Cat Care (II?)

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Cat Care (II?)

Postby Inst » Sun Sep 13, 2015 7:05 pm UTC

So, I recently obtained two kittens (5-6 months at this age) and I'm totally clueless as to what to do with them. I want to be able to make them as happy as I can make them, i.e, be good at this entire cat care business, so as a corollary, I need to know how to take care of the cats.

I have 2 cat houses, a cat basin, 2 kitty litter boxes, non-clay-based cat care, $100 worth of dry food that's about to be exhausted, $150 worth of wet food that should last 2 weeks, some toys that I never let them play with, and a frozen whole turkey in the fridge.

My main questions are:

-Can I feed the cats the raw turkey? Wet food is ridiculously expensive, but dry food is potentially hazardous, and at the same time, while websites say that raw turkey bones are safe for cats, I worry the raw turkey will splinter and cause internal damage.

-Should I, or should I not play with them on occasion? My primary mode of interaction is by cuddling and stroking them, but I do have cat teasers. I worry that cat teasers might not work, because they're not real prey and they're not fully destructable.

-What are good cat names? I'm thinking about naming the orange cat (It's a male orange "classic" tabby with white paws and a female brown mackerel tabby with calico markings, perhaps a sign of chimericism) Manjusri and the brown cat Shiva, because the calico markings make her seem like a glacier at night under certain lighting, but that's a Final Fantasy reference, not a Hinduism reference. It is appropriate, of course, because my cats run around destroying everything and incurring massive property damage, but perhaps there is a better way to combine destruction and ice?

I am postponing the cat-naming until they're 1 year old, I want something that's appropriate, yet at the same time, I wanted to name my cats Lu Xun and Soeseki Natsume, after the respective founders of their modern literatures, as well as the fact that Soeseki wrote a satirical novel called "I am a Cat". I wanted to do it because I wanted to quote the writers and claim I was quoting my cats instead, but the personalities didn't fit. In a way, what I want to do is that I want to be able to pretend that my cats are seriously the incarnations of the Buddhist Bodhisattva Manjusri and the Hindu God Shiva, and treat them as such. Of course, rationally, reincarnation is unscientific and even if it were true, for even one of my cats to be the Bodhisattva or the Hindu God would be highly unlikely, for them both to be would be essentially impossible, but I view pretending my cats to be someone else to be highly therapeutic; i.e, as I take care of my cats, my cats take care of me. They become a locus for debate and meditation; of course my cats have neither divine nor human opinions, but they will keep me intellectual company.

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Angua » Sun Sep 13, 2015 7:23 pm UTC

How is dry cat food hazardous? I've never come across that before. Cats and dogs need to eat dry food at least some of the time, as it helps clean their teeth.

I wouldn't worry about the turkey too much, cats manage to eat pigeons and other birds leaving only the beak (and a lot of messy feathers) so they should be ok. You could always try deboning out the larger ones if you're worried. I hear cooked chicken bones are meant to be more brittle.

Of course, this is coming from someone who grew up in a culture where you feed chicken bones to dogs and none of them ever had a problem (of course, this tended to horrify expats and tourists).

As for naming,
It's an interesting fact that fewer than 17 % of Real cats end their lives with the same name they started with. Much family effort goes into selecting one at the start ("She looks like a Winnifred to me"), and the as the years roll by it suddenly finds itself being called Meepo or Ratbag.

Name your cat something you're comfortable shouting at 2am (or you can just teach them to come when you squeak or whistle which is easy too).

Also, of course you should play with your cats! That's the whole point why cat toys (and things like pieces of string, large leaves, crunched up balls of paper) exist. Cats enjoy playing - it's a way that they keep their skills sharp for the hunt, and so it's part of their nature, even if you don't plan on letting them out. Also, it's better to have things they are allowed to play with rather than them going for everything else.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:20 am UTC

Kittens love laser pointers. With you doing the pointing, it's prey that's dynamic in a way that no cat toy can be. Just don't shine it in their, or your, or anyone else's eyes, obviously.

Since you got two, they will do a lot of playing with each other. If you find them tearing up carpets and scratching everything up, get them a scratching post. They won't necessarily play a lot forever, so enjoy it before they wind down, let them attack your feet or hands, egg them on. Teach them to fetch things if you have enough space to throw their toys.

