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Old May 5th, 2008, 01:36 PM
Edie Kay Edie Kay is offline
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Question My Husband Says My Cats are Too Obsessed With Food

Hi all critter people!

This is my first post here, done at the urging of my husband. I will post his concerns below as he wrote them to me. I am interested in any feedback some of you who are familiar and experienced with a high quality pet food diet may have. I have been feeding my cats a diet inspired by Anitra Frazier's book, for 8 years, thanks to Max who in 2000, was sent home from the vet's office to die in a month from kidney failure. He lived for a year on Anitra's "I'll Do Anything For My Cats" diet; he improved and lived well for a year before he succumbed peacefully to kidney failure. My two cats, Freda and Elvis, are three years old and have been on the high-quality diet ever since they adopted us two years ago.

I would appreciate any comments on this!
Thanks,
Edie

Here are his concerns:


***************************

My wife and I, has two cats around 3 years old who, from the beginning, have been fed a home-made diet of either raw ground chicken, turkey or beef, plus barley, bone meal and peas. This is ground up and frozen, and later thawed by the container for them to eat. They get fed ample portions 2 times a day, occasionally a third. The cats look fine, sleek and healthy and have unusually friendly and outgoing dispositions; the comment we hear most is "these cats are more like dogs!"

Their behavior, however, was a problem for me. They appeared to be constantly ravenous, almost like dogs again!

At every dinner the cats attempted to come up on the table or onto our laps and go for the food. They did this between 4 and 14 times (I started counting). Most frequent is around 4-5 times a meal. We had a plant sprayer at the dinner table and sprayed them as well as making a 'tch-tch' sound, the combination of which got them to back off. It deflected them but did not deter them. They were usually back in a few minutes. This went on every day at every meal.

In addition the cats went after food left on the stove, the counter or in the sink. Some of this is not normally considered cat food, such as cheese, butter and bread. We couldn't leave a salad topped with some shaved feta cheese without the cats going after it. We couldn't leave pita bread or bagels on the counter or they would tear open the wrapping at each some of it. They would tear open a pretzel bag too. They'd go after a cup of ice cream. We had to hide food in kitchen cupboards normally reserved for dishes.

One of the cats, with claws, has successfully opened some of these cupboards and gone after the bread or pretzels we'd hidden inside and my wife installed child-proof latches to stop this. There's a plant sprayer in the kitchen that we used to keep them at bay while making dinner when the ingredients are out on the counter. If we're absent for a few seconds they would go for the food. They also were frequently walking on the stove and kitchen counters, leaving hair and footprints behind. I don't think this is terribly sanitary. On several occasions, one cat went after dishes that were rinsed and soaking in the sink and it took 3 or 4 seconds of turning on the tap water full force on his head to get him to run.

Sitting down for a late evening snack the cats would head for and swipe a small piece of cheese unless I protected it with my hand. They would grab for it even if I was sitting within inches of it. Once I actually fought one of the cats who had grabbed the cheese and literally pulled it out of his mouth, I was so angry.

Another time a piece of pretzel broke off and skittered away on the floor. Both cats were sitting a few feet away intensely watching and as the piece hit the floor one of them made a dash for it and I just managed to grab the piece first. A third sprayer sits in out living room to deal with this situation.

I don't think this is normal behavior for cats. I have had cats in prior living situations, feeding them conventional wet and dry cat food. No cat ever went after my food, took any food off the kitchen counter or tried to grab a piece that had fallen. They never went up on kitchen counters or the stove. I never had a plant sprayer at the ready. I never even gave it a thought.

I've seen cats in other people's houses fed commercial food never bother "people food." I saw one cat ignore an entire holiday buffet of cold cuts spread out on a table with no one to guard it. There was no need. A party we had with snacks for that same group of people required me to stand guard like an old-time western marshall, sprayer in hand, to fend off our cats. It got to be a joke among the people there. Eventually I persuaded my wife to lock the cats in a basement room.

