Furiosa’s Cat Feeder
December 21, 2016 10:12 AM   Subscribe

 
Good lord... if there wasn't video I'd call shenanigans on this. I have this exact feeder, and it's heavy and solidly built.

My cat has a method for getting extra food, too... staring at one of the weaker-willed people in my house (yes, me) and meowing incessantly until he gets a few extra nuggets. He's 17 lbs and could probably knock the thing over if he wanted to... but why?
posted by Huck500 at 10:19 AM on December 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


John Connor clearly picked wrong when he chose dogs to warn him of Terminators. Cats will see if they can get a paw up inside that metal skull and pick out food.
posted by chavenet at 10:21 AM on December 21, 2016 [16 favorites]


I truly admire all the effort (on both ends!) that went into this, but you could also get dry food the cat doesn't like that much. My guys would eat dry food over wet food if given the choice, but I get a brand of "healthy" (and apparently somewhat tasteless) dry food for them for emergency use when I have to work late. They only eat it if their wet food is gone and they're hungry. I enjoyed the blog post (especially the videos) immensely, so thanks for posting - truly best of the web.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:23 AM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


That was incredibly entertaining.
posted by Cranialtorque at 10:25 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


! I AM SHARING THIS WITH ALL OF THE CAT SERVANTS I KNOW!

Such determination on both their parts.
posted by mightshould at 10:26 AM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Chaplin thinks that if he can see the bottom of his dry food dish, we are obviously starving him, so he will meow his head off until one of us refills his dish.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:33 AM on December 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


John Connor clearly picked wrong when he chose dogs to warn him of Terminators. Cats will see if they can get a paw up inside that metal skull and pick out food.

Some cats. Mine would just rub on the legs of a Terminator and paw at them until she was petted, fed and watered. But if they were covered with couch-like material, she might slowly destroy them, picking at their corners and resulting stray threads.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on December 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


We had an auto feeder for about a month before our stubborn dog (who will do anything for food) managed to defeat it. He unscrewed the lid, found out that smacking it would cause more to dispense, so on and so forth. I definitely didn't hyper engineer it like this but it was getting close to that point that I gave up and just went back to dumping some in a bowl in regular intervals.
posted by msbutah at 10:35 AM on December 21, 2016


Steel walls with copper chute plus cat pee = a heck of a galvanic corrosion problem (and a really great smell, I'm sure).

Better install some sacrificial anodes stat.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


All of the cats would manage to find the one Terminator model that was allergic.
posted by Etrigan at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


So this guy spent half of a work week of effort, culminating in building a safe around a feeder, to prevent his cat from cadging a few extra bits of kibble from it. And the feeder has "really extensive programming options." One of which probably amounts to releasing a few less bits of kibble. When denied this trivial amount of extra food, the cat understandably escalated her efforts. Now, not only does the cat have to paw her food out from under his contraption, then jam her mouth into the small space he's allowed her, but he has to unbolt the top of the thing to fill it. Mr. should have let her have her fun.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes. Good kitty. Bide your time and defeat it.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:50 AM on December 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


Steel walls with copper chute plus cat pee = a heck of a galvanic corrosion problem (and a really great smell, I'm sure).

I think someone on HN made the same comment but the reply there was that there's no electrolyte. So I think it's OK until the cat starts peeing on it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:51 AM on December 21, 2016


Quinn Dunki is a woman.

As might be guessed from the "One Girl, One Laptop Productions" tag on the side, along with a picture of One Girl at One Laptop.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:52 AM on December 21, 2016 [46 favorites]


My cat got tired of trying to wake us up for food by petting us and has started sifting through the garbage. I think he might be related to this cat.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:52 AM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mr. should have let her have her fun

I think the woman running the blog might be a bit upset at your choice of gender pronoun. And according the article, the cat likes to overeat and then barf everywhere. So in this case fun != good times had by all.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:52 AM on December 21, 2016 [27 favorites]


Hacker Kitty is just doing a tear-down of this new device for her meowtube channel.
posted by skippyhacker at 10:56 AM on December 21, 2016 [27 favorites]


While the effort expended seems to have really exceeded the nature of the situation, I continue to be impressed with the problem solving abilities of cats.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:59 AM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


yea, barfing happens when my cats eat too much, too.
posted by zutalors! at 11:02 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


1. How is she going to get the dispenser and the bowl out to clean them? Food oils build up and turn rancid over time, not to mention cat saliva on the bowl.

2. For half the effort she surely could have built a DIY ball pit / bumper car ring / playpen and filled it with food-dispensing balls to bat around.

