Cat Integration: Thwarting a Cat Burglar

Just when we were congratulating ourselves on how well our cat integration solutions have been working, Calamity decided to throw a wrench into the gears. If you’ve been following along with us for awhile, you may recall our post about our complicated cat feeding situation that involved procuring a microchip enabled feeder so that DJ’s cats could continue to free feed while my Bengals continued their timed meal drops from an automatic feeder (because one of Mochi’s life ambitions is to be as rotund as possible).

Calamity recently decided that despite the free access to her fully stocked microchip-enabled food bowl, the Bengal’s automatic feeder was somehow a more attractive option.

We caught her stealing from it once in person and needed to figure out if it was a fluke or a habit. Fortunately, we have a motion detecting camera aimed at the automatic feeder. This is mostly for my peace of mind so that I can quickly know if it malfunctions and stops dropping food. It records and stores as much activity as the data card allows, auto deleting the oldest stuff to make way for the new and recording a timestamped alert whenever it detects motion.

Close review of the alerts in the camera’s app on my phone showed us that she had indeed been thieving from the Bengals’ limited meal drops multiple times a day for at least a few days. As an interim solution, I added extra food to the daily drops to help compensate for the extra cat while we puzzled out a more long term solution. We knew the only way to solve the dilemma would be to physically separate the Bengals’ feeder from the Maine Coons, it was just a matter of deciding on location.

We considered several options before finally landing on the laundry room as the best balance between convenience for us and comfort for the Bengals. Unfortunately, it required the purchase and install of yet another SureFlap Microchip Cat Door (we have a post about those if you missed it), but now we can rest easy knowing that Mika and Mochi are not being shortchanged on their meals. We also switched our laundry detergent to something more natural and scent free to keep the room as fume free as possible. We tend to only do laundry about one day per week, maybe two, but since it’s a small space and door now has to stay closed most of the time we wanted it to be as cat safe a location as possible, not putting their little kitty lungs or food at risk of chemical contamination. The bonus of being more eco friendly in our product consumption is a positive side effect of the new arrangement.

Mika and Mochi have adapted very quickly, though sometimes they will run into the dining room first out of habit when they hear their food drop. Cali, however, is rather displeased at the change. She’s not keen on having a cat door she can’t access. Maybe it will help her build empathy for the Bengals, who cannot use her special doors either.

Nah. Seems unlikely.

In the end, even without food thievery, we think this is probably a less stressful arrangement for all the cats. Dedicated, separate eating spaces takes the anxiety out of meal time and ensures everyone gets their fair share. Now if only Calamity would stop growling at her new sisters whenever they walk by her….

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