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New Kitten Stealing Resident Cat's Food

Discussion in 'Cat Nutrition' started by bakvskg, May 22, 2019.

  1. bakvskg

    bakvskg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    9
    8
    May 22, 2019
    Hi All,

    I am new to this forum and was hoping to get a little advice on a few feeding issues I am encountering after the adoption of a second kitten.

    Some background: Resident Cat (Artemis) is about a year old and recently transitioned to adult cat food. She is a fairly picky eater and if she had it her way would eat dry food all the time- she goes nuts for the stuff. I try to feed her mostly wet food- twice a day. She is also a grazer and only eats a little at a time. New Kitten (Gaston) is feisty and eats kitten food. He has only been fully out in the house 24-hours a day for a week now and he has recently declared himself to be a voracious eater (after a bout of URI that required syringe feedings and SQ fluids).

    At first I was feeding them their separate foods and it was no problem. Resident Cat turns her nose up at most wet food and his kitten food was no exception. New Kitten gets plenty of food left out for him so her bland adult food was of no interest. I bought a Microchip feeder (SureFeed) with the intention of using it for feeding New Kitten some dry food, (I know if I leave any dry food out, Resident Cat will devour it).

    However before it even arrived, New Kitten has began hijacking Resident Cat's food!! He will eat half of his wet food in the morning, and immediately run over to her food and begin devouring it. I immediately set up the SureFeed for Resident Cat instead, thinking that since she is the grazer she may benefit from it more. Unfortunately the SureFeed is no match for New Kitten!!! Any time he hears the sound of the lid opening up, he runs in and sticks in his head. Then he runs up from the side and sticks in his foot to prevent the lid from closing! I have put up barricades to allow passage for only one cat at a time but that still doesn't stop him. Now every time Resident Cat walks over to eat, she is essentially bullied away from her feeder (she doesn't put up much of a fight). I even saw her nibbling on some of New Kitten's wet food....out of desperation maybe?? She would normally NOT be interested in this type of food. (Of note, when she did this, New Kitten immediately ran over and began eating his own food...)

    Can anyone offer any advice? This is all still relatively new, so maybe they are just working out their power dynamics? Why does the new kitten insist on eating whatever the resident cat is eating, is this a case of little sibling syndrome? Is new kitten associating HIS food with diarrhea (he recently finished a course of antibiotics) and looking for different foods to try? OR am I simply doomed to having to create a safe enclosure for Resident Cat to eat in peace an quiet? Any advice is much appreciated!!
     

  2. mrsgreenjeens

    mrsgreenjeens Every Life Should Have Nine Cats Staff Member Advisor

    12,566
    2,518
    Aug 13, 2009
    Arizona
    How old is the kitten? What is his history? Was he a starved stray or anything like that? Usually that type of history can create an eating "monster".

    Anyhoo, if Gaston is still fairly little, he probably cannot jump very high yet, so for the moment, you can put Artemis's food up high, say on a counter or on top of a cat tree, and she should be able to eat to her little furry heart's content up there without being disturbed. that will give you some time to train Gaston to eat out of his own dish only. As he grows you may need to set up specific mealtimes for them both if you cannot break him of his bad habit. Grazers can also be trained to eat a specific meal times, I trained all mine (four at the time, and some were seniors) to go from free feeding kibble only to timed meals of wet food only, so I know it can be done.
     
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  3. lisahe

    lisahe TCS Member Top Cat

    4,014
    2,371
    Mar 23, 2014
    Maine
    Same here to the bolded part! We feed our cats five times a day, in part because one cat is a horrible vulture and the other is a grazer. Timed feedings made the vulture eat slower and the grazer eat faster. It's worked out very well!

    Since mrsgreenjeens asked about Gaston's background, I'll add that our cats came to us very underfed, from some sort of relatively (minor) hoarding household or something, and the vulture has never gotten over her food insecurity. Timed feedings have helped tremendously, though!

    If you have photos of your cats, @bakvskg, that would be great! (I'd love to see one of Gaston busting into the feeder! ;))
     
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  4. bakvskg

    bakvskg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    9
    8
    May 22, 2019
    Thank you for all the input!

