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Uncontrollable Begging For Meals

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by amiatcat, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. amiatcat

    amiatcat Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Nov 20, 2017
    I have two 8 year old cats, a white domestic shorthair and a medium-hair tabby. The white one is on a prescription diet (Science Hills), tabby is not (Weruva). Both get fed high protein wet food twice a day, morning and after work.

    My tabby was 16 lbs., but is now a healthy 13 lbs. due to his diet. He LOVES his food, and would eat more if he could. He gets about 6 oz and two tablespoons of dry per day, which my vet stated is enough calories to sustain an indoor lifestyle, which is what he has.

    Here is what I perceive as his “behavioral” problem: every morning around 6am, he meows constantly until he gets fed. He is relentless, enough so that I’m losing sleep. I try not to give in and feed him, because this reinforces his behavior and he gets rewarded with his morning meal (he is now ‘conditioned’). But, at some point, I have to feed him before leaving for work. And the same goes for when I get home, anytime after 3pm he begins begging all over again with that specific high pitched meow tone.

    My white cat does not exhibit this ‘conditioned’ behavior, and is not as aggressive as he is about food. I cannot just feed more than 2 times a day due to my work schedule, and the fact that he will regain the weight if he gets more daily calories than prescribed by my vet.

    What can I do to uncondition my tabby from this unwanted and extremely annoying behavior of begging for his food? After he gets fed, he is the sweetest cat, but before, he is the devil.

    Seeking advise!!!!
     

  2. ailish

    ailish TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 7, 2016
    I work and my cat needed to eat more than twice a day, it is a problem. I invested in an automatic feeder. Yes, you can only use dry food, but I set it on the lowest amount it will dispense and just divided the calories of the other meals accordingly. She actually eats four times a day, 6a, 4p, 9:30p and 2:30a (the dry feeding). It works for her. I get the best dry food I can and figure it is worth it if she is happier.

    Once I had the feeder and knew that at no time was my cat the starvingest cat ever, like she would tell me, I was able to hold the line on the begging. You just have to never give in. And the minute she stops you can feed her so she gets the point that not begging is the way to get food. Ailish will sit on her tree and stare me down in the morning while waiting for me to get up, but she knows begging NEVER works.
     
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  3. orange&white

    orange&white TCS Member Top Cat

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    My ginger tabby just lost from 16.5 to 13 pounds. He eats 3 meals a day now: a small meal before work, a small meal after work and a large meal before bed. He begged non-stop for a few months while I reduced his calories and figured out whether he was more satisfied with more small meals or fewer large meals.

    I stopped his begging by pretending that I didn't know he was begging for food. I put a feather-on-a-string toy on the kitchen counter and when he begged I either asked him if he wanted to play a while, or I would pick him up and tell him that I loved him too. Eventually, he figured that I'm just really stupid and he quit begging. He only meows now right at meal times when he sees that I am dishing up food for him and the other 2 cats. And that's ok.

    I also added non-flavored gelatin to his food, so he was getting 1/4 cup more water per day plus some extra protein with no fat and only a couple calories. That seemed to fill him up more and make him more satisfied. Extra water in your cat's wet food might help.
     
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  4. Lari

    Lari TCS Member Top Cat

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    Nov 18, 2017
    I'm not a cat expert, so I'm probably not the best person to give advice, but do you have any morning routines you could make the new food 'trigger'?

    I'm still free feeding (because she's still growing and monitors herself), and my wet food fiend gets her wet food in the early evening and before bed so that's not a morning issue, but I saw somewhere - maybe even here - not to feed right when you get up because they associate you waking up with food and will start waking you up.

    So every morning I have coffee and sit next to a sunlamp, and my cat knows that I refill her kibble when that's done, no matter if it's later, like on a weekend, or not. I know you feel like you're giving into his begging, but if you're consistent about what time in the morning (like after a shower) he might eventually start to associate food with that and stop waking you up?
     
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  5. rubysmama

    rubysmama Forum Helper Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Nov 25, 2013
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    When I first adopted my Ruby she was food obsessed. She'd eat everything all in one sitting until the dish was licked clean.

    She also would start waking me up for breakfast anywhere between 5:00 and 6:00. My radio was set to come on at 6:00. I would try to ignore her but she was pretty relentless. Finally, I got sleep deprived and started getting up as soon as she woke me and putting her out of the room, and telling her she had to "wait for the radio". I forget how long it took, a couple months maybe, but one morning instead of her waking me early, the radio came on and I heard her running down the hall to the bedroom, where she then leaped onto the bed. After that, except for maybe a day or two, she never bothers me until she hears the radio come on.

