Anyhow, Arthur's still eating in small fits and starts, but here's the rub: he really wants dry food rather than wet! I feel like all of the feeding sins we committed with Arthur and Beowulf are coming back to haunt us.
For those unfamiliar with our whole cat life, I'll list the sins:
- Feeding Mostly Dry Food: We used to feed wet food a lot, honest! For the time Arthur and Beowulf were kittens until they were about 3 years old, our feeding schedule was to open up a 3 oz can of wet food in the morning, wait 30 min for them to eat (or not eat) some, then put down a couple of 1/4 cup scoops of dry food that would sit there all day for them, and then do the same can + dry food routine in the evening.
Where did we go wrong? Over time, they slowly stopped having any interest at all in the wet food so we were basically throwing out a couple of cans of food a day. We tried every type of canned food you can imagine: Wellness, Merrick, Weruva, California Natural, Newman's Own, Spot's Stew, Blue Buffalo, Abady, Felidae, Eagle Pack, Evolve, Wysong, Fromm, Innova, Nature's Variety, and many more. We tried THEM ALL, almost every flavor. The only food they would sometimes eat was Solid Gold Blended tuna.
I suppose we could have refused to feed them dry food at all, but our worry was that they would just stop eating and end up sick (like Arthur is now).
So after a while, we cut back on the wet food cans they were refusing to eat and we started to just feed dry food, but a high-quality, high-protein type. We alternated between Solid Gold Indigo Moon and California Natural Chicken and Brown Rice. Solid Gold Tuna cans became a once-a-week treat.
- Free Feeding: So the other problem, even with the dry food, was that they never ate it all at once. Arthur and Beowulf would eat a little bit of their portion and then leave some. We would let it sit in the bowls as they would come back again and again at random throughout the day to eat.
In Beowulf's case, we would always see him eat a good portion of his food at the time we put it in the bowl, but in Arthur's case, he would often eat later when nobody was watching. In fact, if we walked into the kitchen while he was eating, he might stop what he was doing and want to rub up against us instead of eating.
- Feeding on-demand: We have a rough schedule of feeding at 7 am and 7 pm (give or take an hour), but throughout the evening, Beowulf frequently demands fresh food. How does he demand it? He'll start meowing at us very loudly and the more we ignore him, the more wild he gets. He'll start jumping on the dining room table he knows he's not allowed on and he'll escalate to attempting to knock over a lamp. The way to silence him? Go in the kitchen and dispense food for him.
The problem here: We completely LOST TRACK of how much Beowulf was eating and Arthur was eating. A lot of dry food was/is actually wasted b/c they don't eat it all and demand we give "fresh from the bag" food
The strange thing about Beowulf's behavior is that there might be plenty of food in the bowl, but he wants me (primarily me, not Liz) to come into the kitchen and dispense fresh kibble for him straight from the bag. The bowl could be filled up, but he only wants the freshly dispensed kibble. One exception: sometimes, all he wants is for me to follow him into the kitchen (where the bowls are) and watch him eat the kibble that is already there. The key element,I guess, is my watching.
Unlike Beowulf, Arthur rarely asks for food on his own, even when he is healthy. When he was healthy, he would follow Beowulf into the kitchen when I do a scheduled (morning or evening) feeding and he might have a few bites of kibble then or he might just walk away and come back later to eat when nobody was looking.
So what's happening now? I think Arthur wants a return to normalcy, the normalcy where he sneaks in there and eats dry food and we have no idea how much or little he is eating. That's not good.
When we first got the tube put in the other week, he had no interest in the dry food we left for his brother and we got him to eat an ounce here and there of wet food (usually Solid Gold Tuna). Now, he is opposed to the wet food (won't eat it) and is sneaking in and grabbing some kibble and eating it, but we're having a hard time measuring the calories and knowing how much he ate versus how much Beowulf ate and, considering we never knew the exact amount they were fed, now we're really confused.
I tried on-schedule feeding Arthur 1/4 cup of dry food (an ounce) today and he was very interested in eating it, but in the end, had maybe 1/8 of an ounce of food, not enough to count against his tube feeding. And for him to eat that, I had to drop some bonito flakes in the bowl.
The irony of all this is that Arthur is now becoming assertive about leading us into the kitchen and "asking" for food, but in the end, he is primarily rubbing his cheeks on the bowl and rolling over for a belly rub (for some reason, he has always liked to be petted and rubbed in front of the food bowls). So the tube feeding continues, but we're confused.
I don't want either of the boys to stay on an all-dry, free-feeding diet, but I don't want to do anything that discourages Arthur (or even Beowulf) from eating. Advice please.