A Cat-Astrophe

AnnabelShay

So we have a bit of a cat problem, and I was hoping to post it on the interwebs to see if anyone has advice.

Shay (the cat in the bottom part of the tree above), a.k.a. Mr. Awesome, is our Dennis the Menace cat. He loves food–particularly Annabel’s food.

He also had stomach problems. We aren’t really sure whether it’s a food sensitivity issue, or some kind of inflammatory bowel problem. He throws up whenever he eats the food we give Annabel. We’ve switched him to a limited-ingredient diet, which has helped a lot.

Annabel, on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum. When she was diagnosed with kidney disease back in 2013, she lost a lot of weight very rapidly. The vets had her on a kidney formula food at first, but she just didn’t seem to be eating enough of it. I finally found a wet food she really likes, and I’ve stuck with it for about a year now. Both her weight and kidney values have been stable for quite some time.

If we feed Annabel and Shay together, Shay will eat Annabel’s food. Not only will it result in Annabel not getting enough to eat, but it will make Shay sick.

When we’re at home, we solve this problem by shutting the door between the two of them. Annabel is a grazer, so she sometimes needs a little more time to finish her food. We wait until she’s done to open the door again.

But we’re going on vacation next week. The cat sitter only visits twice a day, so we don’t want him to leave Annabel shut in the bedroom all day long.

We actually considered a shock collar. We didn’t know it was a shock collar until we took it out of the box and looked at it. It was this horrible, bulky looking thing with two electrodes that would dig into the animal’s skin. The instructions had dire warnings against letting the animal wear it for longer than 12 hours at a time (How can you adequately train an animal if he only wears the collar half the time?) and to watch to make sure the animal’s skin doesn’t get burned. After trying it a few times on our own hands–it HURT!–we decided it was too cruel for Shay. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I’d put that collar on him.

But it does leave us with a dilemma. So how do we prevent one cat from getting at a bowl of food while allowing the other to go there freely? We’ve considered switching Annabel’s food, but I’m fearful that she won’t like it and she’ll start losing weight again. Plus, even when Shay and Annabel were both eating the same brand of food, Shay was still going after Annabel’s portion.

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