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Old April 27th, 2011, 05:45 PM
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Question Food for Senior Cat with long history of crystals in his urine

Sam as some of you know is my oldest cat at 13 3/4 years. As well as having crystals he is also very fat. I am looking to the cat food gurus for a solution to my problem. Sam has had a history of crystals since he was 8 or 9 yrs old and has had some very close calls when he's had them block his urinary tract. After being on Hill's SD kibble for almost a year (I and my vet know it is not recommended for long term use) his urine finally cleared and it looked like we had found the answer in Royal Canin Urinary SO kibble. Sam will not touch the canned food of either prescription brand so it's a waste of time and money to try him with it again. Recently he has been eating a lot of canned food as well as his SO and getting fatter. (He does love to eat and with 4 cats there is no shortage of food around). The SO is now becoming prohibitively expensive and I"m looking for an alternative in the health food stores like Global Pet Foods for something that will keep his crystals under control (he still has regular bouts with them about 3X a year. I have one of my other cats on a special diet as well he eats Merrick Grammy's Pot Pie exclusively. The others eat a mixture of canned and dry, the dry only because I can leave it out for hungry cats during the day.

Though the SO has been very effective controlling his crystals, I am looking for a dry food to replace the SO before I finish this bag. Does anyone have any idea if there are any foods available with the properties that effectively reduce the formation of urinary crystals ?

I know that canned food would be better for him but if I don't offer him his SO he eats the kibble the others are eating. They all like the SO and that is why it is becoming prohibitively expensive and the one on the Grammy's Pot Pie also eats the SO and then vomits immediately afterwards so I don't want to use it at all if I can find something else .

I also hesitate to change him because for some reason he has not developed CRF and my vet is totally surprised that he is still alive with the severity of some of his relapses. So I have to weigh that too.

Thanks for any ideas you may have
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Old April 27th, 2011, 09:56 PM
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You may not like what I have to say, but I'm gonna say it anyway:

It's absolutely crucial that you ditch the dry. It has no place within a 10km radius of a cat with urinary tract issues. Doesn't matter what kind it is or who makes it or how much you pay for it, there is no such thing as a good dry for cats, but even more so in the case of a cat that's overweight and prone to crystals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
The others eat a mixture of canned and dry, the dry only because I can leave it out for hungry cats during the day.
What about leaving wet food out instead? Or getting timed feeders so they can have a wet food snack in the middle of the day? It's also not the end of the world if your cats get a bit hungry for a few hours. The only way you're going to get some weight off your fat guy will be if you stop the kibble free-for-all.

You've probably already read these links but it might be a good idea to give them a refresher:

http://www.catinfo.org/?link=urinarytracthealth
http://www.catinfo.org/?link=felineobesity
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Old April 28th, 2011, 03:14 PM
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Thanks SCM for the information and the links. I know that canned is much better for him than dry especially when urinary crystals are a problem. The problem is we tried that when he first showed signs of crystals. All cats were changed to wet food only. At the time it was a very expensive undertaking but I did it. The problem came when it did nothing for his crystals and he became sicker with wet food only and almost died from one bout. (he had been on wet food only for 3 months with blood in his urine constantly when he had the severe bout)

At that time the reason I had switched to canned for all of them all the time was he wouldn't touch any of the prescription food, wet or dry so we went to a high quality wet. (it's at least 5 years ago and I don't remember which one). When he almost died and needed hospitalization for several days to clear him, we tried the prescription food again and this time he ate the dry but would have nothing to do with the wet. So I put the others back on a mixture of dry and wet and they were happier with that because they could eat whenever they wanted with the wet given twice a day until they were full.

I then agreed to try him on the prescription dry because he would eat it and was fine for several years until I introduced the high quality regular wet food again and he started having occasional bouts of crystals with blood in his urine and needing medication to clear his urinary tract.

So we are now at the point where I want to give him a diet totally made up of wet food but I wanted to know a dry food for the transition period that would be somewhat equivalent to the Royal Canin SO. I also have to find a wet food that doesn't cause an increase in his bouts of crystals as the one I'm using... Merrick... is not keeping him totally clear. He has been eating dry food for the better part of his life and the SO has definitely made a difference in his urinary tract disease. He also does not adjust well to new foods including refusing to eat and crying all day for food. I know he can stand to go without food as he is fat but he takes it into several days without food and that is also not healthy for him. I have tried giving him fish straight out of the can and he doesn't like the taste of it.

So again I ask is there a high quality dry food that might be somewhat comparable to his Royal Canin SO and a high quality wet food that is also recommended for cats with urinary crystals. I can find several in a google search but I wanted to know if anyone has experience with them.