These things are common tropes, but they happened for a reason; cats are not complicated creatures.

As far as raw turkey, I have heard of no cases in which wild or domesticated cats cook their food. And in the long run this kind of food would be better for them. Dry and canned cat food is generally of dubious quality, and a lot of cats later in their lives will have kidney or pancreatic issues because of it, speaking from experience.
Last edited by Sheikh al-Majaneen on Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:34 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:30 am UTC

It sounds like you have the right equipment.
Don't know where you're buying cat food, but two kittens should go through 1 6oz can of food per day, with high quality crunchies available. Even choosing the most expensive cans that should come to $50 for 24 cans, at most. My cats have lived long lives (one made it to 25) eating Friskies brand canned food and the occasional chicken liver. Ask your vet about feeding raw foods. Cats need organ meats as they cannot produce taurine, an essential amino acid, without which they will suffer kidney problems and go blind. The raw bones should be ok.
All felines need lots of stimulation to stay healthy and sane. Just about every game they play is practice hunting-with whatever they can get their paws on. They will love to chase the string, or feather, or laser dot, or catnip mousie. You can train them to come when called and to walk in a harness, but it takes patience. They will love to attack your feet under the bedclothes, or as we call them, blanket mice. The more you interact with your kittens the more they will think of you as the boss of the pride, which can be very useful. They will also become more sociable and want to keep you company.
A spray bottle is great for long distance discipline, like chasing them off a table you want them to stay off of. It will work as long as you are in the room. Once you leave, all bets are off.
Oh, and go to YouTube and watch the Simon's Cat films.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:25 am UTC

Regarding names, you want something ridiculous or something formal.

Mittens, Princess, etc are right out.

You either want abstract concepts or proper names. Arguably mixing them. Name them Ennui and Patrick. So you can say things like "I came home to find Ennui had chased Patrick on to the top of the fridge again"
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Inst » Mon Sep 14, 2015 7:43 am UTC

Cat foods are generally of dubious quality, cats might like them or they might get on well with them but often it's made from inferior materials, for instance, rendered animal protein and fat from roadkill is processed into cat food, and sometimes they send euthanised animals to the renderer. The cost here comes because I insist on buying them food that I myself might eat; if I were sufficiently desperate and if there was nothing else available, of course. I make a policy of tasting the cat food before I feed them it; if I'm paying enough, it's not gross and sometimes I get hungry from tasting the cat food.

Dry foods vs wet foods; cats are supposed to have a weak sense of thirst and as creatures that evolved in the desert, they are supposed to get a large portion of their liquids intake from their food. That suggests you either hydrate your dry cat food first, or you switch to wet cat food; wet cat food advocates claim that dry foods will cause kidney problems in the long-term.

The reason I don't want to play with my cats is because the play is simulating the capture and killing of prey. For the cats, somehow I feel it's like feeding them acrylic sushi; it looks real and quite appetizing but the fact that they can't actually eat them must be discouraging. I read somewhere as well, that when you want to play with your cats, you want to give them destructible toys, because after all, it's prey simulation, and even if they can't eat them they should be granted the satisfaction of being able to cause damage. That's why people claim that laser cat toys are bad as well; cats should be allowed to catch their opponent once in a while, otherwise it's just a recipe for frustration.

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby JudeMorrigan » Mon Sep 14, 2015 1:17 pm UTC

It's been my experience that people are weirdly dogmatic about the wet vs. dry food thing. All I can say is that my critters have always done just fine on dry food. I would, however, quite recommend one of those circulating water dishes one can buy. It's nice to feel like you've tried your best when the ignore it in favor of drinking out of the toilet. ;)

As far as it goes, you totally should let your cat catch their toys occasionally while playing with them (including the red dot), but I promise you that they'll be very happy playing with non-destructible toys. Heck, you'll see them playing both with each other and with you, and they'll make a point of not causing any actual damage.

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Zohar » Mon Sep 14, 2015 1:53 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:people are weirdly dogmatic

Hah!

...

I have nothing else to contribute to the discussion.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:08 pm UTC

Inst wrote:Dry foods vs wet foods; cats are supposed to have a weak sense of thirst and as creatures that evolved in the desert, they are supposed to get a large portion of their liquids intake from their food. That suggests you either hydrate your dry cat food first, or you switch to wet cat food; wet cat food advocates claim that dry foods will cause kidney problems in the long-term.

