.
posted by Huck500 at 11:52 AM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Great info so far, guys, thanks!

To answer a couple of questions - yes, I am referring to the guide on the food can about the amount to give her (I'll double check). In fact, I have added more since she seemed like she was so hungry all the time.

She is the only pet we have.

I have been giving her several small meals because I was thinking that would help keep her sated throughout the day. I was hoping to get her on demand, like two meals a day, and I was thinking that if she had wolfed down her first meal of the day, she'd go really crazy waiting for her second meal. I've thought about trying the two meal/day approach, just to see if that would keep her full enough through the day... but also, I do like several of the ideas presented so far, even the dry food with a timer - if just for a short while... hmmm.. lots of options!
posted by foxhat10 at 12:02 PM on April 5, 2016

We've had cats for nearly 20 years now and the only truely insatiable appetites have been thyroid-related and have been associated with a noticeable drop in physical condition. Anything else sounds like a behavioural / anxiety issue.

We currently have two and a half cats (two strapping lads and a cranky old lady). They are shut in other rooms at night (TSL in a bedroom and COL in the kitchen) with litter trays and water. They don't make a sound once we shut the doors on them - or more importantly we don't hear them if they do. In the morning, the most active boy might meow to go outside but it's very muffled. Foodwise, they get sachets of wet food on a schedule through the day - one first thing, one when we get home after work and one late on just before lights out. If biscuits are available, they are left out in a bowl alongside the wet food. So, definitely have a think about some biscuits during the day. On preview, I would also not stick too rigidly to the guide on the can - they're pretty standard guidelines and Taz is Taz. I have read that unlike dogs, cats won't gorge themselves if there is too much food available - not too sure about that but ours will walk away when they've had enough.

COL is hyperthyroid so demands feeding and I know just how annoying that is. One of the TSL came from a multicat household, we believe, and has always been anxious about food, so again I get you about the screaming "Feed me, Seymour!" bit as well. He is a wee bit young for thyroid issues, as is your Taz, but as he'd lost a little weight when we got their boosters a few weeks ago, the vet said to bring him back around now, get him weighed again and if he'd still lost or not put back on, she would test his B12 and folate levels on a fasting blood test (the irony). So it might be worth asking about that when you speak to the vet.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:18 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dry food all the time. For some reason its a comfort/reassurance thing. Then there's this:
posted by PJMoore at 12:19 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm adding to the "timed feeder ftw" chorus. My fur-dude is very, very intense about his morning feedings but now he stalks the Food Robot instead of yelling at us, and by the time my alarm goes off he's eaten and is more in a mood to cuddle.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:19 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing the automatic feeder. My cat is fat and fed regularly, but at 2am he decides he's never eaten in his life and he's going to die unless he's fed. He hasn't woken me up since I got the feeder.
posted by anotheraccount at 12:26 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Know that if you stop feeding her at stupid o'clock cold turkey, her behaviour *will* get worse before it gets better. This is known as an extinction burst.

You still need to be 100% consistent that you will not feed her at stupid o'clock.

If it were me I'd lock her out of the room entirely, honestly. Or leave her somewhere far enough away where she can't be heard. If that's not possible, I'd try the vacuum cleaner trick - run the cord under your door and plug it in briefly to scare her when she gets too loud. It might seem a little mean, but a little startle isn't going to hurt her and cats are conditioned better by getting a bit of a scare than they are by being annoyed by a spray bottle.
posted by one of these days at 12:29 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Our food obsessed cats calm down when we put dry food in their Catch feeder.

Eartha Kitty will scream at us until there's kibble in the Catch. It's an enrichment thing. You have to give kitties things to do or else they'll view you as their source of entertainment.

I also think you're fighting an uphill battle on free-feeding. If your cat was free-fed at any point in her lift...she's a free fed cat and that's that.

When Malcolm and Eartha were a year old, we tried to move them to twice per day wet food feedings. We gave it up when we found Eartha in the kitchen with the dry food dispenser on her head. They're slightly overweight, the vet says it's fine.

Another fun thing is the Friskies Pull and Play.