The cats have become a serious nuisance to me because of this and I tired of spending some time each day trying to fend them off, and clean off the stove and counters. This was not pleasant and made me feel tense and irritable with them. They're really nice animals but their behavior around food is awful. I felt under siege by them. I am not alone. Several friends have been shocked by their behavior and have mentioned it. One friend, whose kids we've had feed the cats when we're away on vacation, has told us the kids don't really want to feed them any more - the cats just overwhelm them when they come in the house, and now the parents tend to do the feeding instead.

I don't know if the cats' diet is missing some essential nutrient, mineral or vitamin or if it's perfectly healthy for them but lacks variety or flavor. We added torn up pita bread to their meal in the hope this would satisfy them. They ate it but it has made no difference. We were not skimpy with their portions and if we gave them lots more in one sitting they would wolf it down and sometimes throw it up.

My wife refuses to consider commercial cat food, because of firsthand experiences with feline health problems and death brought on by and/or exacerbated by poor quality commercial pet food. The two cats I had previously on very commercial pet food did not seem to suffer from anything but I'm no expert on this and I have no memory nor knowledge of how the cats ultimately perished.

Most of all, I just found the situation to be taxing. I'd rather enjoy cats rather than spend my time fending them off.

Does anyone have any ideas, insights or suggestions about this situation?

Thanks,
Marty

Last edited by Edie Kay; May 5th, 2008 at 02:46 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 02:04 PM
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phoozles phoozles is offline
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I have the same problem - my kitten Alley is a food mooch, and I feed her commerical food. I don't think it has anything to do with what you feed her. Here's her thread: http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread....ight=alley+eat

We now lock her up in a room any time we are preparing or eating food. She actually just walks into the the other room now without much prodding.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 02:06 PM
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phoozles phoozles is offline
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Oh, you might want to get yourself a deterrant like the Ssscat Spray. It's non toxic and it worked well to keep Alley off of the counter. Make sure you have some refills though - she's a determined one, and if it runs out, the counter is fair game again.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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happycats happycats is offline
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What a situation

I know we all want answers for ours pets demise, and sometimes it is poor quality foods, but there are so many great high quality cat foods on the market now, that maybe with your cats being so ravenous, a good quality dry cat food left out at all times will help with this situation.

My oldest cat passed away this past September and he was 19 years old! he ate good quality dry food (available at all times to free feed) and canned food in the evenings. I also have 4 other cats ranging in age from 12 to 15, all fed cat food. I have also had a cat die at the age of 7 due to liver failure, so it's really difficult to blame cat food on her death.

I understand where you husband is coming from, it's very difficult to enjoy your pets company when they become such a nuisance, I believe free feeding your cats a good quality dry food, and teaching them some manners, would go a long way. I know you probably love them just the way they are, but if they are as bad as your husband says (you know what they say, love is blind) you may be depriving yourself of human companionship, due to their unruly behaviour.

Please don't think I am to harsh, I am trying to see all sides here (yours, your hubbys and your cats)
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Old May 5th, 2008, 02:34 PM
Edie Kay Edie Kay is offline
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Thanks for your replies, Phoozles, Alley and Happy!

It is nice to hear that it is not just *my* cats who are food hounds!

It is my husband's assertion that it is the "unconventional" high-quality food that is causing their behavior. If feeding them a commercial cat food would cure them of this behavior, then I would consider it. I would LOVE to find a high quality cat dried cat food without toxic preservatives that I could leave out for snacking all the time. I have even made them "cookies" that I keep in the fridge for treats. Unfortunately I have been working inhuman hours and don't always have time to do this for them. But it sounds like it may be more of a "personality" issue. I would not like to have the worst of both worlds; that is, a cat with food related health problems and a food obsession.

