Created 2 Finicky Monsters

lanerich

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Hi all, I'm looking for help on how to fix a problem I've created! I have two 5 year old males. One is a 14lbs ginger tabby, the other is a 10lbs grey and white tabby. Both are healthy weights. Both cats have had recent thorough workups to make sure there are no health issues.

We originally only had the ginger boy at first. My goal was to feed high quality canned foods and little to no dry food. He ate pretty much whatever we gave him without complaint and he isn't overly food motivated.

Then we got the second tabby. He spent pretty much the first year being miserable and hungry because we can't figure out what he wants. He is obsessed with eating. He is insanely picky and rejects most higher canned quality foods. He seems to stay super slim no matter how much he eats and he eats more than the larger cat.

After much trial and error, I'm now in a state where I am constantly rotating different types of canned food. He seems to prefer lower quality canned food like Friskies the best but he will also get tired of it after awhile. I think he likes pate textures the best but will also eat more broth based or shred type cans, though he seems to tire of those more quickly. He also likes most dry food. There is no rhyme or reason to what he may or may not eat and this goes in phases. He seems to just suddenly tire of things. Sometimes he will eat a particular type for months in a row and then refuse it. After not having it for a month he will happily eat it again. We may have 1 or 2 months where he eats most options without complaining and another 1 to 2 months where he hates everything.

To make matters worse, the ginger tabby has also started to get more picky because of all this rotation and variety.

I don't think the issue is the location of the food. They already get the meals in a shallow bowl/plate so it doesn't seem to be a whisker problem. They both eat from the same plates and take turns, they are good friends and there is no fighting or stress.

They are currently sharing 1-2 5oz. cans in the mornings and 1-2 5oz cans in the evenings between the 2 of them, plus some dry food.

I have tried two different methods with timing, first method is that I leave the plate with the first can of the meal down until it is mostly empty or they have just completely refused it, this may take several hours. I will open a 2nd can a few hours later if they show interest in eating more (may also be a 3oz can if getting closer to dinnertime). Second method is to put 2 different 5oz cans down at once and let them have both to pick from throughout the day. So they pretty much always have wet food sitting out.

The only thing I can think of at this point to regain my sanity is to drastically cut back on the types of food and really try to stick with only 1 or 2 brands. I'm not sure what to do when they reject the food though. I usually end up mixing in broth or dry food when they reject a can, otherwise they refuse to eat and start throwing up.

The other thing I am thinking is maybe instead of leaving the canned food down and letting them graze throughout the day, maybe I should really be enforcing strict meal times so they learn to eat it within an hour or else it will be gone? I'm not sure if that would help anything or not.

Any ideas please?
 

Furballsmom

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Sometimes he will eat a particular type for months in a row and then refuse it. After not having it for a month he will happily eat it again.
Hi!
This is similar, and normal, to what's happening in my house and in other cat households. I just go with it :) and always have wet food out, for up to a few hours, and use a rotating menu of brands, flavors and consistencies. The handy thing about using multiple brands et al is that when one manufacturer changes the recipe of a certain flavor, which they do frequently, you have others to fall back on.
How Long Can You Safely Keep Cat Food Out For? – TheCatSite Articles

You might consider starting to maintain a log of their weight - weigh them every couple weeks or so, which will help you keep on top of things.

18 Awesome Cat Feeding Tips By Thecatsite Staff Members – TheCatSite Articles

You could try timed meals, or auto feeders.
Transitioning Free-fed Kibble Kitties To Timed Meals – TheCatSite Articles
 

StanAndAlf

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Yes, I agree, I rotate between 4-5 brands, a different brand each day and a different protein or texture (shreds, pates etc). I wouldn't like eating spaghetti every day all the time, and they enjoy variety just the same.

You may also want to look into trying toppers, to entice them to eat different kinds of food.
 

mrsgreenjeens

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I have a very similar situation, except my larger cat tends towards pudgy, so I have to watch him carefully and feed them separately (in separate rooms) so he doesn't eat the smaller cat's food. My smaller male is only 9 lbs and is not food driven at all. Even when he was a kitten, so every single day, every single meal is torture for me, trying to get him to eat. Yet he gets a perfect bill of health.