    I am not too familiar with Gaston's background, except that he was fostered along with his siblings, potentially by someone who was not to experienced with fostering, or who was not able to give them as much time and attention as a regular foster would. I adopted him about 4 weeks ago now, and he was only 10-12 weeks old back then (so he is now 14-16 weeks). He seemed very emaciated when I got him, and he initially would not eat or drink at all on his own. Shortly after adoption he developed a URI (or maybe it was already brewing), and began losing even more weight so I had to syringe feed him and give him subq fluids. This past week was the first week he really began to eat, drink, and behave like a normal kitten! I was definitely relieved that he was showing such an appetite! But then he turned into a little food thief. I do wonder if he just wasn't getting what he needed in foster care, and now will forever have food issues- but as far as I know he was not picked up off the street.

    I have considered placing Artemis's food up high but unfortunately there are almost no spots that are too high for Gaston to reach! He is such a spunky, active (and quick!) little kitten! He has quickly figured out how to get up on every counter and dresser that Artemis goes, and has even claimed the cat tree for his own. It took Artemis much longer to get the confidence to jump up that high when she was a kitten, but he is just a little acrobat.

    As far as timed feedings go for Artemis- to clarify, I don't have her free feeding currently. She gets two meals a day of wet food (sometimes dry, to change it up)- but I only dispense the one portion at a time. She has never really eaten a full portion in one sitting and normally eats a little and comes back to it. It usually takes her a few hours to finish the meal. If I were to try to transition her away from being a grazer, would I just remove the unfinished portion after a period of time until she learns that she only has a finite period of time to finish eating her food? What would that transition look like?

    Currently, I set down his meal, and then feed her, hoping he will be too distracted with his own food, but he still tries to run over to her. I am currently trying to see if I can find foods he maybe is more excited about to entice him to stay with his own. I have also tried to create physical barriers to the feeder so only one cat can fit in the area at one time, but unfortunately he is so little he can pretty much just slide right in under Artemis and stick his head in (pictures to come if I can capture it!)

    In the meantime here are some pics of the little rascals below. This is my first time uploading photos so hopefully it worked!


    Gaston.JPG GastonArtemis.JPG GastonArtemis2.JPG
     
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  5. mrsgreenjeens

    mrsgreenjeens Every Life Should Have Nine Cats Staff Member Advisor

    12,566
    2,518
    Aug 13, 2009
    Arizona
    OH, they are both simply precious!! :loveeyes::loveeyes::loveeyes:

    Here is an article that may help in transitioning to "timed" meals. You said you don't really free feed, but if you aren't pulling her bowl up after a certain amount of time, technically she is able to eat whenever she wants, (as long as there is some food left in her bowl), being able to graze is pretty close to the same thing. Hope this helps: Transitioning Free-fed Kibble Kitties To Timed Meals

    Gaston much really be an acrobat! My boys at 15 weeks couldn't even jump up on the bathroom counter even with a box right next to it! (maybe they were just slow?) But I do recall Tinky started swinging from the chandelier once he got is confidence built up! I lost about 10 years of my life at that point :lol:. He even jumpted off the 2nd floor bannister one time :eek2:
     
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  6. bakvskg

    bakvskg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    9
    8
    May 22, 2019
    D1B6E94C-E47A-4910-A1F4-40BD1A865C8F.jpeg Thank you @mrsgreenjeens! I will check out that article and hopefully get her away from the free feeding. Maybe Gaston will force her away from it himself by stealing it as she grazes. I’ve been standing guard by her when I initially put down her food, to give her some time to eat in peace, but after she walks away she’s on her own.

    Omg Timmy swinging from the chandelier!! This I would love to see. It’s incredible to me how fast Gaston has gained access to all the counters. Took Artemis months, so I figured I had time with him, but nope!

    @lisahe not exactly busting into the feeder, but desperately trying to!! Note the acrobatics up the wall since the barricades have limited the amount of space around the feeder :lol:
     
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  7. bakvskg

    bakvskg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    9
    8
    May 22, 2019
    I meant Tinky not Timmy!! (thanks autocorrect:doh2:)
     

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