Thanks
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Old April 28th, 2011, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
(it's at least 5 years ago and I don't remember which one).
Some canned foods are better than others, so it's too bad that you don't remember the brand. It could be a clue to what's triggering the crystals. For instance, fish is a no-no for cats with UT issues since it contains histamines that can promote inflammation of the bladder/urinary tract. And some canned foods still contain too much carb content or other inappropriate ingredients that promote crystal formation.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
I then agreed to try him on the prescription dry because he would eat it and was fine for several years until I introduced the high quality regular wet food again and he started having occasional bouts of crystals with blood in his urine and needing medication to clear his urinary tract.
Do you remember what the wet food was then? What medication does he take during those incidents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
I also have to find a wet food that doesn't cause an increase in his bouts of crystals as the one I'm using... Merrick... is not keeping him totally clear.
Do you know what type of crystals Sam is prone to? Struvite? Calcium Oxalate? Something else? This will help determine if there's a food that will help, or if there are supplements he should also be taking. For instance, some cats, even on a species appropriate diet, can't maintain a normal urine ph and need an acidifier added to their food to help keep it within range. When urine isn't acidic enough (consistently above 7.0), then struvite crystals tend to form. If urine is too acidic (consistently below 5.5), then calcium oxalate crystals can form. My suggestion would be to start monitoring Sam's urine ph at home, using test strips from a health food store. Ph can fluctuate throughout the day, so test at different times on different days to see what the trends are. If you need tips on getting a urine sample, let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
He has been eating dry food for the better part of his life and the SO has definitely made a difference in his urinary tract disease.
That's because it contains an acidifier to compensate for the tendency of cats eating high-carb kibble to have alkaline urine. It's kind of like adding anti-oxidants to cigarettes with the idea that they'll help prevent lung-cancer, when really, the solution is to stop smoking.

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Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
He also does not adjust well to new foods including refusing to eat and crying all day for food.
Not that unusual. Cats have a built-in suspicion of new foods as a defense mechanism to ingesting something toxic. This can be overcome, with patience and VERY gradual transitions (sometimes even taking several months).

Another part of the problem is that kibble is loaded with flavour enhancers in order to get your cat addicted to these poor quality foods. Pet food manufacturers make the biggest profit from dry food. They want your cat to love it so much that they don't want to eat anything else.

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Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
I know he can stand to go without food as he is fat but he takes it into several days without food and that is also not healthy for him.
Definitely not healthy. Quite dangerous, in fact. There are better and easier ways to switch foods, some tips which you can find here: http://www.catinfo.org/docs/Tips%20f...%201-14-11.pdf

Also watch these excellent videos by a vet for suggestions on how to convert kibble addicts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZv0P...embedded#at=28
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NWXk...embedded#at=32

You can also use the kibble addiction to your advantage. By pulverizing it and sprinkling it on top of canned food, you can entice Sam into trying new foods. Once he gets used to the different smell and texture, you can decrease the amount of powdered dry on top.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
I have tried giving him fish straight out of the can and he doesn't like the taste of it.
Smart boy. I'd stay far away from fish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
So again I ask is there a high quality dry food that might be somewhat comparable to his Royal Canin SO
There really is no such thing. For one, "high quality" and "dry food" are oxymorons. Instead of trying to find something else for the interim, I would just convert Sam over to wet food using the SO until you can eventually eliminate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
and a high quality wet food that is also recommended for cats with urinary crystals. I can find several in a google search but I wanted to know if anyone has experience with them.
Any meat-based, fish-free, grain-free wet food with muscle meat instead of by-products would be a good choice. Adding extra water to the food is also recommended. You want to flush out those crystals if they do form. Monitoring urine ph and adding a measured amount of an acidifier (L-methionine for example) if needed will also help.
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Old April 29th, 2011, 07:21 AM
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You can also add a bit of water to the canned for his food to ensure he is getting enough water.

I feed my cats a combination of raw and canned and I warm up the raw by nuking a bit of water then adding the raw then mixing it with canned. this increases the water content of their food. I can tell you that there is no way crystals can form from all the peeing my kitties do . The down side of course it the amount of kitty litter you go through .
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Old May 1st, 2011, 04:19 PM
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Sorry for the delay in answering your very helpful post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Some canned foods are better than others, so it's too bad that you don't remember the brand. It could be a clue to what's triggering the crystals. For instance, fish is a no-no for cats with UT issues since it contains histamines that can promote inflammation of the bladder/urinary tract. And some canned foods still contain too much carb content or other inappropriate ingredients that promote crystal formation.
The reason I don't remember is I was trying different foods with him and the others and I don't remember which particular one it was that made things a lot worse. He has always been a very large cat which my vets estimate of 20 lbs at ideal weight. Sam has weighed much more than that since his brother was killed by a car several years ago and I swear he eats to compensate for the loss even though he has 2 other males and a female cat here in the house. His last weight was 24.7 lbs which is way too fat but he eats out of everyone's bowl which makes it difficult to control. My vet has said to isolate him in a room by himself, but I think he would die if he was isolated as he is such a people cat so I have resisted this method of forcing him to lose weight.