I used to try giving him one wet food after another and finally decided enough was enough. I open a can in the morning and dish some out for him (the larger cat eats raw, so they don't share foods) and see what happens. If he doesn't eat, the only concession I make is to add some toppers. If that doesn't work, I will leave it out for maybe an hour and that's it. I remind him that "lunch will be served at 2:30" :lol: . At the next meal I usually serve up the exact same thing, just because the can is already open. I don't serve it cold though. I add warm filtered water to it. Sometimes he'll eat it, sometimes he won't. If not, same thing, I remind him "dinner will be at 10:30 p.m.. Hope you'll be hungry by then!". Again I will serve up the same thing if there is still some left (often almost the entire can is left). If I need to open a new can, I will open a different brand, flavor. Sometimes he'll eat that, sometimes not :sigh: I do try to rotate foods at least daily between just a few that he has deemed "ok". But I have tried everything from Friskies to Rawz and he doesn't like most of them. Really, he isn't crazy about anything he gets. Plus he doesn't know what kibble is, so that's not even an option (tried it once and he ran away) . If he hasn't eaten by dinnertime, and still refuses dinner, he gets Mirataz rubbed into his ear and then wakes me up in the middle of the night to eat. Talk about creating a monster! And, of course, I DO feed him in the middle of the night at that point, because he needs it.

I don't know why I am even telling you, other than to let you know you are not alone :alright: But definitely try toppers if you haven't already. If they have any special treats they like, try crushing or crumbling them and using that. What sometimes works for us is freeze dried chicken by Life Essentials. It crumbles nicely and they like it as treats as well.
 
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lanerich

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Thanks so much for the articles and feedback!

I have tried several different toppers, unfortunately the only ones they really like tend to be expensive (fancy feast broth pouches, wellness core pouches, fancy feast salmon filet, inaba tube treats). They also like the Trader Joes cat treats and I sometimes have success pressing those into the food. It can just be frustrating to end up with an additional $1+ cost for the topper on every can. I've tried some freeze dried things and purebites but they both don't like them and it usually make them throw up immediately, not sure why. I just tried the pulverized kibble again too without success.

I decided I am going to follow the advice in the timed meal article above. We used to have strict breakfast and dinner mealtimes and they did OK with it. Then it somehow devolved over the years into an on demand restaurant service. I think the biggest problem now is that they are getting food so randomly during the day that they aren't hungry at the dinner meal time and then they wake us up for something fresh during the night.

After mostly ignoring their timed breakfast, they are already roaming around wondering why there is no food bowl anymore..
 

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My picky kitty loves Wereva Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup. As its name implies, it is a brothy concoction with shredded chicken and some pumpkin. She also tolerates Fancy Feast Medleys. I did the multiple brands / flavors method until I hit on a couple that really worked. Now I stick with them. Good luck!
 

arr

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I am a big proponent of timed meals, no free feeding. If they know they can only eat at a certain time, they will realize they can’t afford to be picky.
 
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lanerich

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My picky kitty loves Wereva Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup. As its name implies, it is a brothy concoction with shredded chicken and some pumpkin. She also tolerates Fancy Feast Medleys. I did the multiple brands / flavors method until I hit on a couple that really worked. Now I stick with them. Good luck!
I so wish that I had a subset of foods that always worked consistently! The most consistent ones I have are Dave's turkey & chicken, Wellness turkey & chicken, Friskies pate flavors and Fancy Feast kitten varieties. But they will also refuse those sometimes so I still have to do a lot of rotation. They just get tired of them I guess. My picky tabby loves the fancy feast kitten usually but he's walked it away from it a few times. They also have Dr. Elsey Clean Protein kibble.

They used to love the Weruva chicken soup/paw lickin chicken but they are super over it now, I can only feed it once in a blue moon. I tried Fancy Feast naturals since they like the kitten pretty well and they hated it. I think I will try the regular FF pate and the medleys next.

