My mother insists on maintaining four feeding locations for her cats, despite family members pointing out the bizarre nature of her behavior and the obvious ill effects on her cats' health, . Rather than feed them once a day, she maintains four perpetually filled food and water bowls in both her bedrooms, her kitchen and on her porch. What can we do? Would it be OK to tell her vet, etc?


thats not ok, she is only hurting the cats, she is feeding them too much, tell her it can cause health problems to her cats by over feeding them. if she loves the cats then she will stop feeding them so much, plain and simple. really stress the health issue involved here

I assume her cats are over weight. If she has already been told of the ill effects on her cats, perhaps try a different track. See if you could find how why she feels the cats need so many feeding areas. A persons behavior will usually signify how we feel about ourselves. This may give insight to her feelings of herself.

Is it possible to get her to remove one of the feeders at a time, in order to show her that she could get by with 3? She would be stressing out, at first, I am sure, but if she can see that they are doing well with 3 feeders, she might be more able to see that she is overfeeding them.

Then, I would suggest later on, going down to 2, and so on.

I think I would only tell the vet if she was with me, or if she knew. I think it would be unfair to her, because she would take it as you being in her business...she of course, does mean well for the cats, but she is overdoing it. You know how people get addicted to things is similar to this...its like, "Well, one drink cant hurt..." then its two, three, four...

Did she have a rough childhood? Are the cats her only real visual means of comfort and solace to her?

If she is weaned off this habit, it is better than having her stop entirely cold, because she may not want to stop it if you just yank it out completely.

Also, see if there is a way you can get the cats a healthier kind of cat food, if she hasnt that may not be as "fattening" for the cats and may be healthier?

Best of luck and keep us posted...

I agree with syruz, it's a health issue. Also, cats that are healthy self-regulate--they stop eating when they are full. Overweight domestic cats have other problems, like not being able to go outside, so they are bored and/or don't get enough exercise. Your mother clearly has her issues too, and hasn't listened to you, so I'd say the underlying aspects have yet to be addressed. Do you know exactly why she does this? Does she think they are hungry? Did she experience going hungry in her life? Is she trying to keep them unhealthy? We all do things because we think they are good. Perhaps you could talk with your mother about her reasons from her perspective. What is the payoff for her here? A lot more info is needed to target the issue, which has to do both with the cats and your mother. At 74 years of age, are you clear that she's aware of what she's doing? Is she afraid she will forget to feed them? How is her cognitive ability these days? Don't overlook that it may be easier for you to see problems with the cats than with your mother's age.

And now my rant on dry food (warning those of you who don't want to read further about cat nutrition!). Dry food is very bad for the health of cats. To hold the pieces together, it's more than 40% carbohydrates. However, cats are obligate carnivores, and need diets high in protein, fat, and moisture, like their natural diet of raw meat. Canned food without byproducts or preservatives in the ingredients is the healthiest for cats (besides raw meat and supplement recipes). The dry food industry makes a lot of money off of saying it's good for their teeth, but rather than provides the rubbing and contact that their natural diet provides, the dry food "shatters" and is actually hard for their pointed teeth to break up (as well as them having to bite really hard). Their tongues are so rough that clean teeth is not a big problem. Once a year at the vet to scrape off any tartar, and they're good for their 10-16 years of life. Dry cat food isn't healthy, it's simply cheap and convenient. What do you think they have to do to keep meat fresh for months in a paper bag? Unnaturally dry it and spray rancid oils on it. Nothing much worse you can do for your cat, and a high contributor to kidney disease, one of the top causes of death in cats, as drinking water separately doesn't make up for the moisture they need. I don't see the overeating dysfunction as much with wet food, whereas with dry food I've seen much more addictive behavior.

How is she now? Perhaps she just wants to make sure they are fed, and tends to forget if she fed them or not?

As these cats are obese, this may not apply so much, but my vet told me to put bowls in several locations of the house to encourage our indoor cats to hunt for their food like they would in the outdoors. She said it would be good for them. Perhaps this poor old lady is following vet advice too? And maybe the cats are eating too much but not keeping her awake at night yowling??? My husband would rather have bigger cats that keep him undisturbed in the night. Perhaps this lady feels the same.