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Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Do you remember what the wet food was then? What medication does he take during those incidents?

I wish I did remember the name of the food. The most recent food I tried was Wellness and all of the cats totally rejected it over a period of introducing it in very small amounts over a couple of weeks. They would eat around it.

Sam was given ampicillin as necessary when he had an infection but sent home with a prescription for "Buscopan" that I gave him when I saw that his urine was turning pink until it cleared again. He gave me trouble when I tried to give it to him when he didn't need it. If he needed it he would sit their quietly while I tossed it into the back of his throat.

Last year my vet switched him to "Phenoxybenzamine HCL" which didn't go over at all well. The first one he ate (it is soft and chewable) without a problem. The second one I had to smear that last half of it on his teeth to get him to eat it. After that it was a fight everytime I tried to give it to him to the point that if he saw the package he would hide and believe me trying to get a 20+ lb cat out of a hiding place is not easy. So I took him back to the vet and I asked her for the Buscopan again. She gave me a script for it that I had to fill at the drug store because it is no longer recommended for animals. She agreed that it was better to help him with a drug he would take than try to force him to take something he hated. So we have used the Buscopan as necessary since then and he has the same behaviour he did before, takes it easily when he knows he needs it and refuses it when he doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Do you know what type of crystals Sam is prone to? Struvite? Calcium Oxalate? Something else? This will help determine if there's a food that will help, or if there are supplements he should also be taking. For instance, some cats, even on a species appropriate diet, can't maintain a normal urine ph and need an acidifier added to their food to help keep it within range. When urine isn't acidic enough (consistently above 7.0), then struvite crystals tend to form. If urine is too acidic (consistently below 5.5), then calcium oxalate crystals can form. My suggestion would be to start monitoring Sam's urine ph at home, using test strips from a health food store. Ph can fluctuate throughout the day, so test at different times on different days to see what the trends are. If you need tips on getting a urine sample, let me know.
Sam has Struvite crystals. I didn't know that about certain cats needing a urine acidifier but Sam may be one of them. It certainly would help him when I get him off the SO. I know about the changes in Ph throughout the day. I will pick some Ph strips up the next time I'm at the health food store.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
That's because it contains an acidifier to compensate for the tendency of cats eating high-carb kibble to have alkaline urine. It's kind of like adding anti-oxidants to cigarettes with the idea that they'll help prevent lung-cancer, when really, the solution is to stop smoking.
The ingredients of the SO are the following: Looking at the list I don't find it a particularly good food for any animal but it must do something because it has worked for Sam.

Ingredients
Chicken Meal, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavour, Soy Protein Isolate, Powdered Cellulose, Salt, Dried Egg Powder, Dried Brewer’s Yeast, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Sodium Bisulphate, Calcium Sulphate, Soybean Oil, Taurine, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Vitamins (DL-Alpha-Tocopherol [Source of Vitamin E], Niacin, Biotin, Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement and Vitamin D3 Supplement), Trace Minerals (Zinc Oxide, Zinc Proteinate, Ferrous Sulphate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulphate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate and Sodium Selenite) and Marigold Extract (Source of Lutein). Naturally Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract and Citric Acid. Approximately 292 kcal/cup, 386 kcal/100 g, 76 g/cup

Analysis table Amount
Crude Protein (g/1000 kcal) 89.4
Crude Fat (g/1000 kcal) 40.2
Crude Fibre (g/1000 kcal) 6.2
EPA/DHA (g/1000 kcal) 0.7

Minerals Amount
Calcium (g/1000 kcal) 2.3
Phosphorus (g/1000 kcal) 2.1
Magnesium (g/1000 kcal) 0.2
Sodium (g/1000 kcal) 3.5
Potassium (g/1000 kcal) 2.7
Other nutrients Amount
Taurine (g/1000 kcal) 1.0



Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Not that unusual. Cats have a built-in suspicion of new foods as a defense mechanism to ingesting something toxic. This can be overcome, with patience and VERY gradual transitions (sometimes even taking several months).