I am a big proponent of timed meals, no free feeding. If they know they can only eat at a certain time, they will realize they can’t afford to be picky.
I think you are spot on! Yesterday we did about 7 timed meals throughout the day and night (I didn't sleep much), but I can already see a change that they are much more hungry at each meal and make more of an effort to eat. Hopefully I can get them back to 2-3 meals a day soon. At this point I'm just going to give them whatever canned food they will eat and try to limit the kibble again.
 
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lanerich

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Ok I’m back! Things are improving. Yesterday I only gave 5 or 6 timed meals. I did leave the last meal at 10pm down overnight. They didn’t wake me up until 6am and the last evening meal was completely gone.

This morning I did other things for a bit after they woke me and I fed them a few kibbles each and some catlax to calm them. Then they got one 5.5oz can of Friskies for breakfast at 6:30am. Normal breakfast time is 7am.

They both ate quite a bit this morning, enough that I was worried they may barf it back up. Luckily that didn’t happen. They ate about 3/4 of the can, it was pretty evenly shared between the 2 of them.

The larger orange tabby has been passed out in a food coma ever since, it’s 10am now. The smaller picky tabby has already asked for food again twice.

How much should a healthy 5 year old male 10lbs be eating in one sitting? If I’m calculating this right he ate about 2oz in the morning. How is he supposed to only get 2-3 meals a day if he only eats max 2oz at once? Should he be staying full until lunchtime at least? The bigger cat certainly is.
 

arr

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Ok I’m back! Things are improving. Yesterday I only gave 5 or 6 timed meals. I did leave the last meal at 10pm down overnight. They didn’t wake me up until 6am and the last evening meal was completely gone.

This morning I did other things for a bit after they woke me and I fed them a few kibbles each and some catlax to calm them. Then they got one 5.5oz can of Friskies for breakfast at 6:30am. Normal breakfast time is 7am.

They both ate quite a bit this morning, enough that I was worried they may barf it back up. Luckily that didn’t happen. They ate about 3/4 of the can, it was pretty evenly shared between the 2 of them.

The larger orange tabby has been passed out in a food coma ever since, it’s 10am now. The smaller picky tabby has already asked for food again twice.

How much should a healthy 5 year old male 10lbs be eating in one sitting? If I’m calculating this right he ate about 2oz in the morning. How is he supposed to only get 2-3 meals a day if he only eats max 2oz at once? Should he be staying full until lunchtime at least? The bigger cat certainly is.
If they are used to eating 5-7 times a day then they are used to eating less each time. As you gradually cut out meals, they will gradually eat more at each meal.For example, when we go out of town the pet sitter can only come twice a day so that’s the only time they eat. When we get back they want to eat a huge amount at once and then we have to adjust them back to 3 meals a day. And the 2 ounces doesn’t sound terribly far off to me. My 16 pound boy eats around 3 ounces 3 times a day. He has a tendency to weight gain so he would eat more if we let him but this amount keeps him in good condition.

Also, what I found very helpful was to calculate the number of calories per day that your cat needs to eat, then divide that number by however many meals you want to feed each day. A cat should have around 20-25 calories per pound of body weight per day. Figure out how many calories are in the food you are feeding by reading the labels. Do the math and it gives you a good starting point. Then you can adjust up or down over time depending on your particular cat‘s body condition and appetite.
 
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lanerich

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I have gone all in on this feeding project this past week. I've been handling every meal and really watching what they do. I was even weighing the plates and tracking how many ounces each cat ate for the first few days. Thanks for all of the help!

Here is what I found so far.

1) They both eat a lot less than I thought and I was throwing away a ton of food. According to the guidelines here, they should be eating about 480 calories per day between the two of them. I've broken this up into approx. 5.5-6oz (either one 5.5 oz can or two 3oz cans) of wet food morning and evening plus about 1/4 cup of dry food overnight in an automatic feeder (for sleep sanity).

2) We did a slow transition from constantly giving out new food to short timed meals. The first day they didn't understand this and were pretty hungry because they ignored the food when I set it out and didn't eat before I took it away even though I gave them food 7 times that day. After that, they realized they better eat something while it is there and they would at least eat a little bit before I removed it. I gave 6 meals the 2nd day, 5 meals the 3rd day, etc. Now we are down to 2 meals plus overnight dry food snack.