3. That cat is gorgeous and I would not be able to resist giving her anything she wanted.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:02 AM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


This was also kind of a littlle depressing for me to read too. Cats like problem solving and it's good for them but jesus, something about this gives me the heebie jeebies. Usually when I come upon a problem and it's taking way too long for me to solve it, that's a clue that I'm working on the wrong problem. At some point I would think maybe she's eating the wrong food or maybe this automatic feeder isn't doing the job. I would have also tried one of those dispenser ball things. My cat has one of those for her treats and she loves it. Well I don't know if she loves it but she knows that's where treats come from now instead of maowing at us relentlessly.
posted by bleep at 11:06 AM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


To be honest, I cared less about the writer than about the cat. I did not examine the rest of the website to glean details about its creator. I see that not only men can be somewhat cruel while justifying their actions as noble. Which I already knew, so my gender assumption was really unjustified. Also, there was no mention of barfingly-large amounts of food being gotten until well along in the contest of wills. Had the human not challenged the cat so directly, the escalation might not have happened.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:08 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be more efficient to build a steel box around the cat?
posted by phunniemee at 11:10 AM on December 21, 2016 [37 favorites]


I see that not only men can be somewhat cruel while justifying their actions as noble.

what part of this is cruel?

also, I'm jealous of her junk pile
posted by Dr. Twist at 11:10 AM on December 21, 2016 [21 favorites]


Wouldn't it be more efficient to build a steel box around the cat?

So you'd never be sure if it were eating too much food?
posted by brennen at 11:11 AM on December 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


what part of this is cruel?

The part where it's good to overfeed cats until they barf so how dare she.
posted by phunniemee at 11:12 AM on December 21, 2016 [29 favorites]


Cats enjoy having to work for their food; it makes them feel like predators bringing down prey.

I'd love to see the next hack for Sprocket cat be a feeding toy she's SUPPOSED to figure out how she can manipulate it.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:13 AM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Our cats are in the "reach up inside to shake food loose" phase, and act like it's our fault that it barely dispenses at mealtime since they've swiped all the food that was going to come out next... they also manage to push the dispenser all over the kitchen in the process.

One thing I was not prepared for is what happens if ants get into your house and find this giant food gold mine with a million convoluted nooks and crannies all up inside for the ants to stage their food retrieval operations... you'd notice a lot of ants around the dispenser but you don't realize just how many ants there could be inside. My god, so many.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2016 [25 favorites]


what part of this is cruel?

Making the cat shove her face into a restricted space to get at the food, and denying her a small victory over the machine.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Making the cat shove her face into a restricted space to get at the food, and denying her a small victory over the machine.

She gets a small victory over the restricted space instead, bro.
posted by phunniemee at 11:16 AM on December 21, 2016 [11 favorites]



Cats enjoy having to work for their food; it makes them feel like predators bringing down prey.


yes anytime I have food somewhere not in their bowls THE GAME IS AFOOT, basically.
posted by zutalors! at 11:17 AM on December 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Wouldn't it be more efficient to build a steel box around the cat?

So you'd never be sure if it were eating too much food?
posted by brennen at 11:11 AM on December 21 [+] [!]


No, the beauty of this solution is that the cat's size will be limited by the steel box, so it ultimately can't eat too much food.
posted by janey47 at 11:18 AM on December 21, 2016 [6 favorites]



One thing I was not prepared for is what happens if ants get into your house and find this giant food gold mine with a million convoluted nooks and crannies all up inside for the ants to stage their food retrieval operations... you'd notice a lot of ants around the dispenser but you don't realize just how many ants there could be inside. My god, so many.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:14 AM on December 21 [+] [!]



THANK YOU FOR MY FUTURE NIGHTMARES
posted by janey47 at 11:19 AM on December 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


I also have to wonder how many minutes of manual feeding this whole exercise saved the human, and how that compares with the 20 hours she spent. My cat is very appreciative when I feed him, and I would not want to give up that brief interaction.


She gets a small victory over the restricted space instead, bro.

I bet you don't have whiskers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:19 AM on December 21, 2016


You didn't like it. We get it.
posted by brennen at 11:24 AM on December 21, 2016 [36 favorites]


The comments section may have reached peak mansplaining with the "you did this wrong i read a wikipedia thing maybe."
posted by queensissy at 11:26 AM on December 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


Cats like small, enclosed spaces. Cats enjoy having to work for their meals. That cat seems happy and well cared-for and not in need of rescue by random strangers on the internet who are basing their opinions on one article and a handful of photos and short videos.
posted by Lexica at 11:30 AM on December 21, 2016 [27 favorites]


Toxoplasmosis is a helluva drug.
posted by Diablevert at 11:30 AM on December 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


