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View Full Version : Cats, Cavalier, and Chowtime...HELP!!



Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 06:06 PM
I need some creative advice because I'm having a real challenge here!!! It's so darn complicated that I'm going to list the challenges and the situation in list form.

I have five cats and a baby Cavalier. Some of the cats are as large as Barkley will be when he is fully grown.
Try as I might to get the cats to eat on a schedule, they refuse...they've been free fed their entire lives. I've tried and tried and...well maybe I should try just one more time?
Two of the cats are very old seniors and two are 10-year-old siblings, all four were rescued at various times when they were all about 8 years old, bottom line is I can't imagine retraining them.
The breeder told me to feed Barkley twice a day, breakfast and dinner, he's eating on the 6:30's.
The oldest cat is unable to jump up onto a counter and even if he did, jumping down would do the poor old boy in. He's a diabetic and has weak legs.
Yes I could put a stairstep thing up to the food table for the cats, but then Barkley could simply walk up the stairs.
Because the cats refuse to eat on a schedule, I can't really put them in another room to feed them twice a day. I don't really have a room to do that in anyway except the cat litter box room and that just seems too yucky to feed them in there.
The cats LOVE LOVE LOVE Barkley's food and they won't leave him alone...they tower over him and they are very intimidating. I keep pushing them away gently but it's a lot of work. The moment Barkley steps away, the cats' heads are right into his dish.
Barkley won't eat unless I stand over him (another problem that I hope works out soon!) and that is even when the cats are otherwise occupied. Barkley follows me EVERYWHERE and I can't walk away to do anything while he's eating or he will stop eating (is this a Cav thing?)
Barkley loves the cats' food and he will eat that without my standing over him, LOL!!! I've tried a stern NO when he gets into it and he walks away. So far. I guess that as he grows older, he'll be more headstrong about it.
I've borrowed my partner's Giant Schnauzer crate and I've tried putting Barkley in that to eat, but he just cries and dances and carries on and won't eat. He made quite a big mess in there this morning. Meanwhile, the cats swarm around the crate and mock him. (The cats did help clean up the mess though, LOL!!!!!)
The cats could simply leap into an x-pen so that's not a solution.Other than getting the cats on the same twice a day feeding schedule...what on earth can I do about this?

Does anyone have experience getting old senior cats off free feeding and onto a twice a day feeding schedule?

Or am I doomed to watching pets eat and acting like a traffic cop for the rest of my life? :eek:

Charleen
7th October 2007, 07:24 PM
I can tell you what works for me. I have 2 cats and 4 dogs. The cats free feed and the dogs must have measured food twice per day.

1) The cat food is in a bowl in an area that the cats can access, but the dogs cannot. I have done this in 2 different houses. Look for a place the cats can jump up to and the dogs cannot reach.

Also, the dog will get into the kitty litter and eat the poop. Gross, but true. I have a covered litter box. In between the side wall & the dryer. Then the box opening pointed towards the wall. The cats jump on the box cover and then over to the hole. The dog cannot access. In my last house, I had the kitty litter in the basement. The dogs didn't go down there, because they were scared of the open-back stairs.

2) Feeding the dogs. Cavaliers cannot free-feed. They will overeat. Merry & Pippin are proof of that. My previous dogs of other breeds, never overate and I always had food down. Feed the dog, twice a day, measured amounts of food in a crate. That way the cats can't get at the dog food. If the dog doesn't eat. Then wait until the next meal and try again. The puppy will not starve itself and will eat. Just be consistent and keep at it.

Good Luck - You just need to find your new rhythm now that you have both cats and a puppy.

Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 07:43 PM
At least one of the cats can't jump (and another one really shouldn't). My house is a strange open plan setup and the only place I could feed the cats away from the dog is the cat litter box room but to me, that's like feeding your child in the bathroom so I can't do it.

I've had cockers and cats before so I know about kitty litter snax...EWWW!...there is a doggy door to the cat litter box room. Because one cat can't jump, there is a small cat door at the bottom of it. Right now, Barkley can still fit through that door, but so far so good, he doesn't leave my side and I hope he stays that way! When he is grown he will be too big to squeeze through that door.

I would never free-feed the dog, it's the cats that were free-fed for years...I've been trying to get them on a schedule but they are not cooperating. My oldest two (really old cats) are so darn set in their ways.

However, after posting my query, I decided to try again and their food is in the refrigerator until Barkley gets his dinner. Keeping fingers crossed that they will leave Barkley alone while he eats his regularly scheduled meal. I hope you can teach an old cat new tricks!

Jen
7th October 2007, 08:26 PM
You live in Florida, right? Feed the dog outside.

As for the cats, do you have an extra bedroom that you could leave the dishes on the bed? That would be an easy jump for an elderly cat, assuming it's just a standard low bed...if not, put a chair a low chair (folding chair or something like that) by the bed to help the transition.

Karlin
7th October 2007, 08:37 PM
That's a tough one. You are absolutely going to have to find a way to keep them separate for feeding. A cavalier cannot be given access to catfood -- it is way too high in protein levels and is designed for cats, which are pure carnivores and have quite different nutritional requirements -- and it is higher in calories. And the cats MUST be kept safely away from a dog while feeding. It may seem the cats are intimidating HIM now, but this is a recipe for disaster. He will reach a point where the cats annoy him enough that he will turn on them (believe me -- he will! It will be a normal part of him wanting his own space for something as important as eating as he matures and he WILL be bigger and stronger than all those cats). The chance of him losing an eye or a cat being fatally injured is there on either side.