3) I do need to leave the food down for about 3-4 hours for them to really eat enough. Or maybe I need a much longer transition period but I don't have time for that! I found when I only left the wet food down for about an hour, they would eat but just not enough. This made it impossible to have less than 4 meals a day. I decided to leave the plate out for 3-4 hours (or less if they eat it all). The last couple of days they have mostly finished the plate within that timeframe.

4) I think they really were used to getting food on demand and this was enabling them to be picky and wasteful. We were trying to make sure they were never hungry and this was a mistake. I've seen a big reduction in pickiness this week and they are finishing the meal much more often. I'm only giving a few kibble pieces or couple of treats in between breakfast and dinner, only if they really act dramatic and I'm trying to allow them to get pretty hungry an hour or two before mealtime. I'm only adding a topper or offering a new can if they completely reject the meal.

I haven't been woken up at night in 2 days yay! Yesterday only my big orange tabby acted hungry between breakfast and dinner and he was happy with about 10 kibble pieces. Picky tabby was totally fine. There has been some barfing here and there but nothing too dramatic. I also give cat lax every day to help with the barfing. I think there was maybe some food insecurity or just plain boredom happening with my picky tabby. I found that sometimes when he jumped on the counter and acted hungry, I could pick him up and cuddle him a little bit and then he would be happy. Now we just have to keep this up and hopefully I can get my husband my to stick with it.. :biggrin:
 

arr

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Congratulations! It sounds like really good progress.
 

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I think we have all experienced finicky eaters as cat owners. Why would a cat make life easy?? :lol: I tried the food roulette idea and would keep buying different brands. I come upon one that they loved... until they didn't. I was wasting a lot of time and money trying to appease them. I happened upon a brand that offered a ton of variety and stuck with it since. They have their favorites and I rotate the "less favorites" every couple of months but Boone and Gracie have learned that "they get what they get so they better eat it." which they do and quickly mind you. I have 14 "flavors" on hand and they get fed one flavor per meal per day so they never eat the same flavor twice in a week. That seemed to be the trick. But still being cats, of course they picked a brand that was more expensive than most. :angrywoman:
 
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lanerich

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I think we have all experienced finicky eaters as cat owners. Why would a cat make life easy?? :lol: I tried the food roulette idea and would keep buying different brands. I come upon one that they loved... until they didn't. I was wasting a lot of time and money trying to appease them. I happened upon a brand that offered a ton of variety and stuck with it since. They have their favorites and I rotate the "less favorites" every couple of months but Boone and Gracie have learned that "they get what they get so they better eat it." which they do and quickly mind you. I have 14 "flavors" on hand and they get fed one flavor per meal per day so they never eat the same flavor twice in a week. That seemed to be the trick. But still being cats, of course they picked a brand that was more expensive than most. :angrywoman:
I admire this! It’s hard when they act like they are dying of hunger and we are trying to work from home. But we have to start being a little tougher I guess. Which brand do you feed?
 

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I admire this! It’s hard when they act like they are dying of hunger and we are trying to work from home. But we have to start being a little tougher I guess. Which brand do you feed?
I feed Weruva but Petco has a brand called Soulistic that is made by the same company but cheaper. Of course, my two weren't fans of the Soulistic brand. Jerks! :lol: Yes, tough love is sometimes necessary. It's always harder on us than them.
 
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lanerich

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Ohh ok mine hate Weruva. Actually they hate most higher quality foods. That’s part of how we got into the bad situation, I was always trying to give them a “good” food and they would not want it and then I would try another one etc. Now I’m just going to be happy if they eat all their Friskies or Fancy Feast and I have my sanity back.
 

klunick

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Ohh ok mine hate Weruva. Actually they hate most higher quality foods. That’s part of how we got into the bad situation, I was always trying to give them a “good” food and they would not want it and then I would try another one etc. Now I’m just going to be happy if they eat all their Friskies or Fancy Feast and I have my sanity back.
Feed what they'll eat.
 
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