The cat 1) gets fed breakfast with ceremony in the mornings, 2) has issues with food and does better when fed dinner via small amounts throughout the day, which due to lifestyle is only possible when done by machine, and 3) shouldn't have to wait to be fed when its owner is late coming home. The owner clearly enjoys the building aspect, and we can judge by her scrap pile builds things as a hobby at the minimum, and has a blog outlet to share this story with others. Building feeding machine armor solves the problem of the cat making itself sick by breaking into the machine while also keeping all the benefits of machine feeding. Plus she gets an interesting and entertaining story that you clearly didn't bother reading to share with others. Also plus she gets to outsmart a cat, something which few of us get to do.
posted by phunniemee at 11:32 AM on December 21, 2016 [75 favorites]


We had an auto feeder for about a month before our stubborn dog (who will do anything for food) managed to defeat it. He unscrewed the lid, found out that smacking it would cause more to dispense, so on and so forth. I definitely didn't hyper engineer it like this but it was getting close to that point that I gave up and just went back to dumping some in a bowl in regular intervals.

Dogs can be frighteningly good at physical puzzles like this. We gave ours one of those hollow Kongs that dispenses a kibble at a time to give her something to do, and it kept her occupied for a solid fifteen minutes the first few times, but then she learned that if, rather bopping it haphazardly, instead she kept it on its side with her paws and rolled it around, she could dispense with the whole business in about sixty seconds. Now it's really just a slightly more complicated way of feeding her.

One of my cats, meanwhile, perpetrates asymmetric warfare on the dog by unlatching the top of the plastic bin with the dog food and chowing down on it whenever we accidentally leave it unguarded. She also knows when a door is latched and will only pull on it from the bottom to leave a room if it isn't. At this point I'm mostly relying on inter-factional strife between the two camps to keep my skin, but if they ever throw off the shackles of false consciousness and join forces I assume our days are numbered.
posted by invitapriore at 11:32 AM on December 21, 2016 [15 favorites]


I would have also tried one of those dispenser ball things.

Yeah - good luck. It took maybe five minutes for my cats to figure that one out. You get it into a position where the food is close to the bottom, lined up with the hole, then you keep bumping it to knock a few pieces loose, eat and repeat. Might as well just scatter the food on the floor - it might take take longer.
posted by wotsac at 11:34 AM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Halfway through I was asking myself why he didn't just put the feeder high up out of cat reach with something to direct the food into the bowl, like a piece of plastic pipe.
posted by Pembquist at 11:36 AM on December 21, 2016


Wow, if ever there was a cat that should have a hundred kittens . . .

Maybe she could clone it.
posted by jamjam at 11:36 AM on December 21, 2016


All the assumption of the author being male in this thread despite the blatant female gender cues on the blog is fascinating. Maybe it should've been pink?

just put the feeder high up out of cat reach with something to direct the food into the bowl

>> out of cat reach

hahahahaha
posted by nicebookrack at 11:41 AM on December 21, 2016 [63 favorites]


No, the beauty of this solution is that the cat's size will be limited by the steel box, so it ultimately can't eat too much food.

You could also then open a lucrative sideline business in cuboid kitties.
posted by Quindar Beep at 11:43 AM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


just put the feeder high up out of cat reach with something to direct the food into the bowl

That's where I got to pretty quickly. I'd be really interested just how far away it would have to be for the cat to still understand which bit is doing the dispensing, even if the food appears much further away. But a metal box on the side would be more convenient than one on the floor either way.
posted by Brockles at 11:47 AM on December 21, 2016


Halfway through I was asking myself why he didn't just put the feeder high up out of cat reach

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

You ever seen a cat sitting on top of a two meter+ (6'7") tall door? That happens all the time just because a cat thought it would be a cool idea to sit on top of the door. Add food as a motivation? You MIGHT keep the cat out of the feeder if you were scrupulous about eliminating every possible spot the cat could attack it from, but you'd need a ladder to fill it and I wouldn't bet against the cat hurting themself trying.
posted by wotsac at 11:52 AM on December 21, 2016 [14 favorites]


Also plus she gets to outsmart a cat, something which few of us get to do.

Has she actually outsmarted Sprocket H.G. Shopcat (side note: A+++ cat name), or is she merely ahead on points at the time the article was written? Ms. Shopcat could have obtained a cutting torch by now...
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:54 AM on December 21, 2016 [28 favorites]


If I paid $130 for a feeder and had the extra junk and know-how, I could totally see myself doing something like this.

Based on the theme of the blog and the documentation of the process, it seemed pretty clear to me that this was as much done for the fun of it as it was about finding The Optimal Solution.
posted by schroedinger at 12:00 PM on December 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't it be more efficient to build a steel box around the cat?

So you'd never be sure if it were eating too much food?


Actually, as long as the steel box remains closed, the cat eats both too much and not enough food.
posted by The Bellman at 12:01 PM on December 21, 2016 [43 favorites]


This reminds me of the days when we had five Maine Coons. Wonderful and terrible times. They never grow up and mellow until they're elderly, are smarter than hell, are extremely athletic, and to be awake is to be ACTIVE. There were feats of strength and agility that both amazed and terrified.

