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Rescued Cat Scrounging?

CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りのRegistered User regular
edited July 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
About 10-11 months ago, my gf and I were walking along the road and found what became our current cat. After confirming the she wasn't owned nearby, we took her home, bathed her, and have been caring for her ever since (the vet reckons she's a little over a year old now, when we found her maybe 5 months). She's pretty friendly and only occasionally gets a bit too bitey/scratchy when playing.

But something we've noticed for a while now is how she seems to be constantly scrounging for food, even after eating. We've caught her on the kitchen counter/in the sink several times scrounging for scraps (there usually isn't any, but it smells like food), and last night she actually started eating a single, silicon muffin cup after we washed it (we used it for our packed lunches yesterday). And then, not a half hour later, I caught her in the sink scrounging again! Of course, when she's discovered she runs away and hides, but it's really worrying that she's always hungry. She's fed 3 times a day - each time is a spoonful of adult Science Diet and a half tin of wet food. Before bed, we give her a toy to play with that's got another spoonful of food in it (plus these Greenies treats we give her twice a day to help with cat breath). This past weekend, we tried giving her the day's allotment of dry food all at once in the morning so she could maybe graze throughout the day, but she just horked it all down as fast as she could. Surely we're giving her enough food, right? She weighed about 3.9kg (~8.6 lbs) the other week at the vet. And she's not pregnant, as we fixed her after we found her.

Is it something behavioral that just cannot be corrected?

Thanks for the help!

工事中
Cokebotle on

Posts

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    Did you ask the vet about it when you were there? What does her build look like? Is she skinny, or does she seem pretty healthy?

    One of our cats used to just eat and eat, and kept getting skinnier because her kidneys were going (she was super-old, though). I really doubt it's the case with your cat, though; it's probably just a psychological thing, like people who grew up in the depression not throwing away food or stashing cash around the house.

    Though, it would be helpful to see some pictures of her. Preferably playing with something.

  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Scrounging for food is something your was doing to survive before you found her, so it's going to be a strong habit for her. Until she's used to the idea that what she's being provided by you is enough food, she's going to eat what she can because that's what she had to do to stay alive prior to being in your home.

    This habit should go away over time, but in the meanwhile you'll have to manage it as best you can: make sure your sink & counters are well cleaned, don't leave out wrappers or containers that smell of food that the cat might hurt herself trying to eat, etc.


    If she seems underweight despite the diet, there might be a physical problem that really is causing her to be hungry when she shouldn't be. Parasites like tapeworms are a pretty common culprit, but I'm assuming your vet checked for that sort of thing when you took her in to get spayed?

    With Love and Courage
  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    We asked the vet before about it and they weren't particularly worried, but that was quite a few months ago after we just got her. We'll definitely check with the vet again next time we have to take her in, though. She's not particularly skinny, in fact she's pretty chubby. She's gotten a bit moreso recently in the winter time (Australia and their backwards weather >.<) as well.

    We use the Revolution ointment after washing her once a month for worms/parasites/fleas since usually we let her outside during the day, so it's probably not that.

    As for the counters, we've gotten pretty good about that for the most part, but she'll still try to lick the plates in the sink. Oh, and last night she started chewing at the 10lb rice bag we had on the floor, right in front of us. We packed it away immediately. >.<

    I would post pictures, but I'm at work right now, sorry. I can post some later this evening after I'm home. :P

    Sidenote: I read on some other sites about a trick involving place mats and sticky tape. You wrap the mats in tape, leave them on the counter, and the cat learns to not go up there eventually. Hm...

    工事中
  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    I wouldn't worry about it. Some cats are just greedy pigs, and will reach Jabba-esque proportions if you give them all the food they want. My old cat's entire life revolved around camping the fridge.

    If you're worried about feeding her enough but not too much, up to 30 calories per pound per day is the recommended amount for cats that age, less as they get older and lazier.

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  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    edited July 2012
    Hm... ok. We shall keep this in mind. Hopefully we luck out and the scrounging slowly dies out...

    In the meantime, here are pictures of the cat. You can see for yourself that she is a little on the chunky side >.<
    20120731_203147.jpg
    20120721_224152.jpg
    20120721_224913.jpg

    And her living up to her name, "Nibbler"
    20120731_204217.jpg

    Cokebotle on
    工事中
  • E.CoyoteE.Coyote Registered User regular
    Did the vet give her the de-worming pills? Sometimes they don't get all the little buggers in the first pass.

