My cat Chrestomanci’s gluttony has continued to the point that it warrants another post. When I was trying to find ideas for how to address his overeating problems I scoured the internet for suggestions, but I didn’t find much advice. Thus I wanted to share my own experiences to help others in a similar situation.
After observing the cats’ gluttony during the holidays, Jon and I performed an experiment. We’ve long suspected that Chrestomanci was eating some of Cole’s food. Usually we keep their bowls in the laundry room, which they can access via a cat door, so their food is safe from the dog.
One night we fed the cats but put their bowls in the middle of the living room. Jon kept Chihiro with him on the sofa so she couldn’t interfere. Our hunch was proven correct.
Cole soon ate his fill and wandered off, leaving at least half of his food still in the bowl. As soon as Chrestomanci finished his share he immediately moved onto Cole’s. He did so with a practiced ease, suggesting that this was far from the first time he has mooched off Cole.
At first I had no idea what to do about the situation. We keep track of the pets’ weights, and Cole’s has been staying in the correct region. But Chrestomanci still needs to lose more weight. He dropped a few from his initial whopping 15 pounds, but in the fall he hit a plateau and hadn’t dropped below 12 pounds for months.
How could I possibly keep him from overeating? Most of the advice I found didn’t help; the most common tip was to feed the cats in two separate rooms. That would work if Cole, like Chrestomanci, ate all of his food in one go. But he doesn’t, so how could I leave his food somewhere he could get to it when he wanted to eat the rest, but keep Chrestomanci from it? I’d have to keep them in separate rooms for hours a day, as long as it would take Cole to finish his meal.
More far-fetched suggestions recommended placing Cole’s food somewhere only he could access it, like putting it in a tight spot into which only he could fit. That sounded like a recipe for disaster, so I left it. There are a few high bookshelves Cole likes to hang out on that Chrestomanci can’t really be bothered with, but if I put food there I think that would motivate Chresti to explore more.
However, my reading did help me think of an idea. The most expedient solution seemed to be finding a way to force Cole to eat all of his food at once. So I started feeding them twice a day, cutting in half the serving they received once a day. This way Cole is hungry enough to eat the lesser amount of food that is there, so Chresti doesn’t get it.
We’ve only been conducting this experiment for a month, but it seems a tentative success. Sometimes Cole gets distracted while eating and leaves, letting Chresti have his remaining food. But it’s not nearly as much as before. The best news is that after starting the twice-a-day feedings Chresti has lost weight for the first time in months. He’s still in the double-digits, but it’s an encouraging start.
Chresti’s due for a vet visit next month and I plan on bringing this issue up with his doctor, in case she has any suggestions on how to handle the situation.