… is the other cats' torture.
So, with great thanks to some friends and their cat who was afraid of the thing, I've been able to test-drive a Surefeed Pet Feeder. I might jinx things by saying it, but: This thing may save my sanity.
Smudge recently took to driving me completely mad by getting serious munchies a few times throughout the night. Because Smudge is 19, I try to let her eat as often as she wants to eat, because keeping an older cat's weight up is like 90% of the health battle. And of course I can't just leave Smudge's food out all the time, because the Oranges actively compete for the privilege of eating EVERYTHING so fast that one can barf before the other.
Orange 1 and Orange 2. (freeimages.com/Viktors Kozers)
Not wanting to jump out of bed every time Smudge wanted food, I started to keep an insulated lunch bag with some of her food & an ice pack in it. So every time she gave the "hunting for food" signal, I would just unzip the lunch bag, give her the food on the nightstand, and stay just awake enough to keep the oranges away. They're typically happy to be asleep during these episodes, so generally don't go to bother her food unless she walks away and I fall completely back to sleep. So far, that's been ok, but having creatures wake me up a few times in the night is sub-optimal as my brain is still recovering from getting whacked with a steering wheel, even if I do fall asleep again very quickly.
So, enter the microchip pet feeder concept.
I've hesitated to buy something like this on my own, because being a cat owner I'm familiar with the experience of buying a very cool thing and having cats completely ignore it – or be afraid of it, as happened with my friends' cat. Yeah, there's often return-ability, but in this case, the thing is not comparable to love, sometimes it's better to have never tried it at all rather than tried and lost. So when my friend said she had one that wasn't in use, I was thrilled.
I am pleased to report that Smudge appears to have taken to it very very very well. We spent some time in training, then I set it up with a microchip tag (Smudge isn't chipped, it was a lot less common 19 years ago. Of course, the Oranges are.). It was ridiculously easy, and I'm working on it being the place she gets all her food, not just the nighttime munchies.
Smudge has needed some reminding of where the food is, in these early stages. When the flap's closed, she can't smell the food, and it doesn't open until she gets within a certain range. But she really seems to be getting the gist of it, leaning in to smell if there's food in that area, then getting a surprise as the flap lifts right in front of her. It's delightful to watch.
Also delightful, but not quite so much, is watching the Oranges go to sniff the bowl after Smudge has vacated – and having the lid close right in front of them. It's just pure joy. :D
We're still working on it, so I haven't had a completely uninterrupted night yet. But it's really nice that I don't have to half-asleep defend against Oranges as Smudge stuffs her face. I think once she really "gets it," she'll just go straight for the bowl, and skip the "Mom? I'm hungry," mrrrrowl altogether.
Video posted below for illustrative purposes, no kickbacks going on behind the scenes here. I do like the thing and it appears to be the solution to my Smudge food problem.
author / artist rambles on about painting, writing, cats, punk rock, vampires, ska-core, mTBI, comics, and life in general.