Another part of the problem is that kibble is loaded with flavour enhancers in order to get your cat addicted to these poor quality foods. Pet food manufacturers make the biggest profit from dry food. They want your cat to love it so much that they don't want to eat anything else.
I'm aware of the flavour enhancers in dry food. All of them definitely like their wet food but they also still like their dry no matter what it is. They tend to gravitate to the SO though which makes it very expensive to feed them at $75 per 8 kg bag incl tax. plus the wet food.

The problem comes when I'm trying to fatten Smokey up because of his digestive problems and weight loss. The only canned food that he is able to tolerate is Merrick's Grammy's Pot Pie or Turducken which he doesn't like as much. We still don't know why he's losing weight I need to have an xray done. It's hard to have one so skinny and the other so fat and try to get them fed appropriately when there are also 2 other cats in the house so far with no problems.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Definitely not healthy. Quite dangerous, in fact. There are better and easier ways to switch foods, some tips which you can find here: http://www.catinfo.org/docs/Tips%20f...%201-14-11.pdf

Also watch these excellent videos by a vet for suggestions on how to convert kibble addicts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZv0P...embedded#at=28
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NWXk...embedded#at=32
Thanks for those links. The videos are really great I have been introducing just a tiny bit of food (about 1/8th of a tsp) and mixing it into the old food but they seem to find it and eat around it. It is really weird that they can find it. If they accept the 1/8 then I move to 1/4 and so on. If they accept it at one point and refuse it at the next point I drop it back to the most recent amount they accepted. But that's when they refuse to eat it at all. This is what happened with the Wellness chicken. I even started them all over again with no Wellness in the dish for a couple of days and then started adding it again with the 1/8th tsp and they refused to eat any of their food until I gave them it without Wellness at all. This has happened with other foods as well but I persevered longer with Wellness because I knew it was good food. This was months before the Wellness recall.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
You can also use the kibble addiction to your advantage. By pulverizing it and sprinkling it on top of canned food, you can entice Sam into trying new foods. Once he gets used to the different smell and texture, you can decrease the amount of powdered dry on top.
Smart boy. I'd stay far away from fish.
That's a great idea...thanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
There really is no such thing. For one, "high quality" and "dry food" are oxymorons. Instead of trying to find something else for the interim, I would just convert Sam over to wet food using the SO until you can eventually eliminate it.
He likes all types of wet food (other than Wellness) so that isn't a problem. What I want to do is avoid any wet food that will make his crystals worse. They use to talk about the ash content of food all the time but I haven't heard that for a very long time. What I guess I need to know is what wet foods or types of wet foods to avoid. (like fish to start with)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Any meat-based, fish-free, grain-free wet food with muscle meat instead of by-products would be a good choice. Adding extra water to the food is also recommended. You want to flush out those crystals if they do form. Monitoring urine ph and adding a measured amount of an acidifier (L-methionine for example) if needed will also help.
Thanks for this it is a great starting point for choosing a wet food. Do I buy the L-methionine at a health food store or do pet food stores carry it?

Thanks so much SCM this is great I can now look into what foods meet his needs and buy some L-methionine as I don't suppose it can hurt him.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with both Smokey and Sam's feeding problems at the same time. I want Sam to drop some weight if at all possible and I really want Smokey to gain some weight. I haven't had him weighed lately but I know he's lighter than when he was last weighed.

Thanks both SCM and L4H for the suggestion to add water to their wet food. I do add water and they have bowls of water throughout the house that is changed regularly because Raggs needs fresh water available all the time.
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Old May 1st, 2011, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
My vet has said to isolate him in a room by himself, but I think he would die if he was isolated as he is such a people cat so I have resisted this method of forcing him to lose weight.
That's a ridiculous (and cruel) suggestion. Maybe he meant to isolate him while he's eating? Feeding set meals for everybody instead of free-feeding would be the best idea. One of my kitties is a total hoover and finishes before everyone else, so I have to police him during meal time but it's not that big a deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
After that it was a fight everytime I tried to give it to him to the point that if he saw the package he would hide
Ya, not worth the trauma to both of you. I went through a similar thing with Antirobe drops after Aztec had some teeth removed. I will never again give him such a horrible tasting med no matter what it's for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
They tend to gravitate to the SO though which makes it very expensive to feed them
It can actually be dangerous to feed urinary diets to "normal" cats that don't have a urine ph problem. They may end up with calcium oxalate crystals, which are much harder to get rid of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
The only canned food that he is able to tolerate is Merrick's Grammy's Pot Pie or Turducken which he doesn't like as much. We still don't know why he's losing weight I need to have an xray done.
Has he had blood work done recently? What other canned foods have you tried? Is a raw diet an option?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
What I want to do is avoid any wet food that will make his crystals worse. They use to talk about the ash content of food all the time but I haven't heard that for a very long time. What I guess I need to know is what wet foods or types of wet foods to avoid. (like fish to start with)
Ya, the ash thing is outdated thinking. It's really more about the moisture content and the propensity for certain foods to create acidic or alkaline urine. Meat protein = acidic, grainy carbs = alkaline (oversimplified).