    Gonmun
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    also some cats just do that. our friends cat can break into the cupboard to steal chicken strips and will eat anything that isn't put away

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  • antheremantherem Registered User regular
    It's probably not a big deal, if they learn scrounging when young it's a difficult habit to break. I've got one that's the same way, had him for years and he still tries to eat whatever he can find, and there's nothing wrong with him. So we've just gotten really good at keeping the sink clean. (Not a vet so obviously there could be something going on with yours.)

    The positive flipside is that cats like this are incredibly food motivated so it's very easy to get them to go in the carrier or whatever, and if they're not eating you know something's wrong.

  • PantshandshakePantshandshake Registered User regular
    I'm going to echo some other folk in thread. Cats with no owners living outside, who suddenly become a person's cat, will always want more food. At least until they learn they don't need to scrounge anymore. I've seen that process take anywhere from several months to going on 2 years now with a friend's adopted cat. Also, I wouldn't give the cat all the food at once, unless you want to clean up cat vomit, and have a hungry cat around.

    Side note: That's a cute kitty. And you've got a lot of doilies in your house.

    Essee
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    We got our kitten at about (we think) 6 months old, and she was a city-street cat. She was the same way. She used to dig through the trash, try to eat food off our plates and even forks, tore through our trash bags, and was generally impossible. I didn't worry about it too much, because if you think about it, in that part of the city any kitty to whom a plastic bag is an obstacle probably isn't going to make it for too long. Also she smelled pretty bad.

    We're having some financial trouble at the moment, so we haven't been feeding our cats wet food, but we DO feed them Wellness Core dry food, which is pretty good. My husband also used to feed them kind of obsessively (uh oh, there's only 3/4 of the bowl left, better refill!), so there was always, always tons of food. The behavior stuck around for about 2-3 months, but it slowly died off as she came to realize that she didn't need to do that; there was always food around. Her coat also became a lot nicer and she stopped smelling like moving garbage, which was nice.

    Don't get me wrong, she's still a handful. She play-nips like a puppy, and if we are eating something that smells strongly of meat she's all up in our faces. Cats have a great sense of smell, and it's much, much better when they're hungry. My suspicion is that your cat is hanging onto the behavior because there is not always food available to her, combined with the possibility that maybe she's still growing and really doesn't have enough food, but I would talk to your vet because the way my husband was feeding is not really regarded as a good way to do things, and he's harder to break of it at this point than the cats are.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    PantshandshakeEssee
  • jwidemanjwideman Registered User
    Kitty looks just fine. If she was scrawny, or otherwise looked/acted sick, I'd worry. But scrounging is just something cats learn if they were homeless. Keep making sure she's well fed, don't overfeed, and don't leave any food unattended. Eventually she'll forget what it was like to starve.

  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    Ok, we'll definitely talk to the vet about it next time we go. We'll make extra efforts to food cleaned up and put away, as well. Thanks for all the help!

    As for the doilies, we're living with my gf's mom for now. We already have agreed that doilies will be forbidden in our place once we move out...

    As an aside: For those of you that have taken in stray cats, do you still let them outside occasionally or are they exclusively indoors now? If indoors-only, how did they cope with it after being free-range cats?

    工事中
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Indoor-only. The kitten really wants to go outside, but nope. She doesn't cry at the door or anything, we just have to watch when we go out because she's a darter.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    Cats that spent significant time as strays take a long, long time to break this habit. We adopted when I was young spent most of her life leaving us small birds and other carrion; now that I think about it she only stopped when she was like twelve years old and probably couldn't catch them anymore anyway.

    The only real thing would be to get her checked for stomach worms or other stuff that might be increasing her appetite.

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    do you lack faith, brother?
    or do you believe?
  • Chases Street DemonsChases Street Demons Registered User regular
    To echo what others have said; this is probably just a habit. My wife and I have a cat that was a stray, and two years after bringing her in she still eats until she gorges. She is the fattest, happiest cat you know.

    "Sometimes things aren't complicated," I said. "You just have to be willing to accept the absolute corruption of everybody involved."