My wife got an electric cat toy called The Manic Mouse for the Coons for Christmas. It had a motor in a big plastic mouse housing with a steel rod sticking out of it. The rod had a feathery toy attached to it by a string and it would move in random patterns which supposedly your average cat would not anticipate and therefore stay busy for a long period of time. The b.ox suggested it was "impossible to catch".

They all gathered to watch me assemble the thing, which was rather ominous. The smallest of these was our one female who weighed in at fourteen. The males were um...massive. They watched. It may have taken me ten minutes or so to get this all put together and batteries installed. Everything was working right and I set it down on the carpet, switched it on.

These guys had an odd notion of fun. Their play escalation slider went from kittenish to global thermonuclear warfare with only a fraction of an inch in between. All five watched this toy bobbing around and then, they all tried to catch and kill it. This impossible to catch toy was getting batted around no matter where the motor sent it. Finally our male alpha (Coons form prides, not unlike lions) hooked the toy firmly and slammed it to the carpet, bending the steel rod. He held it there. It was his and he was making sure it was dead. That action fried the motor. They all dispersed, ready to trash their way through the pile of discarded gift wrap that my wife sprinkled with catnip.

Never doubt the strength or creativity or sheer will of a cat. Never own more than a couple Maine Coons.
posted by Ber at 12:03 PM on December 21, 2016 [75 favorites]


You could also then open a lucrative sideline business in cuboid kitties.

The internet has come full circle cube!
posted by phunniemee at 12:04 PM on December 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


Food puzzles are wonderful enrichment activities for cats.
posted by amtho at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2016


Also: if you decide to try an automatic feeder and _don't_ want it to be regarded as a food puzzle, it needs to be impossible to crack from day 1. The fact that it was super easy for the cat to hack at first made it seem, to the cat, like she was supposed to keep trying to solve it; the lesson she learned is "mess with it enough and eventually it will give more food." It's a progression of difficulty, which is the essence of how you teach somebody creative problem solving.
posted by amtho at 12:11 PM on December 21, 2016 [28 favorites]


I also have to wonder how many minutes of manual feeding this whole exercise saved the human, and how that compares with the 20 hours she spent.

It's like no one here has ever used Linux
posted by beerperson at 12:13 PM on December 21, 2016 [81 favorites]


which is the essence of how you teach somebody creative problem solving.

Also this cat is now a motorcycle mechanic.
posted by GuyZero at 12:23 PM on December 21, 2016 [24 favorites]


I see no one here has ever gotten in the "okay I am a human at the top of the food chain and I am not going to be defeated by a goddamn 8 pound animal" headspace.

I could easily see me doing this to prove a point to my cats if I hadn't decided on a strategy of "just let the cats do whatever they want and save yourself the hassle."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:36 PM on December 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


I see no one here has ever gotten in the "okay I am a human at the top of the food chain and I am not going to be defeated by a goddamn 8 pound animal" headspace.

No one here? I for one am proud to proclaim victory over my cats. Especially when I put a shirt on one and he sits around like he still has dignity.
posted by zutalors! at 12:38 PM on December 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


Especially when I put a shirt on one and he sits around like he still has dignity.

Pics, etc.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:39 PM on December 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


I kind of want to see Quinn Dunki team up with Simone Giertz to make an utterly insane "cat proof" kibble dispenser.

Also, although I value Dunki's valiant cat-proofing efforts, is anyoneone else a tittle disappointed that "Furiosa's Cat Feeder" wasn't a prosthetic arm that could also dispense kibble (which would be very useful) or a giant tanker truck covered in armored sheeting and harpoon launchers that could also dispense kibble (called the Catrig, but not so useful)?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:56 PM on December 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


I think I would have just moved the feeder off the floor, and had it drop the food either directly or though a tube. Armor fabrication is fun, I suppose. Edit: As others have suggested.
posted by CaseyB at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2016


My kitties are very good at self-feeding but I know my girlfriend has considered an automated feeder for a while because she thinks the kitties are a little too chubby (which she blames on me for reasons I will never understand).

The problem is that when the food dish is half-empty they treat it like they're literally about to starve to death and they get super whiny (which is adorable) and then I have to feed them.

->joyceanmachine, not a shirt, but instead, cat defeated by Christmas scarf.
posted by Neronomius at 1:00 PM on December 21, 2016 [7 favorites]



I kind of want to see Quinn Dunki team up with Simone Giertz to make an utterly insane "cat proof" kibble dispenser.