If your kitty is social, perhaps a cat-friend might take the pressure off of you to provide entertainment for her.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:32 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was coming in to say literally exactly what possibilityleft was going to say. Because I was having the exact specific same problem with Zach at first (he was waking me up at unholy hours in the morning) and seriously, switching to evening feedings changed that. I mean, he was still a little whiny shit for two hours before I fed him, but at least the two hours during which was a little whiny shit were not two hours during which I was trying to sleep.

And yeah, stick to the feeding amount on the can. Keep an eye on him for a while to see if he's looking underweight, and maybe talk to your vet during a regular checkup, but if you stick to the instructions and he still looks healthy, then all that's happening is that he's like a four-year-old who really wants candy. And just like the parents of four-year-olds frequently tell them "no" when they demand candy, you are within your rights to deny your cat the extra food.

Some cats just really like eating. We're the ones with the opposable thumbs, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I dug back through my question history to find where someone recommended to me a great calculator to make sure your cat is getting enough food.

At least this way you can tell if you are supplying enough (usually for my cat who is small, one 5.5 oz can is what she needs a day).
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:33 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

So she sounds young for this, but I'm going to second what Martha My Dear Prudence mentioned, but slightly different-- get her thyroid checked. The "bitey" part sounds a lot like when my boy hit twelve, and I changed his diet, and I thought the weight loss was because of better food, but he was hungry and (insanely) overly energetic because his thyroid had turned traitorous. I didn't clue in for far too long.
posted by instead of three wishes at 12:58 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

We are in the process of foster failing with Hercule Purrrr-ot, who is deeply, deeply insecure about food. His frantic panicking about being hungry is incredibly sad to see. He's missing most his upper front teeth between the big incisors, and we suspect it's because he tried to eat some hard things that weren't food.

Regardless of a generous feeding schedule that ensures he never goes more than seven hours between feedings, even overnight, he will wake us up at the crack of dawn with the same tactics yours employs--head dancing, hair grooming, yelling--unless we also put down 1/4 cup of dry food overnight. Knowing he's got access to it while we sleep seems to calm his kitty anxiety a little. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it's much better than the alternative. We remove it in the morning.

Cats are crepuscular creatures by nature, generally being most active at sunrise and sunset. He's programmed to want to be up and about eating and hunting when the birds start chirping and the sky starts to lighten. I will freely admit I'm a crazy cat lady who wants nothing more than to make my kitty happy, but punishing cats for their natural behaviors seems both counterproductive and kind of mean. We don't love kibble, either, but having it available overnight lets him be his basic kitty self and lets us sleep like happy humans.
posted by jesourie at 1:03 PM on April 5, 2016 [8 favorites]

I'd like second the idea of "once a free fed cat, always a free fed cat."

I would definitely consider feeding the cat more and using an automated feeder. We had a cat who would always want more food and get underfoot in the kitchen until he'd lived with us for a few years and seemed to feel more secure--after that he would only make a fuss when one of us was eating something he wanted in particular, like a peanut butter sandwich.
posted by purple_bird at 1:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't assume that she got along with the other cats well enough to be allowed access to the food bowl without being harassed.

My guess is that she's not ravenous; she's stressed out about the availability of food. You are making that worse by giving her tiny amounts. Cats don't eat that way; they hunt at night, then eat their entire catch and then sleep. Poor thing never gets a bellyful. She's stressed out about the availability of food.

In your situation, I'd free feed dry. I'm not sure what your misgivings are with dry, but your kitty is stressed enough to consider it as an option.
posted by 26.2 at 1:27 PM on April 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

I used to have a cat who turned up as a starving stray, and he never got over this kind of food insecurity. It was really important that he had some food in his bowl all of the time. I agree with people above about leaving her some dry food--whatever your concern about it is (and I know dry food isn't great, but there is some decent quality stuff out there, especially if she is getting wet food as well), it seems to me that it's trumped by the degree of the anxiety and stress this is causing her.
posted by tiger tiger at 1:31 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

We had a ravenous (dieting) cat for a while. We decided to dissociate feeding from ourselves. It worked very well!

We set up an alarm to go off twice per day (an iPhone with its harp sound, mounted on a clock radio with an iPhone charging/connection station - very distinctive sound, easy to customize), and played that a couple of times when we were about to feed her anyway. Then, we didn't feed her without playing the alarm sound first. Eventually, when she got hungry, she'd go stare at the clock until it went off -- then we had to feed her or she'd go crazy.

