An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cat Food Matters: Eating Too Fast

 Dear Readers,

A few of you have written about an eating problem that is sometimes behavioural and sometimes not. The query usual goes something like this: While my folks were away, my hired slave noticed that I would, from time to time, wolf down my food. Some 10 minutes later, I would throw it back up. Somehow she didn't appreciate undigested matter on the counter top or the floor. What's with that?

No cat should ever be embarrassed by exercising part of the feline repertoire. I, too, have been noted for leaving undigested food deposits around the house once in a while.

If this happens within about 15 minutes of your scarfing your dinner, have no fear. It simply means you ate far too fast. Now eating far too fast could be due to anxiety, in this case the anxiety from your folks having the nerve to leave home without you. Not that you'd like to go with them, of course, but rather the idea that they could stand to be apart from you.

The solutions are relatively simply to implement:

#1 Have Themselves reduce your portion size, so you only digest small amounts of food at a time.

Of course they might object because it would mean more frequent feedings, in which case I suggest you revise the terms of your contract with them. The downside for you, is that there are no large bowls of kibble left out for you to nibble on whenever you please.

This new method of food delivery could result in tardy service. Should that happen, do let them know. While
a good barf would get their attention, it would be the last thing you could produce on such a schedule. Time for a gentle poke with an extended claw, I think.

#2 If you eat wet food, then start trolling the Net for the right china. Select the largest plate or platter and have it delivered to your door.

Then direct Themselves to take your portion of wet food and smear it in a thin layer around the entire surface of the plate. It's the equivalent of having humans chew their food well before swallowing. It slows you down.

#3 If you eat dry food, you could try having it put into a food puzzle dispenser. That would make you work for each piece of kibble. And you might get so interested in the workings of the puzzle that you will pause between bites. My colleague in the video below demonstrates the use of one kind of puzzle dispenser (a ball with holes that can be adjusted to varying degrees of difficulty). This particular one is called a Slim Cat Treat Ball.

Another version is the Kong Cat Wobbler, shown in the video below.

Don't forget that if Themselves are even the least bit dexterous, they can make a  Homemade Food Puzzle  from an empty toilet roll by simply: 1) making holes in its sides (with a punch or craft knife) large enough for kibble to fall out of, 2) taping one end of the cylinder shut with masking tape, 3) then putting some kibble in the cylinder and taping the other end shut. This link also has other food puzzle ideas to try.

Recently the folks at Hagen introduced a Catit Design Senses Food Maze as part of a series of products to provide us with environmental stimulation. I haven't tried it myself but it looks quite interesting. And the advantage it has over the food puzzle ball you roll on the floor is that the human won't be as likely to trip over it.

I will comment on the overall product package in another entry, because I like some part of it and others, not so much.

#4 If anxiety is at the root of the issue, you must address that as well.

As you know, I suggest a good workout with an interactive toy (human attached) a couple of times a day, to help you relax. After all, if Themselves can go to the gym to work off their stress, they ought to do the equivalent for you.

Now if your episodes occur every day, or at longer intervals than just after eating, and/or involve digested matter or mucus or anything else, make an appointment to see your veterinarian and get to the guts of the matter. Chances are a medical issue is involved. And as I see it, there is no point in your inflaming your esophagus with stomach acid.

Here's to gracious eating!