I have had cats my entire life and have only had older cats since switching to the high quality diet. These are the first young'uns I have had on it; I hoped it was merely behavior consistent with immaturity. And indeed, the cats have mellowed in many ways in my two years with them. But my husband, who is NOT a critter person (in his previous marriage he simply gave cats back to the pound when they became too much of a hassle) has no patience for this.

Edie

Last edited by Edie Kay; May 5th, 2008 at 02:47 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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want4rain want4rain is offline
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never thought i would say this but im with Happycats. we feed raw supplemented with the occasional Evo or Felidae (cause we go out of town once or twice a year.... babysitters and raw?? 'ew' they say).

Shadow is our... stubborn cat. i can imagine if he had company as... troublesome as he is, it would only get worse over time but since he has no cohorts, its manageable. sounds to me like you guys have a handful of stubborn cats and they feed off of each other.

Ssscat is a great product, coupled with squirt bottles, free fed Evo(or other grain free kibble) and some double sided tape... i bet you guys can have some pleasant cats shortly.

-ash
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Old May 5th, 2008, 02:45 PM
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It's no secret that I'm not a fan of kibble for cats, so my opinion (surprise surprise!) is not to go that route. But perhaps your homemade diet could use a bit of tweaking. Although Anitra Frazer is a pioneer of natural cat care, some of her diets are a bit outdated. For instance, you don't need to include the barley or peas, and I'm worried about the taurine content of this diet if you aren't adding any supplements. Also, a better source of calcium would be to either use real bones rather than bone meal, or else use calcium carbonate. Here's a great recipe for a raw diet, developed by a vet who has made feline nutrition her life passion, so it's well balanced:
http://www.catinfo.org/makingcatfood.htm Perhaps that will help your cat's ravenousness!
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Old May 5th, 2008, 03:04 PM
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want4rain want4rain is offline
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you know im not big fan of it either but it sounds like her cats have that sort of habit of scarfing down food maybe because they were starved at some point?? im thinking like Frances situation... or that they ARE missing something... but what would make them psychopaths about food????

i totally agree though, going totally raw meat only, as whole prey as possible will clean up the air a little.


Edie Kay, are you feeding raw muscle meat?? im not familiar with the diet. chicken heart?? clam or oyster??

-ashley
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Old May 5th, 2008, 03:23 PM
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phoozles phoozles is offline
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I'm wondering if they are indeed ravenous, or if this is just their behaviour.

Are they starving? Were they like this before you started this diet?

The reason I ask is that my kitten does this more out of habit, rather than anything. She could be free fed and will still snatch food. She grabbed some pineapple out of my FH's hand the other day - and didn't even eat it - it's the snatching more than the starving - so changing the diet might not make a difference.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 03:44 PM
Edie Kay Edie Kay is offline
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Thanks so much for the input!!!

I am no fan of crunchy cat food either, I would love to find a solution that I could control (meaning: make myself.)

I wondered if Anitra's diet could use some tweaking. I do experiment with different vegetables, both cats are fond of many: cooked broccoli, asparagus, greens, corn, potatoes, zucchini, peas. I feed them ground chicken alternating with ground turkey and beef from the butcher. But I can check to see if the bones can be ground in as well. I read Dr. Pierson's recipe and it makes good solid sense to me. I do add a taurine supplement occasionally, though my vet said that they have minimal requirements for taurine and that the raw food should do it.

My calico girl, Freda, came to me as a stray, she is a skilled hunter. She was used to eating prey. Unfortunately she is very bold (not afraid of cars) and we lived on a busy street. I turned her into an indoor cat six months after she moved in with us. Since that time, she has been very needy, literally hangs around me and my every move, which is fine by me. She's good company. She became more emphatic about food about that time. If I am home in decent time, I make sure to give her a third meal and that takes the edge off her hunger. Often I work some very long hours (I am self-employed) and I don't have the chance to do so. My husband sometimes fed her, usually didn't even though he was home at a regular (early) hour everyday.