If you do this, Be Sure to turn it _off_ if you have to leave her with a cat sitter, or even out of the house when the alarm is due to go off; otherwise, the alarm will go off, there will be no food produced, and the poor kitty will just be beside herself with anxiety; who knows what she'll do. Also, it will weaken the conditioning you've worked hard to produce.

(Maybe use your own phone, with a charging station, for the alarm -- then you'll probably have it with you if you're traveling.)

Bonus: you will now have a sure-fire way to get the cat to come to you.

Bonus you already have: this cat would be super easy to train using clicker training or other positive reinforcement.
posted by amtho at 1:36 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

You are all making excellent points, especially that she probably just isn't get a good bellyful to begin with.

Regarding dry food, I had read some articles about never, ever, ever, ever feeding a cat dry food, even high quality stuff. But I will give that a second chance, especially if it eases Taz's possible insecurities or anxieties.
posted by foxhat10 at 1:39 PM on April 5, 2016

I feel your pain.
My baby Crocket is an absolute a-hole. Obviously a loveable one, but still.

He is SO food driven it's unbelievable. He jumps off the bed at 4am every morning without fail meowing and going nuts for food. That doesn't work, so he literally stands at our closet door, puts his paw under the door and pushes and pulls the door back and forth until we get up.

If that doesn't work, he goes over to our bathroom door and scratches his paws up and down that until we get up.

We tried many things. He was afraid of the squirt bottle at first, until he figured out it was just water.

Find our what your cat hates. Crocket HATES the air canister. He hates that "hiss" sound and runs a mile when it is sprayed. See if that works.

We have also tried turning on the vacuum every time he meowed for food in the morning, but honestly, it was hard to keep that up.

Now, we have him on the bed and lock him away in the laundry room when he is meowing for food in the morning. It's awful that we have to get out of bed to put him away, but trust me, I just couldn't deal with the noise... it was so bad even ear plugs wouldn't help!
posted by JenThePro at 1:49 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have the same problem with our Naya, who is just over two years old. We adopted her from the ASPCA. When she was brought there by someone who found her on the street, she had a dislocated hip and had to have an operation - a femoral head osteotomy. Because of that operation, it is important that she never get overweight.

For that reason, we can never leave out dry food for her to free-feed, or she would get overweight quickly. (Well, we could leave a small amount, but she would eat it in seconds and ask for more all the rest of the day!)

We tried to feed her at 6 AM and 6 PM, but her constant (loud) begging for food succeeded in getting us to feed her earlier and earlier, and sometimes more frequently (three times a day instead of twice). The situation just got worse and worse, and she was always bugging us to be fed. It was exhausting and stressful for all of us -- Naya included!

So just a few days ago, we made the executive decision that she was eating at 6 AM and 6 PM, and that we would be super strict about that, no matter how much noise she made. We would try to distract her with petting and playing, and sometimes we just ignored her. It was very hard at first -- any parent who has Ferberized a baby will know what it's like.

BUT, she is getting better and better with each passing day, and we are guardedly hopeful that she will come to completely accept the new routine. I do think it will work, as long as we humans do our part and stick to this rigid schedule.

I actually think this is good for her. She has calmed down a lot. As other people here have mentioned about their cats, she has a lot of anxiety about being fed. I think when we fed her erratically, that actually made her more anxious. It was like she thought that unless she constantly reminded us, we might just forget to feed her! But now, she's learning that she will always be fed twice a day at the same time, and that seems to be actually allaying her anxiety.

So it's not easy, and certainly won't solve the problem yesterday, but I think if you can try it for even a week, you might be pleasantly surprised how well your cat adapts.
posted by merejane at 4:26 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Only dry food isn't a great idea, especially for male cats (because crystals and blockage), but the *never ever* dry food thing is a little extreme. The biggest difference with dry food is the moisture content-- you can get grain free dry food too, although I have my suspicions about how much better it actually is. Anyhow.

My big guy, who just died (not because of dry food), had to get wet food regularly because of his FLUTD. He *hated* wet food and loved his dry food. I had to mix the two to get him to eat the wet food. I panicked about this because Internet hate for dry food. My vet reassured me that cats do just fine on dry food too. So he got both.