And wet foods cause thyroid problems. So you're damned either way.

With toys, one of cats for the longest time carried around this kissing pig stuffed animal and yowled while she did it. It was adorable and loud. Incredibly loud. Outside of that, both my cats like string and such, but we can't use a laser pointer - because the dog just pushes them out of the way so he can catch it. He's kind of a dick.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:50 am UTC

A cat will play, on its own, with plenty of things that are clearly not prey, such as leaves, sparkly bits of trash, grass stems and so on. They know it's a game and enjoy it.
I've lived with cats for 54 years. When they don't like a toy they ignore it. When they want to play with something, they claim it as a toy. When they want to hunt, they ask to go outside and find themselves a snack. If you don't let them out, they need the play-hunting even more.
If your goal is to feed your cats only food you would eat, then make it yourself. It will be much cheaper, just ask your vet about appropriate recipes.
Cats are really quite hardy creatures. They will thrive in most situations.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby doogly » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:16 pm UTC

Yeah, kitties are very aware of what is playtime, and they are very happy with playtime. Playing is fantastic and you should do it as much as possible. This is an exception to the usual advice towards moderation and balance. Chase them, give them laser dots or toys on a string to chase. It's all good.

You can put out both wet and dry and see which they eat more. If the dry food is high in protein rather than grain fillers, that's probably all you really need to worry about. But in general, it might turn out that your cats are picky. If so, bend to their indomitable will. You don't need to be picky in advance of their finickiness though.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby PictureSarah » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:27 pm UTC

I'd recommend asking your vet about a high quality, grain-free dry food. We feed our kitties Taste of the Wild.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby doogly » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:53 pm UTC

Oh yeah, I hear taking your cat to a vet is a good idea. I went like two years without doing this, but that is not best practices.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:37 am UTC

doogly wrote:Yeah, kitties are very aware of what is playtime, and they are very happy with playtime.

You woke up less than a second ago, and your toes are uncovered. To a kitten, this is playtime.

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby studyinserendipity » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:41 am UTC

Just chiming in to say that my parents' kittens/cats enjoy playing with odd things - one likes a pair of black stretchy gloves (although a black sock will do), one likes chasing and batting around hair elastics, one enjoys batting around those rings around the tops of milk bottles, and one doesn't really play, just wants to sit with her face in everyone's shoes. Once they noticed an infatuation with a particular object, my parents just bought some of that thing to have as their toy.

Except for the cat who likes shoes. We just leave the shoes out so she can stick her face in them.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Thesh » Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:03 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:And wet foods cause thyroid problems. So you're damned either way.

Although as they said, they are not sure what causes it, one suspect is BPA plastics that line the cat food cans. If you are going to feed wet food, it might be a good idea to find cans that are not lined with BPA plastics. I feed mine Nature's Variety Instinct, which does use BPA-free cans.

But, of course, it might not be that simple:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... hazardous/

The other option is a raw diet, which cat provide them with the moisture to prevent urinary tract issues, while avoiding contamination with plastics, and if they include raw bones (e.g. chicken backs), it can help clean their teeth (just never ever feed cooked chicken bones). Just read up/ask your vet, as you can't just feed your cat raw meats like you would eat and expect them to be healthy. They have supplements that are necessary if you are going to be feeding a 100% raw diet.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby existential_elevator » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:04 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:The other option is a raw diet, which cat provide them with the moisture to prevent urinary tract issues, while avoiding contamination with plastics, and if they include raw bones (e.g. chicken backs), it can help clean their teeth (just never ever feed cooked chicken bones). Just read up/ask your vet, as you can't just feed your cat raw meats like you would eat and expect them to be healthy. They have supplements that are necessary if you are going to be feeding a 100% raw diet.

Seconding this. I don't do it myself because I have enough conflict of interest as it is keeping a carnivore while vegetarian, but one of my good friends is a strong advocate of the raw diet. She mostly feeds hers chicken mince, I understand, with dry food occasionally given as a treat. There are quite a few good forums out there who will help you put together a raw food plan for your pet, too. My (very blurry) understanding is that it's all about optimising taurine intake, and any foodstuffs not containing taurine are pretty useless for cats nutrition-wise.
I also understand cats can have allergies to things (especially stuff used in dry food) and it can be difficult to spot them. Vets can help!