  • PantshandshakePantshandshake Registered User regular
    As far as letting cats outside goes, I would say don't. But maybe all the horror stories from my wife (has worked for many vets) are giving me an unbiased view.

    And, good to know about the doilies.

  • CrumbCrumb Registered User
    ceres wrote: »
    we DO feed them Wellness Core dry food, which is pretty good.

    This should be highlighted a bit more. Cats require a higher protein rich diet than other household pets. That means they need a pretty good dry/wet food to make sure they are getting the amount of protein they need on a day-to-day basis. Wellness core is an awesome dry food and can often stop cats that previously gorged, threw up, and gorged again. You may find that your little kitty, who is seriously cute, will scrounge less often and actually eat less if you make a high quality dry food (such as wellness core) available at all times.

  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Crumb wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    we DO feed them Wellness Core dry food, which is pretty good.

    This should be highlighted a bit more. Cats require a higher protein rich diet than other household pets. That means they need a pretty good dry/wet food to make sure they are getting the amount of protein they need on a day-to-day basis. Wellness core is an awesome dry food and can often stop cats that previously gorged, threw up, and gorged again. You may find that your little kitty, who is seriously cute, will scrounge less often and actually eat less if you make a high quality dry food (such as wellness core) available at all times.

    Just to reiterate, I thought Science Diet was not a good cat food, because it had too much grain and not enough protein. This can lead to the cat being hungrier more often, because they aren't getting the protein they need. This random website seems to agree with me. Also @ceres, weren't you the one that was previously using Science Diet and decided to switch? At any rate, it's best to do a little research and get a high protein cat food. I will third the wellness recommendation.

    I also use this thingy to try and satsify some of our cats natural grazing tendencies. It probably does absolutely nothing in that regard, but it's hilarious to watch him eat every night. I think it's good to keep him stimulated.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    We got a rescue cat and we do 2 forkfulls of wet food a day and free feed of dry food. He loves the wet food to the point of hovering by the bowl at 8 am and 10 pm cause he just knows but he rarely ever finishes all his dry food. We aren't over feeding him since he hasn't gained any weight.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Also @ceres, weren't you the one that was previously using Science Diet and decided to switch?

    Nope, we were only feeding dry and switched to cans. But now we're broke and can't afford the wet, so we're back to dry again. I'd still rather feed them Wellness Core dry food than just about anything else, though. There are some other good brands out there, but our cats both like this one, so we're not going to mess with it as long as we can afford it.

    We actually used to feed our one cat whiskas pouches, which a) she never liked much and b) she got fat and lazy. About two weeks after we switched to the WC dry food she self-regulated better, had a noticeably healthier coat, and even had more energy. Not to mention the fact that she looked like she must have dropped a couple pounds of water weight.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    So I could not shake the memory of a thread about kitty food so I looked it up. This is the list of good/bad cat foods that I was thinking of. I have no idea how credible that list is, but I seem to recall it being pretty accurate when I was doing my own google research. And this is @ceres totally saying they used to buy science diet. The internet never forgets.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    That's interesting to hear about Science Diet. When talking with the vet once, I mentioned we feed it to her and he said it was basically the best there is (and, anecdotally, it helped clear up a friend's very mild allergy when they switched to it). That Wellness Core dry food sounds interesting, though. I'm not sure if that particular brand is sold here in Australia, but we might have to look into it and other cat food for research.
    As far as letting cats outside goes, I would say don't. But maybe all the horror stories from my wife (has worked for many vets) are giving me an unbiased view.

    And, good to know about the doilies.

    I agree with not letting the cat outside. I managed to convince my gf to not do it for now (the cat's had a bit of an upset stomach as of late >.<), although she's concerned the cat might get depressed/sad since we're both gone most of the day and her mom doesn't really play with her much. But after we move out, the cat may be forced to be indoors only so she'd need to adjust anyway. *shrug* Either way, we're probably going to spend part of the weekend building some cat toys for her off of Instructables (like this one).

    工事中
  • psyck0psyck0 Registered User regular
    Many cats are able to manage their own diet perfectly well if you feed them unlimited dry food plus wet food at regular mealtimes. That's what we've done with all of our cats (four now) and three of them have been fine on it. The last of them was a bit of a glutton, but he was also huge- underweight at 16 lbs when we got him- so we didn't have to limit his dry food very much. Your cat might scarf down all the dry food at once unless you give her a huge amount at first, but if she can get used to the idea that there is always dry food around she may break of her scrounging habit much faster as well. Of course, she might also just get really fat.