I actually had to double-check to make sure this wasn't Simone Giertz's blog
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:03 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I actually had to double-checkink Giertz would have found a way to have a) more moving parts and b) a rubber hand that would get in the cat's way (with a return to the drawing board after hilarious hand dismemberment sequence). Also, possibly, a house boat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:07 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


My cat is the exact opposite of this. She leaves food in the bowl when the current semi-automatic food dispenser (aka toddler) puts more than her usual scoops.
posted by Joe Chip at 1:13 PM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Cats are in no way confined to the floor, putting the machine higher is just a short precursor to it being on the ground again.
posted by chiquitita at 1:15 PM on December 21, 2016 [15 favorites]


I see no one here has ever gotten in the "okay I am a human at the top of the food chain and I am not going to be defeated by a goddamn 8 pound animal" headspace.

I could easily see me doing this to prove a point to my cats if I hadn't decided on a strategy of "just let the cats do whatever they want and save yourself the hassle."
posted by Ghostride The Whip


My very first use of AskMe was a dug-in-on-principal attempt to crowdsource outsmarting a determined cat.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 1:15 PM on December 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


OMG I love how this starts out ...then ends with

APPROACH THE FOOD BOX
posted by odinsdream at 1:16 PM on December 21, 2016


Way too many photos of the cat food dispenser, way too few photos of the cat.

I'm also not convinced this is actually successful, since it was only posted today.

I think I would have just moved the feeder off the floor, and had it drop the food either directly or though a tube.

That's cool. You would probably have regretted this when the cat knocked the feeder onto your head, leading to both an expensive ER visit and an expensive replacement feeder, but I grant your youtube video would have been better.
posted by jeather at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


I used to store cat food in metal canisters on the kitchen bench. I thought they were too heavy to push HA HA HA HA. I knew something was wrong when I went down for breakfast and instead of racing me down the stairs the kitties were curiously all, no no, after you, we"ll just hang out here a moment.

It was like a tidal wave of cat crunchies across the kitchen floor.

So I'd like an automatic food dispenser but I feel like it I can see its future and it is grim.
posted by kitten magic at 1:37 PM on December 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


a giant tanker truck covered in armored sheeting and harpoon launchers that could also dispense kibble (called the Catrig, but not so useful)?

Should come with a catnip mouse as the war drummer. Witness meeeeeeeeeeee
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:37 PM on December 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


I also have to wonder how many minutes of manual feeding this whole exercise saved the human, and how that compares with the 20 hours she spent.

The point of these things is that you can stick to your cats feeding schedule without having to be home in time every single night.

Also, if you are tired or ill then cats at feeding time can be worse than small children.

This is how my cat hacks extra cat food out of our system. I am the weak point.
posted by srboisvert at 1:37 PM on December 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


Also, metalwork is fun.
posted by flaterik at 1:39 PM on December 21, 2016


So at the risk of ending up with a new site FAQ entry let me ask this:

I realize it's unhealthy to overfeed a cat, but is it unethical?

Like, what would actually happen if the cat just got all the food it wanted out of the machine? It would get fat, it might or might not stop overeating at some point, I guess it would have a shorter lifespan.

But from the cat's point of view, would this be so bad? Clearly the cat likes to eat. I'm not sure of there's any way to prove that a cat values a longer, healthier life over just getting the quick hit of eating whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

Or is the whole thing just about preventing cat barfing?
posted by GuyZero at 1:42 PM on December 21, 2016


Also, metalwork is fun.

Hence the absurd, but amusing solid steel birdhouse that she built.
posted by parallellines at 1:44 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cats have pretty sensitive digestive systems so overfeeding is bad. Also fat cats can't jump and play like cats at a healthy weight.

Why does every animal thread need to have a "no this is abuse" contingent?
posted by zutalors! at 1:48 PM on December 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their steel boxes, or why.
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 1:50 PM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


look i fucking love cats okay, they are glorious horrible little goblin monsters whose spite never fails to inspire me to greater heights of pettiness, but oh my god having one of them in your home is like having a furious genius toddler who can see ghosts and who also sometimes shits on your pillow
posted by poffin boffin at 1:53 PM on December 21, 2016 [40 favorites]


My dog just ate a pound of baklava off the kitchen counter. Could someone put my kitchen in a steel box?
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:53 PM on December 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Okay...if one is going to feed the cat wet food every morning manually, would it be also be possible to just fill one nights worth of dry food in automatic feeder every morning? I know it is less fun than matching wits with a cats but will that work for someone not very skilled metallurgically?
posted by asra at 2:00 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


A friend bought a cat feeder because she was often in lab (or at a boyfriend's, let's be real) late and the adventure ended with her cat weighing almost twice as much as it had originally.

See, the back of the machine had two dials: one for the number of feedings a day and one for the volume of food. Friend set the dials to 2 feedings a day and 1/4 cup of food each time and the machine and cat went to work. The food was always gone when my friend was in the kitchen, so she assumed everything was working until she noticed she was buying food much sooner than she had anticipated.

