Question for cat people

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by flutterbee, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    We have taken in a foster kitty. This kitty belonged to the parents of one of difficult child's friends. He was kept in the basement and didn't have consistent access to food or water. He is between 8 months and 1 year old and goes to be neutered today. He wasn't too thin when we got him, but then they knew for almost 3 weeks that we were taking him.

    He inhales his food. Literally. He doesn't chew. We've had to break his meals into even smaller portions so he doesn't gorge himself and vomit. He's also food aggressive. I've never seen this before in a cat unless it's with a special kind of treat. If we go near him when he is eating, he'll growl and his ears flatten.

    My intention is to adopt this kitty out to a suitable home after he's had time to heal from surgery and we've had a chance to get to really observe how he interacts with people and the other cats and dog (so we can get a good idea of what kind of home will be good for him). But, I can't adopt him out if he's going to be attacking people that go near his food.

    He is also horrible around people food. He has to be put into another room while anyone eats. We store the cat food in a tub with a lid that snaps shut, and he was on top of it digging at it and growling at me as I got him off it. I now have to store it in a closet.

    I know how to work with a dog with these issues, but have no idea how to address it with cats. I've searched online and found nothing relating to feline food aggression.

    Any ideas?
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

  3. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I found Piper (our Torbie) in a dumpster.....and she was malnourished, food aggressive, and just waiting for love...not TOO much as well you know a cat - they get love when THEY want it.

    I would not have tried to feed her anything from my hand at first for fear of loosing a finger. So I sat on the floor with her every time I got her food - and I held it in my lap. If she wanted the food she HAD to come to me. She didn't like it, she didn't like me for doing it - but it was food so she finally gave in. As she would eat I would just talk (NOT PET) to her in a low, soothing voice. Eventually I would start with a hand full of kitten chow (we fed her Iams) and she would eat out of my hand - that took about a week of training her in a quiet secluded place where she got used to the idea that YES, there was food and NO - no one was going to take it away from her.
    After I got her to eat out of my hand for about a week - I added in canned mixed with dry - in my palm. She would then eat the meat parts out, and at that point I was able to get her to allow me to touch her food bowl. Once she was okay with me picking up HER food bowl which we kept in the same place and never moved - I would fill the bowl and leave it. If she wanted to eat - she did. If not - fine. And I would not put so much in the bowl so that I couldn't approach her when she was eating to put MORE food in - and that seemed to work.

    It was a lot of work - but now she shares, and she has CAT-Lag - what a belly. She's not a lovey dovey cat - but when she wants attention she's around. She IS a terrific mole catcher and dragon slayer - (we keep telling her NO to the little lizards she brings in as we like them just not 1/2 deflated in our laps)

    Hope this helps.
  4. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Sounds like Star's technique worked but I suppose that would depend on the animal. I would think, though, that you would do something similar dog, cat, or snuffleufagus. Our second dog was basically a rescue as her previous owners moved and left her. I'm pretty sure they didn't feed her regularly and we had food issues with her too. Amazingly though, I could touch and pick up her food bowl while she was eating. Her issue was mainly with other animals. We just fed her regularly, gave her attention and while she's still a food hound (as most dogs are) our other dog can actually walk by the bowl while she's eating and she doesn't go after him.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I agree with Star's approach. It's probably going to take a lot of time, patience, and consistency to develop any trust in the poor cat. And even then, the trauma from the months of neglect may have done some permanent damage.

    We got our first cat from the shelter. He was a 4 or 5 week old when he had been brought in from off the street. He was VERY wild and scared when they first got him and told us it took two weeks just to get him to calm down enough to be held. He was sick, too, so that didn't help. He did a lot of hissing the first year we had him.

    We've had him three years now, and he's a great cat, but still startles easily -- I'm sure it's left over from whatever wild and scarey environment he first experienced as a kitten.

    Have you checked the new cat for worms? That can definitely affect their hunger level, and if he was neglected for that long, who knows? I think I would leave dry kibble out all the time for this cat and just let him get used to having it always available. He may gorge himself for a while, but eventually, that might work itself out. You can always switch to a lower-calorie formula if he starts to pack on the weight. Just my 2 cents.
  6. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I think Star's approach sounds great, as long as little kitteh is healthy? We have been lucky with every rescue, all they wanted was the love part!!!
    Food was second... One of our Rotties was aggressive and I made him eat out of my hand for treats... he had been abused. I did kind of the same thing as Star. I would have him come to me... give him love and show him it was OK, treat him, pet him, make him work a bit for it. He was always protective of us and out property but he was fine with us.
    He was 130lbs... so I wanted to make sure i could feed him!!!
    Good luck she is lucky to have you...
    Our Tabby has taken years to be what she is... and she is OK. Lots of Anxiety. But able to come outside, play with girls, see the dog.... this took YEARS!!!
    I have to spend time with her each night... she has her special Momma time. She whips biscuits and drools.... and then goes and hides.... under the bed. Happy as can be.
  7. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    This sounds like a great Animal Planet question!!

  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Sounds like the way Bruce was with food when we first took him in. Oh, and he couldn't stand the other animals coming near it either.