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Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
Do I buy the L-methionine at a health food store or do pet food stores carry it?
Health food store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
buy some L-methionine as I don't suppose it can hurt him.
Make sure you monitor his urine ph though, cause if he gets too much L-methionine, or his urine is indeed acidic enough already, then you could end up with calcium oxalate issues instead. I'll find out what a reasonable starting dose of methionine is and get back to you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbg10 View Post
Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with both Smokey and Sam's feeding problems at the same time.
Meal times. No more free-feeding. And if you need to, maybe sneak Smokey into another room for an extra meal here and there. If Smokey can jump up somewhere that Sam can't get too, you could leave more wet food for him there. Is there a treat that Smokey really loves? Sprinkle that on top of his meals to encourage him to eat more. I always have freeze-dried chicken treats (PureBites or Halo Liv-a-Littles) on hand for just such a purpose.

Good luck! I know food issues can be challenging with cats.
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Old May 12th, 2011, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
That's a ridiculous (and cruel) suggestion. Maybe he meant to isolate him while he's eating? Feeding set meals for everybody instead of free-feeding would be the best idea. One of my kitties is a total hoover and finishes before everyone else, so I have to police him during meal time but it's not that big a deal.
I agree but she has suggested it more than once when she wants me to get a urine specimen. In most cases I feed them at set times for the wet food and monitor what they eat but I still leave the dry food out all the time for now because otherwise I have the other 2 cats bugging me until I put it out..



Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
It can actually be dangerous to feed urinary diets to "normal" cats that don't have a urine ph problem. They may end up with calcium oxalate crystals, which are much harder to get rid of.
yes I know it can be dangerous for them to go without food. Besides the expense I don't like the others getting the SO because of the calcium oxalate crystals and one of the other cats is a male.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Has he had blood work done recently? What other canned foods have you tried? Is a raw diet an option?
no blood work since the last ones I posted. I've tried several different Merrick ones including Before Grain beef (which definitely can't be fed alone), Canidae, Wellness, NV Instinct Lamb and NV Instinct chicken which went over like a lead balloon and the original favorite of all of them Fancy Feast variety pack which I stopped using over a year ago.



Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Make sure you monitor his urine ph though, cause if he gets too much L-methionine, or his urine is indeed acidic enough already, then you could end up with calcium oxalate issues instead. I'll find out what a reasonable starting dose of methionine is and get back to you.
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Meal times. No more free-feeding. And if you need to, maybe sneak Smokey into another room for an extra meal here and there. If Smokey can jump up somewhere that Sam can't get too, you could leave more wet food for him there. Is there a treat that Smokey really loves? Sprinkle that on top of his meals to encourage him to eat more. I always have freeze-dried chicken treats (PureBites or Halo Liv-a-Littles) on hand for just such a purpose.
Smokey likes his Merrick's Grammy's Pot Pie and will eat it over most other foods unless they are fish based. If fish he will eat it over all other foods. The only treat Smokey absolutely loves is catnip. There is no other treat I've found that gets his attention the way catnip does. Of course if I give him catnip I also have to add it to the other's food too.

I've started feeding only enough dry food they will eat in one sitting. Then I have to replenish their dishes before they can eat again. Then I offer them canned when I can watch them eat it. trying to get Sam to focus on the different canned foods I offer him. Unfortunately the others like fish and so does he, to the exclusion of all else. If I put a can out, he pushes the others out of the way to get at it. He is boss cat and they recognize it. I have to be right on top of him to make sure the others get their share. No matter what I offer them, Sam likes the cat food I've bought for the others, as if he knew that they were getting something better than he is. So I have to find a way around his dominant behaviour.

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll go through the list of foods available at the pet store again and see what good ones I've missed.
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Willing Slave to: Sam 17 yrs; Bailey 14 yrs; and Smokey 10 yrs.
R.I.P. Raggs 1997-2012 ; Pepper 1997-2009 ; Tiger 2000 - 2014;
"Please do not breed or buy while shelter pets are left to die"
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