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Long: Taz versus the Girls. (Cat issues)

dogmelissa
August 11th, 2006, 06:12 PM
Brief background: The girls, Aubrie and Rusty, were adopted from the local shelter when they were about 2 yrs old (Aubrie was 3 months before Rusty). I've had them for 7 yrs now. Taz (a boy kitty) came to me as a tiny kitten 3 years ago. The girls get along quite well. They're not best friends, and don't spend all their time together, but they aren't against cuddling with each other or both laying with me. Taz is generally tolerated, but not loved by either. Things were better when he was a kitten, as he was small enough they could get away from him or teach him how to behave. Now he weighs 23 lbs (the girls weigh 12lbs & 9lbs), and is taller than both of them by about 2" at the shoulders. He's a giant suck with me, but when he's hungry, he's cranky with everyone. And since Taz is on a diet (he'd probably be about right around 18 lbs), he's pretty much always hungry. I feed Taz twice a day, at about 8:30 am/pm and he gets 1/4c of Eagle Pack Duck & Oatmeal (he is switching to Natural Balance Venison & Green Pea). He also gets about 1/2c of a mixture of canned pumpkin, canned Venison & Green Pea food once a day. He used to eat more than this, but when I realized that he was gaining weight (he grew boobs!!), I started measuring his food more accurately.
The girls are free-fed, though in a modified dog kennel with a magnetic cat door, as their food makes Taz sick, not to mention that he eats it all and ends up sick & fat.

The problem started a few months ago, and our solution was to lock Taz in the basement when we leave in the morning, and let him out when we come home at night. Taz, when he's hungry, will chase and attack whichever girl is closest to him. Rusty fights back, but often ends up losing anyhow (he outweighs her more than 2:1 so she doesn't have a lot of a chance). They make the most noise, and Rusty *always* has a tuft of fur (or more) pulled out of her (she is long-haired, as is Aubrie; Taz is short-haired). Aubrie tends to just cower or runs away and hides. Taz also will lay at the doorway to their kennel and neither of them can get to their food--Aubrie has often woken me up at night when Taz is laying there. We have on average 1-2 fights a day. It's better if it's nice out and Taz can go outside, but in winter, that's not an option.

So I need help. I need Taz to lose weight, so I can't feed him more. But I don't know what to do to keep him from attacking the girls. I know it's jealousy and hunger talking, but I don't know what to do. I have a programmable auto-feeder coming for Taz soon, so that he can be fed more often (smaller amounts) and won't associate me with his food, but it's not supposed to be here until mid-September. I don't know what to do to solve the cat-fight issue other than keeping Taz locked in the basement all the time, which doesn't actually solve the problem and means that he doesn't get to have the cuddle-time and attention from me that he needs (he licks his front legs hairless when he's locked up too long).

Sorry this is so long.
Any advice is much appreciated. (Re-homing any of them isn't an option, so don't suggest it.)

Melissa