Turns out she'd mixed up the volume and frequency dials. The cat was getting 1/2 cup food 4 times a day. That's four times as much food as intended. The cat was joyfully eating all this food up as quickly as it appeared and now resembled nothing so much as a furry bowling ball. It was amazing. Poor kitty. Poor, quietly winning kitty.
posted by maryr at 2:10 PM on December 21, 2016 [53 favorites]


I've always been fortunate in that the cats I lived with never had any trouble with food. We'd keep a bowl topped up, they'd eat when they were hungry and had no overeating and barfing everywhere problems or obesity problems.

When I see stuff like this, I'm reminded of how lucky I was.
posted by sotonohito at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Why does every animal thread need to have a "no this is abuse" contingent?"

I was thinking about why I find this vaguely creepy, and I guess it's the human's relentless impulse to turn the cat into a passive food-receiving machine who receives food in precise measured increments at precised measured times when that's just not how cats are. The cat is just trying to do its cat thing, and things work out better for everyone when you meet your friends where they are. That's not to say just let the cat eat and barf to infinity, but this isn't the way.
posted by bleep at 2:17 PM on December 21, 2016


Turns out she'd mixed up the volume and frequency dials. The cat was getting 1/2 cup food 4 times a day. That's four times as much food as intended. The cat was joyfully eating all this food up as quickly as it appeared and now resembled nothing so much as a furry bowling ball. It was amazing. Poor kitty. Poor, quietly winning kitty.

That reminds me of how I'll come home after a trip knowing that the cat sitter already fed them that day and they'll be all "we're hungry! as you know, you weren't home, and so no one fed us! it's just pure logic, we'll be by the bowls."
posted by zutalors! at 2:17 PM on December 21, 2016 [16 favorites]


It's like no one here has ever used Linux

cat cannot open foodincans
posted by maryr at 2:18 PM on December 21, 2016 [11 favorites]


This seems fairly ridiculously overbuilt. For many years, I've used a cat feeder that is very low security, and so my cats at first would beat it up to get more food out. The solution was like an hour of carpentry to build a small box that it fits inside, where the food drops down onto a ramp that directs the food out a slot that's about 1/4 inch high. Paint the exterior white to match our trim, and it looks like a little side table.
posted by tocts at 2:18 PM on December 21, 2016


you like wood, this cat blogging lady likes metal. nbd.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:20 PM on December 21, 2016 [25 favorites]


but oh my god having one of them in your home is like having a furious genius toddler who can see ghosts and who also sometimes shits on your pillow

but you repeat yourself
posted by beerperson at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


My friend's cat was like this. She went through three feeding robots trying to find one he couldn't destroy. With the last one, she bought a raccoon-proof feeding station and rigged pvc tubing around the cord. The cat would hit the machine for hours to get one kibble. When we went by to check on him while she was away, he had worked all the screws loose that held the hopper on and had eaten everything (no puke fortunately). He had also eaten open a mailed package (it had a dress in it) and was known to eat whole avocados. No way was she going to teach the cat that she had anything to do with his feeding.

I think the problem was solved when she moved to Africa and her parents took the cat.
posted by hydrobatidae at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


nicebookrack: Cats enjoy having to work for their food; it makes them feel like predators bringing down prey.

My cat has apparently taken this in a "middle manager" sort of role, where instead of stalking her food, she just pesters us until we feed her. As if she's saying "hey, my food delivery was scheduled for today, but you have not yet delivered the food to my bowl. You should get on that, ASAP. Hey, are you getting to my food? You're walking the wrong way. Hey! Hey! Hey!"
posted by filthy light thief at 2:23 PM on December 21, 2016 [27 favorites]


poffin boffin: but oh my god having one of them in your home is like having a furious genius toddler who can see ghosts and who also sometimes shits on your pillow

beerperson: but you repeat yourself

Toddlers don't see ghosts, they talk to ghosts. (Okay, sometimes babies will stare into the spectral plane, very cat-like, but toddlers will talk on end to no one in particular, other than the spirits that inhabit every-day spaces.)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:24 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


'oh honey, timmy has an imaginary friend'
'oh yeah?'
'yes his name is Jed Tillman and he died in an accident on the iron range'
posted by beerperson at 2:26 PM on December 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


Good news: Sometimes those ghosts that cats see are actually mice living in your walls.
posted by maryr at 2:26 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief, yep. One of mine will nag me even if there is food in her bowl and if I carry her over to it she's all, oh, cool, but how did I know that? She is not onboard with earning her food, in her view Kitties should not have to exert any energy in obtaining food, the onus is on human to provide.
posted by kitten magic at 2:27 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Our cat has opened the fridge and sat on the door, presumably just to show us that he can.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 2:34 PM on December 21, 2016 [31 favorites]


Like, what would actually happen if the cat just got all the food it wanted out of the machine?