In the end, he died from oral cancer which has-- you guessed it-- canned food feeding as a major risk factor. Which is only to say I wouldn't stress too much about the religious wars of dry vs. wet food for cats.

I would definitely get your cat checked. Thyroid issues can cause bad food behaviour. So can teeth or gum problems. The cats associate eating with feeling better. Does she chew other things when she can't get food? Otherwise, you've gotten some fine advice here on the behavioural side.
posted by frumiousb at 4:44 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm only going to write this because I don't think anyone else has mentioned it (I only skimmed, but whatever... it was my first instinct to think it, so I'm surprised that no one else has).

Are you completely certain that she doesn't have worms? Maybe kitty is not getting any of the nutritious food, and it's all going to some parasite...
posted by itsflyable at 8:11 PM on April 5, 2016

Morning harassment: Something that worked for me with the breakfast problem was starting to use my alarm clock more consistently and only feeding her when the alarm went off. She figured it out pretty fast and then only bugged me when the alarm went off. This kind of gets screwed up around daylight savings because her internal clock doesn't change :) This is another variant on the idea of not letting her think maowing will work. That's the only reason she's doing it.

In the evening when she knows treats are possible and starts maowing for them, 2 things: First I try to give her the treats when I notice she's sitting quietly and not after she's been maowing. Then I put the treats in this little mousey toy that she has to work to get the treats out of.
posted by bleep at 8:27 PM on April 5, 2016

Only dry food isn't a great idea, especially for male cats (because crystals and blockage), but the *never ever* dry food thing is a little extreme. The biggest difference with dry food is the moisture content-- you can get grain free dry food too, although I have my suspicions about how much better it actually is. Anyhow.

Yes, I was going to add to my post yesterday that anecdotally speaking, my family has fed cats on a mix of dry and wet food for decades and the cats tend to live to be 15-20 years old or more in decent health. Going to the internet (in general, as opposed to the supreme wisdom of mefites) for pet advice is no different from getting health or parenting advice there--in other words, people tend to be extreme. I'm not saying don't try other solutions mentioned above (especially feeding twice a day at the same time and feeding her enough!), but if the only reason you're resisting dry food is because of stuff you read online, that stuff is a bit misleading. I don't mean to sound like some dry food evangelist here or something because I'm not, but if 2 regular feeding times daily of adequate amounts don't settle her down, my next move would be leaving out dry food.

Speaking of adequate amounts, I also wanted to mention that pet food companies aren't really reliable arbiters of what the right amount to feed your kitty is. Those amounts written on cans and boxes can vary between brands and at different energy levels, cats need different amounts of food. You may need to experiment to find out how much is right for her. Not all house cats will overeat even if free fed.

All of this, of course, should be balanced by the knowledge that cats are adorable little scammers and WILL take advantage of a situation given half the chance. But there's a difference in being a brat and experiencing genuine anxiety/stress over a perceived food scarcity situation due to earlier trauma.
posted by tiger tiger at 12:00 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

We inherited my dad's cats after he died. They are 15 and 11 now and were free-fed dry terrible kibble the entire time they were in my dad's care. When we took them to the vet after moving them to our city, the vet was all like HEY NO DRY FOOD DO WET 2x A DAY, so we did, and it did not work for them. Our girl cat didn't really like the wet food and the boy cat was like WHERE IS THE FOOD and would eat his wet food, her wet food, and still go completely apeshit about no dry food being available. In his walnut-sized brain, wet food was just a treat, but dry food in a bowl all the time was what meant FOOD to him.

Our solution was to use really really really good dry food (Nature's Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein) and get them a Drinkwell Platinum water fountain. The vet that wanted us to switch them to wet food said it was because they should get most of their water from food, but... since they've had the fancy-ass fountain and the really good quality dry food, their coats are nicer, the fat one lost a little weight, and the super-skinny one gained a little weight. Neither of them are waking us up at terrible hours anymore, either.

TL;DR: I think extremely high-quality dry food and maybe an automatic water fountain are your solutions here.
posted by bedhead at 7:19 PM on April 7, 2016

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