You need to feed Barkley in a crate and give him 15 minutes to eat -- that way he will be safe, the cats cannot bother him, and his feeding session can be comfortable for everyone. Keep the cats in another room while he is fed. Cover it with a towel to give him some privacy or go buy a plastic crate with room for him to eat (Varikennel 200 is the usual size ofr a cavalier). He needs time without all the cats around all the time. A giant schnauzer crate is way too big -- getting him a proper crate for his size should also help and really it is a big benefit for you to crate train him anyway. Note that you need to crate train him before you start sticking him in crates for his meals -- he will cry because he isn't trained to be comfortable yet in a crate. :thmbsup: There's info on crate training in the Library section.

As you recognise, you also must find a way to give the cats access to their food if you must free feed them which bars Barkley from access. If the cats can climb I would consoder getting a cat tree and erecting it near a high shelf of some sort. If the cats have some way of getting up onto the tree they can be fed on an adjacent high shelf on a bookcase. Or maybe inside one of the boxes such trees have on various levels which a cat can get into but a dog can't.

You can also create a kind of box where the cats can get in and go down into a lower section where their food could be kept. A company made these for litter boxes but a food bowl could go in as well. I can't find the link though; if I do I will post it as a carpenter could make one up.

Otherwise I'd simply feed in the room with the litter box. It isn't a big deal to the cats if there's even a small distance between the two. When cats are boarded they are regularly in a small space and have litter near their food and water. If it is utility room sized then it will be plenty large for them to access food on one side, litter on the other, and would solve the whole problem.

Karlin
7th October 2007, 08:48 PM
Here's a similar site to the one I was thinking of -- actually, it is a better box that the one I saw before! This would be easy for a carpenter to make:

http://www.lovethatcat.com/cat-furniture-chest.html

I definitely want to make up one of these!

Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 09:44 PM
You live in Florida, right?


yes


Feed the dog outside.

No


As for the cats, do you have an extra bedroom that you could leave the dishes on the bed?

I have only one extra bedroom and I specifically keep it pet free.

But, :) I was thinking this over in the hours between originally posting the question and here's what I'm thinking. What do y'all think?

Barkley does not have an x-pen and I don't want to get one for him because the cats could get into it, and if he didn't like that, he could not escape them. I already have a metal water dish attached within Barkley's Lifestages crate, I could get another for food. I could monitor what he ate in there, and keep the cats away from him. I've got the full-size crate pad in there and it's hard to get in and out under his crate divider but I could always just put a towel over the section he is in, right? And I'd be happy to get the Giant Schnauzer crate out of the house...it is almost big enough to park my Miata in! :D

I had another idea, Barkley is crated in a travel crate next to my bed at night, and we sleep with the bedroom door closed...I could allow the cats to free feed during that time. Certainly they can fill their bellies during that time. I can also put their food down during Barkley's feeding times.

Does this make any sense? :confused: :xfngr:

Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 09:48 PM
Here's a similar site to the one I was thinking of -- actually, it is a better box that the one I saw before! This would be easy for a carpenter to make:

http://www.lovethatcat.com/cat-furniture-chest.html

I definitely want to make up one of these!

That is really cool!!!

Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 09:54 PM
getting him a proper crate for his size should also help and really it is a big benefit for you to crate train him anyway. Note that you need to crate train him before you start sticking him in crates for his meals -- he will cry because he isn't trained to be comfortable yet in a crate. :thmbsup: There's info on crate training in the Library section.

Solved...I purchased a Lifestages crate for him before he came home...he's in it when I can't watch him (and will be in when I return to work) and my cockers were all crate trained. I also have a travel carrier next to my bed that he's been sleeping in. I was only hesitating on feeding him in his crate because of the mess but...upon reflection, that is really the easiest solution.

Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 09:58 PM
One other thing...the cat litter box room has one of these gates (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=12521) guarding the entry to it. Barkley is still small enough to get through the cat door (which I must leave open for the ancient cat) but he will soon be too big!

MishathePooh
7th October 2007, 11:09 PM
Get the cats on a 2-4x/day feeding schedule. They just need more time to adjust than you probably gave it. You can either do it like with the dogs. Put the food down for 15 minutes and pick it up after that until the next feeding. See if they are still holding out after a week. I'd bet not.

Another way to do it would be to pick up the food from 1-2pm each day. Then start picking it up from 12:30-2:30pm, then 12-3pm, then 11-4pm, and so on and so forth. Allow 1-7 days for each time period transition. Although this might not be possible if you work. If you work, put the food out while you are home, and pick it up when you are away. Then gradually decrease the time the food it out.

Otherwise go for a tall cat tree and put the food on the highest platform.

Debby with a Y
7th October 2007, 11:40 PM
SOLVED!! Well at least for tonight, LOL!!

I took him to Pet Supermarket to buy a second crate bowl aka coop cup (funny that they are in the BIRD section!), and I just removed his bed from his crate and fed him in there. He ate with relish as long as I sat by his cage. (This is going to be time consuming and I hope he gets over this need!) He ate all but about the last four kibbles!! I hand fed those to him to make sure he got his whole meal.

At the same time I fed him, I put the cats' food out and the old ones came to eat.

I tried for several months to get the cats on a schedule after the oldest one was diagnosed with diabetes...couldn't do it...but maybe the addition of the wee doggy will get them on a schedule. I'm sure going to try.

Two of the cats swarmed around the crate, but I gently guided them away from him. I think being able to eat without defending himself was a big help.
Thanks, everyone!!! :wink: