28 November 2007

UPDATE: Automatic Cat Feeder

As I posted last week, we got an automatic cat feeder that will feed the cats three times per day. Our primary intent was to find a reliable way to feed them when we are traveling. However, we had decided to try it out and perhaps use it all the time.

Experiment Results: Somewhat of a failure

Here is the issue...

Max is a Picky Eater. I know, it amazes us as well. After all, this is the cat who has been taken to the vet on three occasions in order to remove a non-food item that became logged in him. And that doesn't include the number of times we have waited for him to purge the item through the front or back end.

But when it comes to his food, he is actually very picky.

See, the food must be "fresh." His definition of fresh is "has not been in the bowl for more than 5 minutes." And if we put the food back into the container and then re-serve it, he had better not see us do it.

Max is not adjusting to the concept of the automatic feeder. Unless the food is served by a human hand, generally after hours of begging even though there is still food in the dish and we are nowhere near feeding time, it is not "good food" and therefore should not be eaten.

Sure, he'll eat it if the only other option is to starve to death. However, when we are home and he has hope of hand-served food, he only eats enough to sustain life and no more.

Tilly, on the other hand, has adjusted quite well to the automatic feeder. Under normal feeding circumstances, she stands back and lets Max have first go. Then she swopes in and finishes off the rest.

Which under normal circumstances works just fine because Max will eat his meal in a couple of enormous bites and it is usually close to half of the food.

But when Max is just eating enough to sustain life while hoping for some hand-served fresh food, it leaves a fair amount for Tilly to finish off. And I am sorry to report that Tilly has always had a bit of a weight issue.

However, yesterday it became apparent that the Automatic Feeder Experiment needs to end for two reasons:

1. Max has become so frustrated by the lack of hand-served, fresh food that he is cranky. Which means he will suddenly attack us. Given the lack of claws, he doesn't do any damage. But it is rather startling behavior.

2. In the last week Tilly's stomach has become so engorged with the extra food that she waddles and looks as if she is ready to give birth to 12 or more kittens any minute. (Max, on the other hand, has lost enough weight that his hip bones are started to stick out a bit.)

So, the verdict is that we will still use the automatic feeder when we are traveling.

However, when we are home we will resume the normal three times per day hand-served "fresh food."

The only other alternative may be to take them both to a cat psychologist. Max for his anti-social behavior and Tilly for her overeating.

But that seems excessive.


The Big Finn said...

King demands 4-5 feedings per day. Plus, it's all canned food due to his lack of "teef". Over the years, we've worked out reciprocal agreements with friends where we take turns taking care of each others' pets when we are away. Of course, when we're away we don't expect our friends to come over 4-5 times per day for feedings; just 1-2 times per day.
King doesn't like it when we go away.

Global Librarian said...

So you are saying we have something to look forward to when Max gets old and even crankier?

Hmm. Anyone want a neurotic, cranky, finicky cat who is a picky eater but will still chew on everything he can find? Anyone?

By the way, Tilly may eat too much, but she has the sweetest and friendliest personality of any cat I have ever known. It's amazing they are litter mates!

Pointless Drivel said...

What is your alternate means of feeding them when you are out of town? Credit card and the number for Chinese Take-Out?

Global Librarian said...

We arrange for someone to come in to look after them. Usually it is our upstairs neighbor. If they are also away, it is a friend in the next town over.

But Max does better when feed at least a few times per day. And we don't feel right asking someone to come that often simply because of a persnickety cat!

Marcy said...

I have some friends who got an automatic feeder like that for their cat. They went away for the weekend and during those few days the cat figured out how to break the feeder so that all the food came out at once!

Their cat also has the opposite problem as yours-- he has panic attacks if he can even see the bottom of his food bowl. MUST HAVE FOOD AT ALL TIMES!!!