Re: water intake for cats -

Make sure the water is kept well away from the food. If possible, have a few small sources of water in different rooms and places. The cats think it's fresher that way! It's instinct, or something. I swear by electronic water fountains, which you can get relatively cheaply if you shop around. The 19/20 year old cat I very briefly looked after loved it, and she went from never drinking to drinking much more, which was far better for her old ladycat kidneys.

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Artemisia » Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:10 am UTC

my 0.02 :

fountain = brilliant

scratching posts = absolute necessity to keep furniture in reasonable condition

play time = YES: laser, paper balls, boxes.

litter boxes = always 1 per cat + 1 extra. make sure they're in relatively quiet places so the cat is not disturbed when going.

dry food vs wet food vs RAW = high street dry food's in my opinion of poor quality with little meat in them. I like Sanabelle for that reason, also has a good range for sensitive cats. I do not spoil my cats with too much wet food though it helps their water intake, it's bad for the teeth. Sanabelle also do grain-free.
I like the idea behind RAW, but I'd be rubbish at the execution.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby SecondTalon » Sun Sep 20, 2015 2:45 pm UTC

The "wet food is bad for the teeth" thing for cats has almost entirely been debunked. Dogs might be different, I didn't look in to them.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:55 pm UTC

existential_elevator wrote: My (very blurry) understanding is that it's all about optimising taurine intake, and any foodstuffs not containing taurine are pretty useless for cats nutrition-wise.


Red bull, the perfect cat food!

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Artemisia » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:23 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:The "wet food is bad for the teeth" thing for cats has almost entirely been debunked. Dogs might be different, I didn't look in to them.

that sounds great! Do you have further reading available?
I happily stand corrected. Though I may not raise the frequency of wet food, it's still good to read their denture will be fine if I do choose to indulge them.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Chaoszerom » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:42 am UTC

Posting for egosearch. My family has a cat and a dog, and I don't think we take proper care of them, but I'm not sure what proper care looks like. Does anyone know of some general "so you just got a cat/dog" reading available anywhere?

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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:13 am UTC

There are loads of good basic pet care books available at your local library for free, and you can ask your vet for recommendations. Talk to your vet if you have specific concerns. Your pets shrould be getting a check up once a year, to update their rabies and FIV protection and to check for parasites like heartworm.
Most of the books I've seen at stores like Petsmart are ok as guides, if you don't have access to a library.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Sungura » Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:20 pm UTC

RAW feed: be very careful. It is difficult to balance a diet and make sure they get everything they require in it. Work with a vet. There are many Facebook groups for raw feeding that are wonderful resource. Most vets recommend, because of the difficulty, to reserve raw to cats who have lots of allergies.

Canned vs Kibble: there are pros and cons to each and people will fight to the death over it. Then the raw people will say theirs is the only way. In the end it's this: they need protein protein protein. Grain is filler. And watch grain free foods because most of the popular grain free diets use potato and other startch fillers which are equally bad. Generally considered highest quality is Orijin, a Canadian company but it's readily accessible in the U.S. As well at any quality store but you probably won't find it at your chain pet store. There are similar second tier versions as well but I can't recall offhand.

Play: play play play! They want to chase and capture things! Let them! ALL THE TOYS! and trees are good to. Cats are not bush dwellers they like to be up high. Look at your room layouts and see how they could get around not being on the ground and throw a cat tree in where needed. See if you can work a path around at least a majority of the main room you use that is off the ground. Sofa back to chair to top of bookcase to...you get the idea.