The other cat, Elvis, was a rescue from a terminally ill man from an assisted living facility. Elvis was a bored and active one year old (on a kibble diet) who LOVED Freda's company instantly. They get along famously and play like crazy. He has better manners but is egged on for sure by his unruly house mate, Freda.

I don't think either cat had any issues with food deprivation. I tend to think that it is something that is lacking in their diet or perhaps a personality issue. I will try eliminating the barley and see if the greater concentration of protein helps.

Edie
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Old May 5th, 2008, 03:45 PM
Edie Kay Edie Kay is offline
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Some good ideas

Phoozles, I think that it is more to do with nutrition than habit/behavior. Freda especially, will eat whatever it is she scavenges. At least I hope so because that is an easier fix!

Edie

Last edited by Edie Kay; May 5th, 2008 at 03:50 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by want4rain View Post
never thought i would say this but im with Happycats.
-ash

Hey whats that supposed to mean?!
Am I that hard to agree with?
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Old May 5th, 2008, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happycats View Post
Hey whats that supposed to mean?!
Am I that hard to agree with?
the kibble thing doofus!!

-ash
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Old May 5th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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BusterKitty BusterKitty is offline
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Wow, you've got your hands full at the dinner table!

Cats are carnivores so they don't need all that many veggies in their diet. Change their food around and see what else they would eat(but seeing as they can eat pita bread, they may not be as stubborn as many cats are) and bread's a no-no too as the carbs are bad for your kitties.

I agree with Phoozles. It may just be a habit that they picked up. Could hunting = snatching food out of people's hands? And maybe Elvis learned it from Freda?Well, I hope you find the solution because it would be terrible if they never lose their title of being a nuisance.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by want4rain View Post
the kibble thing doofus!!

-ash
LOL
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Old May 7th, 2008, 11:20 AM
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Love4himies Love4himies is offline
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I have adopted two strays, one who was on her own for at least 4 months and had to fight off Toms at the feeding stations for food. She has a huge eating issue, and will eat anything she can and trust me, she gets plenty to eat and quality cat food so it is not hunger or a lacking of anything in her diet, the other has some eating issues but not as severe.

I asked my vet about this and she stated that once a cat has been very hungry, they have a tendency to have eating issues. Even though your Freda was a skilled hunter, she may have been extremely hungry at times, could even extend back to her kitten days (large litter, not enough food, mom not producing enough milk, etc).
I fostered this eater with her 7 kittens before I adopted her. As the kittens got bigger, there was huge fighting for a nipple, to the point that I thought they were going to tear each other's eyes out. The smallest of the kittens, who normally lost their nipple to the bigger ones acted exactly the same as Freda (I had them for 5 months, until they were big enough to spay).

As for Elvis, he was young when you got him and he may have picked up habits from Freda.

In saying that, my vote is personality, so some consistent training, with very precise, regular feedings may be needed. If you have a quality raw diet recipe, I think that is better than any cat food you can buy.
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Old May 7th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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Just 2 tidbits from me.......

One. I would listen carefully to sugarcatmom's recommendations re tweaking the recipie.

Two. Naturally, our cats will eat in the range of 12-20+ times a day...small meals each time. They are small cats, and small cats' systems work very differently from most other mammals, including large cats (lions/tigers). Just as small cats are "obligate carvivores", they are also "obligate grazers".

This was written by a Vet on another board:
"But if one isn't home or set up for frequent feeding, or believes that
cats are little lions, to let a cat go hours and hours without a meal
runs counter to the way their metabolism works. Certain metabolic
functions in cats occur in the *fed* state whereas in ourselves they
occur in the fasting state, overnight. That's why we call breakfast
"break fast", because we fasted all night. Cats don't, they eat."

So, given the above,
Quote:
They get fed ample portions 2 times a day, occasionally a third... Their behavior, however, was a problem for me. They appeared to be constantly ravenous...
is it really any wonder that A is causing B?????????
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