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  • SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    Good pet food can be a bit tough to find in regular stores. One important thing to remember is that words like premium, recommended and science means absolutely nothing. What you need to do is read the ingredient list. For dry food 32% protein is the norm (in the US). If you are lucky to find a brand with more than that, go for it. Top quality dry food approaches 50%. Other things to look out for is meat by product, especially if it's high in the ingredient list. The first ingredients should be meat and meat meals. In a lot of brands none of the first 3 ingredients come from the animal kingdom. Another thing to look for is gluten (veggie protein) free. If it's gluten free it means probably more of the 32-50% protein is actually from an animal.

    Izuela.png
    Essee
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    So I could not shake the memory of a thread about kitty food so I looked it up. This is the list of good/bad cat foods that I was thinking of. I have no idea how credible that list is, but I seem to recall it being pretty accurate when I was doing my own google research. And this is @ceres totally saying they used to buy science diet. The internet never forgets.

    Yeah, when our first cat was a kitten I did. I worked in a vet's office and could get it at cost.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • puffycowpuffycow Registered User regular
    Actually my local PetSmart started carrying a lot of the food you guys recommended to me in the mentioned thread a few posts above. I don't know if that's normal or not, though.

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  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    psyck0 wrote: »
    Many cats are able to manage their own diet perfectly well if you feed them unlimited dry food plus wet food at regular mealtimes. That's what we've done with all of our cats (four now) and three of them have been fine on it. The last of them was a bit of a glutton, but he was also huge- underweight at 16 lbs when we got him- so we didn't have to limit his dry food very much. Your cat might scarf down all the dry food at once unless you give her a huge amount at first, but if she can get used to the idea that there is always dry food around she may break of her scrounging habit much faster as well. Of course, she might also just get really fat.

    Yup, that's what we did. And we use EVO for our food.

  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    On outdoor versus indoor for any cat, it's a very controversial issue amongst cat owners and vets. Our cats are outdoor/indoor and one of them was a stray before we adopted her. When we first got her, my thinking was that if she wanted to go outside, we would let her, but wouldn't force her. She decided she wanted to go outside. That said, I would not let them go outside at all if we lived in an urban or heavy traffic area, or if they didn't seem to be able to understand that cars are dangerous as are other animals. Studies do show a lower life expectancy for outdoor kitties compared to indoor, but each pet owner has to make their own decision and consider the benefits (freedom, exercise) versus the risks (death, disease, getting lost).

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    mts wrote: »
    also some cats just do that. our friends cat can break into the cupboard to steal chicken strips and will eat anything that isn't put away

    Cokebotle's pictures inspired me to post this...
    10219_303472725435_2707245_n.jpg

    Because one of our cats looks eerily similar and has similar habits. He likes to scrounge a lot, but he's not usually looking for food. He likes to chew things, particularly things that are plasticy. Bags of rice? Bagged potatoes? Bread in a bag? All found on the floor at some point the last couple years with tooth marks all over. He chews hard candy for the crinkly plastic. He has eaten all of the Wii condoms we had.

    The vet has never been particularly concerned beyond "he's eating your shit," so it's annoying, but not a sign of poor health in his case. Possibly the same in yours?

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  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    mts wrote: »
    also some cats just do that. our friends cat can break into the cupboard to steal chicken strips and will eat anything that isn't put away

    Cokebotle's pictures inspired me to post this...
    10219_303472725435_2707245_n.jpg

    Because one of our cats looks eerily similar and has similar habits. He likes to scrounge a lot, but he's not usually looking for food. He likes to chew things, particularly things that are plasticy. Bags of rice? Bagged potatoes? Bread in a bag? All found on the floor at some point the last couple years with tooth marks all over. He chews hard candy for the crinkly plastic. He has eaten all of the Wii condoms we had.

    The vet has never been particularly concerned beyond "he's eating your shit," so it's annoying, but not a sign of poor health in his case. Possibly the same in yours?

    Yeah, maybe. (Cute cat!) We learned about the bread thing after accidentally leaving out a big bag of Costco rolls on the table >.<

    工事中
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