    So, if you can, I'd suggest putting him out of the room when he wakes you too early. And then feed him on your schedule.

    I've also read where people get up, shower or do some other routine, then feed the cats. That way they don't associate breakfast with the human getting out of bed.

    With your boy, has this habit just started since he's been on the lower calorie diet? If so, once his weight stabilizes, maybe he won't be so hungry.
     
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  6. LTS3

    LTS3 TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Are you feeding the 3 oz cans of Weruva or the 6 oz cans? Weruva is pretty low in calories so it's possible that your cat is simply not getting enough calories needed hence the begging for food. Here's a chart that lists the calories and other nutritional information: http://catinfo.org/docs/CatFoodProteinFatCarbPhosphorusChart.pdf Weruva also lists the same info on their web site: Weruva - People Food for Pets - Nutrition Information

    The general recommendation is 20 to 25 calories per pound of calories daily. If 13 lbs is your cat's healthy weight, then he should be eating roughly 260 to 325 calories daily to maintain the weight. Weight loss occurs with not getting enough daily calories. Many vets don't really know proper nutriton :dunno: I wouldn't say to ignore what your vet tells you but just use it a a guideline. You may need to tweak the calories for your cat to keep his tummy happy and keep his weight stable.

    Adding additional canned meals daily is possible with a programmable timed feeder such as this one.
     
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  7. ginny

    ginny TCS Member Top Cat

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    I've only been feeding wet food since Oreo was diagnosed with Diabetes in April, and have had the problem of all of them begging for more food. I thought they just missed their kibble and didn't feel full without it. Which probably was partially true. So recently I gave in and ordered a bag of Young Again Zero carb (LID Mature). It's got a high protein and fat content and also fiber. Honestly, this has satisfied them so far. They don't beg like before and I sure hope it continues. Honey used to be after me all the time for food but when she eats a few bits of this kibble she leave me alone. Poor kitties! I think they just needed more fat and fiber than they were getting with wet only, or at least it seems like it so far. They've been eating it for about 3 weeks now.
     
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  8. Elfilou

    Elfilou TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    LOL. Yup. That sounds like it would work. :lol: Bloody cats!
     
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  9. amiatcat

    amiatcat Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Nov 20, 2017
    Great idea, I’d love to try that and set it to 6am so he gets what he’ll needs without relying on me to get out of bed to provide it. I have two cats so this might be confusing if he gets dry food but she doesn’t, since he will consume her portion too if left unsupervised. Worth a shot, I’ll try anything at this point!
     
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  10. amiatcat

    amiatcat Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Nov 20, 2017
    Wow, you are right! He is not getting enough according to that chart, I’m only giving him half, which is why he is always begging. His weight has been steady at 13 lbs for over a year, so I figured he was getting the calories needed to maintain his weight. I can give him more at each feeding and see if this significantly effects his weight over time.

    Thank you!!
     
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  11. ailish

    ailish TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 7, 2016
    A reason I have learned to always keep an eye on calories. People in my family think I'm obsessive with calorie charts for the cat foods I use, but how else do you know what your cat is getting? My cat is 8 lbs. What would seem like a small number of calories to us is huge to a cat. I use probably 6 brands of cat food and multiple flavors within each. One brand she gets 1 oz per meal, a Weruva flavor she gets 2.5 oz, both with the same number of calories. Many of the TikiCats are low cal as well.
     
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  12. orange&white

    orange&white TCS Member Top Cat

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    If his weight has been steady at 13 pounds, I would not feed him more just because he would eat more. It was a real battle getting my cat from 16.5 to 13 pounds over a year. He ending up eating only 130kcals/day at one point because he got "stuck" at 15 pounds. He just isn't active enough and/or his metabolism isn't fast enough to eat food recommendations from any chart. If you want to feed him more in ounces per day, then I would find lower-calorie foods to keep the kcals consistent, like maybe the TikiCat that Ailish mentioned.
     
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  13. ailish

    ailish TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 7, 2016
    Of what I feed, TikiCat, Weruva and Ziwi Peak are the lower calorie foods. My cat gets a whopping 2.5 oz of Weruva Funk in the Trunk to equal a 40 calorie meal. Most foods she gets a little over an ounce. The first time I fed it I expected her to either not finish it or barf it up, but she did neither. Plus, she loves it. I save it for when her next meal might be a little late. I don't know if that makes a difference, but she tends to gack up bile if she goes too long between meals, so I do what I can.
     

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