    Consistant food and water was enough to bring him out of it. Now he'll eat and drink right along with the dogs.

    But I don't have a clue how long he was a stray before we ended up with him either. He wasn't very "dirty" nor thin.

    I wonder how much he was socialized being down in the basement. Poor kitty.
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    We've had him about a week and a half. Tested negative for feline leukemia, had rabies and distemper and was wormed. He wasn't tested, but he seemed to me to have a wormy belly. However, he never passed anything in the litter box. I'm thinking they gave him a bunch of food before sending him over and what I thought was a wormy belly was a ball of food. He gets the second worm medicine Tuesday.

    He's very friendly with people. We've had to teach him to play. He didn't seem to get it at first. Last night was the first time he was around the other cats - and only because I couldn't take it anymore from difficult child - and he was so laid back about it. Except near the food. And there wasn't any food down because he was NPO for his surgery today. But, he could tell where it was supposed to be and he was going after anything that had the smell.

    I'll try leaving food out for him all the time - which is what I do with my other cats - but I'm worried about it. He literally does not chew. Just swallows. And it's never enough. I'm afraid he's going to aspirate on it. But, I'll try it and keep a close eye on him.
  10. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Simple solution for the scarf n' barf syndrome. Cats are designed to eat crouching down. That's because their esophagus makes a very sharp bend where it passes around the heart.

    A cat that is bolting it's food down can actually pack the esophagus with too much food to move along. It backs up at that bend and has nowhere to go but back up again.

    All you need to do is to raise the dish to chest level so the cat is eating with it's head and neck extended. That gives the food a clear, straight path to the stomach.

    Regarding not chewing. Cats aren't really designed to chew much, either. If you look in a cat's mouth, you'll note that unlike a dog, there are no grinders in there at all. Best you get on some cats is the occasional *crunch* here and there.
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Wynter -

    Gvc Mom is correct - our kitteh was feral. When they handed her to me she had just been fished out of the dumpster. I had leather work gloves on and when I reached out for her she just went limp. She still has issues with being picked up and will more so than not play "OH hoooman catch me." Sassy britches.

    And Going North is absolutely on the money - The raccoon that took our kitteh's face off left her with a lot of tooth damage. Our vet sewed her soft tissue with teeth back in (I actually helped with the surgery) and she ended up missing a few teeth - she did the same inhale food despite a bowl full being left for her. But all our animals dishes are up on pedestals. It helps 120% with the bulldogs. And believe it or not I have the am. bulldog and a pitbull that will eat from the same dish even though they don't have to.

    You can send the kitteh to me - I'd love to have another one. I think the next time it will be a black one. They get left out at the shelter because of so many superstitious people - and they are such lovers.

    I love that you had to teach him to play - we have to do that a lot with foster and rescue dogs. Fur people amaze me.
  12. Loving Abbey 2

    Loving Abbey 2 Not really a Newbie

    I got one of my cats as a kitten and he wasn't being well cared for. Not abused but not well fed or loved. He did not hiss or growl with food but he inhaled it, to the point his little tummy was round and firm! Then he'd lie on his back, fully tummy up and fall asleep. With a lot of food and time, he got better. He did eat too much from time to time and vomit but that too stopped with time. I'd fill his bowl and put it down for him with lots of soft happy talking. I was mainly concerned about giving him love. I also gave him little treats all over the house. To give him the idea that food was everywhere, not a scarcity.

    But he has turned out to be the sweetest happy. All I have to do is talk in that soft happy voice and tell him he's a pretty kitty, and he purs. I don't even have to touch him! He's actually pretty docile, even with difficult child. He loves her so much, he sleeps in her room when she's asleep or at school.
  13. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You know another thought is to change the food to a really high protein, high grade food that causes the kitty to become full faster. I know if I feed my animals low quality food, they eat twice as much as if I buy them the good stuff. It just does not fill them up!

    Poor lil kitty - I hope he turns his little self around. I just hate it when animals defeat themselves in getting adopted.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Gone North;s advice on raising up the food dish is exactly what our vet said when our old cat was doing this. We have no idea why she started, but she would eat until she puked, then do it again. She still lived to be 15. Go figure.

    When we raised her dishes up (I used a tupperware container designed to hold a square thing of ice cream because the lid was lost) it made a big difference. she would still binge and purge occasionally, but not at every meal.

    The pedestals sold are now more affordable than they used to be. There are some cute ones. But turning a plastic or other washable container upside down works and usually has no cost. Just make sure you wash it off every day like the food dishes.

    Hugs to the kitty.

  15. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I tried raising the dish. He just pulled the food out with his paws and inhaled it. I know cats don't chew much. But he eats like a starved animal that hasn't eaten in days or weeks. Ever watch Animal Planet and those Animal Cops shows when they rescue a dog that hasn't eaten and how it inhales the food...turns the dish over, etc? That's what he does.

    Today, he's let me near him while he's eating and he's been fine. However, if he can even see another cat while he's eating, he's growling and carrying on. Hopefully, it will work itself out, but we'll see.