Training: everyone says cats aren't trainable. BULLSHIT. Cats just have more their own ideas of what they want to do than most dogs. Get 51 puppy tricks by Kyra Sundance. It's a kindle download too. Start training tricks! My kitty has her intermediate trick title and almost her advanced. She sit, stay, lie down, roll over, jump, hide in a box, spin, weave, sends out to the bathtub 20 ft away "take a bath" it's so funny xD I could go on. Video is here https://www.facebook.com/sunguramy/vide ... 573808827/ also you can look up the Facebook page for Sashimi the trick Bengal cat who works with ultimutts stunt dog (& cat!) show


Really anyone who wants to interact more with their pet (saw a question about dogs too), trick training is a great cheap way to do it. The books from Do More With Your Dog are easy to follow. And there are free spark groups on Facebook for the different trick levels. Even if you don't title them. If you have a dog and want to do more training, the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy is terrific online program. The home trainer popilatikn is growing with the Facebook groups for anything you want to train and lots of YouTube videos to boot. Please if you train look for +R / positive reinforcement / force free / clicker training. Despite what Cesar Milan created an empire on, his methods have been outdated and scientifically proven false for decades. In fact lots of vets and trainers tried to stop animal planet from doing his show but they saw money and didn't care.
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby existential_elevator » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:31 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:Cats are not bush dwellers they like to be up high.
It's worth adding a #notallcats to this, or at least a ymmv. my friend Catherine is a british shorthair, and she is both clumsy and very uncomfortable jumping or being off the ground. Don't think your cat is weird if they're not very good at the whole climbing thing, some of them really are just happier on the ground running about. For those cats - impromptu cave-like places are made of win. And - in case you want to make them an impromptu cat-cave, there's a nice tutorial at instructablesfor a DIY cat tent made from an old t-shirt and a hanger.

Honestly though, I have a few lower tables and things for my friend Catherine, and even though I put some safe routes in for her she really doesn't like being on my windowsill or any kind of ledge. The majority of cats I've ever known have loved climbing, but if it's not for your kitty it's not that weird. You'll get to figure out what kinds of things your cat likes as you go along and you get to know them, and I've found DIY toy making sites a good place to start before investing in anything my friend Catherine wouldn't really be interested in.

Sungura wrote:Training: everyone says cats aren't trainable. BULLSHIT.

Seconded here. my friend Catherine is in no way as trick advanced as Sungura's, but I taught her how to sit in a really short space of time (and she's retained it really well), and other basic commands, like 'come here' and stuff are both quite easy to train and pretty useful later on, especially at the vet. Again, different cats will have different aptitudes for training as the spectrum of intelligence is quite wide, and it will depend a lot on what motivates your cat as to how successful you're likely to be. Mine will do anything for food, so...

Chaoszerom wrote:Posting for egosearch. My family has a cat and a dog, and I don't think we take proper care of them, but I'm not sure what proper care looks like. Does anyone know of some general "so you just got a cat/dog" reading available anywhere?

Try the RSCPA website as a good first step. I have far more resources to hand for cats I'm afraid, there's also Cats Protection who have some good leaflets online
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby PolakoVoador » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:30 pm UTC

Sungura wrote: Play: play play play! They want to chase and capture things! Let them! ALL THE TOYS! and trees are good to. Cats are not bush dwellers they like to be up high. Look at your room layouts and see how they could get around not being on the ground and throw a cat tree in where needed. See if you can work a path around at least a majority of the main room you use that is off the ground. Sofa back to chair to top of bookcase to...you get the idea.


Except when they are!

Some cats are indeed bush dwellers and will like lots of hide places. My girlfriend's cat is one of those: he hides under beds, under the sofa, under the table, etc. Before you buy any furniture to accomodate your cat, try to understand their needs.

EDIT: Ninja'ed by existential_elevator. For some reason I only read from the "training" part of the post, my bad.

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Sungura
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Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Sungura » Sat Sep 26, 2015 2:01 am UTC

Good point. Sorry. I forgot there are some that are more bushy :)
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Obby
Posts: 785
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:37 pm UTC
Location: Philadelphia

Re: Cat Care (II?)

Postby Obby » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:17 pm UTC

RE: Wet vs. dry food.

We feed our two cats both. We do a quarter of a 6 oz. can of wet per cat each morning, then a quarter cup of dry grain-free kibble in the evening for each cat's dinner. We also have one of those uber-quiet electric fountains in the living room for them that they both love. See what they like more.

Unfortunately we can't leave food out for our cats throughout the day. Our one cat is a grazer and will do just fine with it if we leave food out, but the other cat is a vacuum cleaner and will eat just about anything that fits in his mouth, regardless of what time of day it is or when he last ate. When we first got him he would eat so much he would puke and then go back and eat more until he puked again (that's how we figured out not to leave food out...). He tears through the garbage can like a dog if we aren't careful.
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