Super fat kitties have trouble jumping, playing, and at the extreme end lose their ability to fully clean themselves because they can no longer stretch around their bellies to reach their lower halves. Which sounds cute until your kitty is walking around with poop or litter clumped onto their butts and every time it tries to clean itself it's an exercise in frustration.
posted by schroedinger at 2:36 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


look i fucking love cats okay, they are glorious horrible little goblin monsters whose spite never fails to inspire me to greater heights of pettiness, but oh my god having one of them in your home is like having a furious genius toddler who can see ghosts and who also sometimes shits on your pillow

One time they turned on our kitchen sink in the night, and the strainer was in so it eventually ran over and flooded the kitchen, and when I woke up and saw what had happened they were meowing angrily at me from one side of the growing puddle because they were pissed that they didn't have a route into the kitchen. My fury at the level of entitlement on display was so transcendent that it actually cycled back around to admiration.
posted by invitapriore at 2:39 PM on December 21, 2016 [38 favorites]


Chaplin thinks that if he can see the bottom of his dry food dish, we are obviously starving him, so he will meow his head off until one of us refills his dish.

Try a plate rather than a bowl. It feels weird for cats to eat when something's pressing their whiskers back.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:49 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have this same feeder, but have two cats, and my problem wasn't the cats attacking the feeder (they are not particularly food-motivated) but rather them attacking each other when the food dropped into the bowl (they are highly territory-motivated, whether that territory is food, or lap, or prime windowsill space, or whatever).

My own solution was somewhat lower-tech, but served the purpose. (Note that the quantity of food shown is not typically dispensed amount, but represented the cumulation of several trials.)
posted by Kat Allison at 2:56 PM on December 21, 2016 [11 favorites]


I was thinking about why I find this vaguely creepy, and I guess it's the human's relentless impulse to turn the cat into a passive food-receiving machine who receives food in precise measured increments at precised measured times when that's just not how cats are.

As opposed to the more usual "fed at 7am and 6pm when the human is available"? C'mon, we're talking about domesticated house cats, not feral or wild cats. Their lives are already scheduled and regimented.
posted by Lexica at 3:33 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


lotta goatyologists in this thread i tell you what
posted by poffin boffin at 3:34 PM on December 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Hm I dunno maybe my cat's just spoiled but I feed her when she says she's hungry.
posted by bleep at 3:39 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was thinking about why I find this vaguely creepy, and I guess it's the human's relentless impulse to turn the cat into a passive food-receiving machine who receives food in precise measured increments at precised measured times when that's just not how cats are.

Counterpoint: It's nearly dusk! Where are my treats? (Source: oldercatbailard, personal communication)
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:06 PM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was thinking about why I find this vaguely creepy, and I guess it's the human's relentless impulse to turn the cat into a passive food-receiving machine who receives food in precise measured increments at precised measured times when that's just not how cats are.

This is exactly how you keep a cat healthy. If you went into a good pet shelter and told them your feeding strategy they probably wouldn't let you have one.
posted by srboisvert at 4:18 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]




Me: hey kitty I got you an automatic food dispenser for Christmas!
Cat: what was wrong with the old one?
And that's how I ended up in the burn ward.
posted by um at 4:35 PM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love pudgy fluffy kitty bellies, but it's an absolute joy to see a cat who has lost weight suddenly running around like a kitten and enjoying just being alive so much more than you expected. It can really make you sad for the cat-of-the-past who just sat around most of the time.
posted by amtho at 4:42 PM on December 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


A similar thing happened to me. My now-wife puts some herbs in pots in the kitchen and next thing you know we're buying 95 acres and a small herd of cattle.
posted by stet at 4:43 PM on December 21, 2016


Chaplin thinks that if he can see the bottom of his dry food dish, we are obviously starving him, so he will meow his head off until one of us refills his dish.

My sister's boyfriend's cat Waffles freaks out so badly when he can see the bottom of his dish that he stress-vomits. It's like he's convinced that he is about to run out of food and death is so very imminent, so, time to have an anxiety attack, *yak*.

I was thinking about why I find this vaguely creepy, and I guess it's the human's relentless impulse to turn the cat into a passive food-receiving machine who receives food in precise measured increments at precised measured times when that's just not how cats are.

Cripes, if we could just let the cats eat whenever they were hungry, we would. That would be WAY easier on us, if we could just leave out a bowl full of kibble for the cats to eat whenever they were hungry. Sadly, we do not have Those Kind of Cats:

1) Connie, at least, is always telling us that she is hungry. She nags us constantly for food. Al is usually up for food whenever, but his problem is more that he was a stray, and so if there is food out, he will immediately eat it all.
2) This means that neither of them will eat until they are full, but rather until they are sick, leaving little cat pukes for us to hear/find. Then, they are hungry again.
3) Because of this, we feed the cats 3 times a day: at 6 am, at 5 pm, and at 10 pm. They used to have only two feeding times - 6 am and 5 pm - but the cats have another problem, which is:
a) Because of Al being a stray, he eats very, very quickly. As we got Connie as a kitten, she learned her eating habits from Al, so she does this too.
b) This means that if we give them too much all at once, even if it is a reasonable amount of food for a cat meal, they will eat it quickly and barf. Then, they will be hungry. Again. So, dinner and supper were established, so that they can have the same amount of food at intervals.

We do have one of those auto-feeders, but we only use it when we are away from home over a weekend or something. We used to use it all the time, but the cats did in fact figure out how to trigger it to dispense at non-meal times, and they ate too much and got fat (and often barfy). Also, they are cuddlier when we hand-feed them because they associate us with food.

God, our cats are assholes.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:38 PM on December 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


And I thought my chicken feeding related construction projects were elaborate!

(Chickens don't have issues with quantity of food on offer, but they are incredibly messy eaters that live outside and eat the same type of food that many small rodents would also very much like to share. Devising a feeding system that allows chickens to eat whenever they want but does not permit them to spread grain willy nilly for several feet around their feeder, thus also feeding every mouse and rat in the neighborhood, is like the holy grail of chicken keeping. It's taken me a few tries but I believe I have achieved it.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:50 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


My cats must eat together, even though one steals food from the other. The little one, whose food is always getting stolen, won't eat without the thief.

People who don't have cats or don't have overeating or crazy cats (both of mine were rescues), don't really know what the deal is. The little jerks are nuts.
posted by zutalors! at 6:51 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


We have a cat who for some time had a medical issue which meant that he could not tell when he was full. He was not just hungry all the time, he felt that he was STARVING. ALL THE TIME. Unfortunately, he is also an intelligent and determined cat. We could only allow him to eat a medically necessary amount, or it would hurt him a lot, and we had no way to explain things to him.

There is now a child safety lock on the fridge, a complicated padlock system on the trash, safety locks on every cupboard containing anything remotely foodlike, and a list of his preferred foods that we just don't bring into the house so he'll stop turning into a damn ninja. He no longer feels hungry all the time, but he picked up some... habits.

The one that still impresses me most: we used to order cat food by the flat and keep the flats stacked in the kitchen, still wrapped in plastic. If you had asked me whether the cat could get through the plastic, I'd have said sure, but that it would stop there. But no. The cans have pull-tab tops, and the cat dug through the plastic, allowed the other cans to brace the one he was focusing on, and used his teeth to grip the pull-tab and OPEN HIS OWN CAN OF CAT FOOD.

Luckily, this made a very loud noise with all the scrabbling and scratching and clinking. Of course, it was also three in the morning.

But yeah. OPENED HIS OWN CAN. Now we keep the cat food two locked doors away from areas he is allowed to inhabit.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 7:05 PM on December 21, 2016 [40 favorites]



There are 5 cats in my household, three are mine and two my parents. None are over eaters and food is left out in the cat room all day. They do have there routine though. Mom looks after feeding them when she gets up and right before she goes to bed. They always have dry food and at these times they each get a teaspoon of wet food and a few cat treats. In the morning Mom has coffee in bed and reads and all the cats will congregate on the bed and patiently wait. Its pretty funny. If Mom goes away then they just all come to my bed and if I fail to give them their spoonful they will glare and bug me all day.
We can also leave open bags of food in their room and no one touches it. The dogs will eat everything if they get in though.

Cats are so bizzare.

sidenote: Just discovered that if I sing Edelwiess it's like a cat siren call. I'm bingewatching The Man in the High Castle and was singing along to the them song. All 5 came into my room and were all 'What up human?"
posted by Jalliah at 7:27 PM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


beerperson: 'oh honey, timmy has an imaginary friend'

Apparently my uncle, as a child, had an imaginary friend named Tonto. But one day Tonto wasn't there. When asked what happened to Tonto, toddler uncle said "he was crushed by a rock." Kids are weird (and so, so much fun).

everybody had matching towels: Our cat has opened the fridge and sat on the door, presumably just to show us that he can.

My little person does this, too, except instead of sitting on the door, he sat on the little ledge. Less worrysome, equally as helpful for warming up food. ("Helpful like a cat" is a saying we have in the house, which stemmed from our middle manager deciding that we needed help making the bed, and by help she meant she should be on the sheets as we tried to pull up the comforter. )

I realize now she's the paws-on type of manager.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:47 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


But yeah. OPENED HIS OWN CAN.

I believe I would pay cash money for a video of this. That is ridiculously impressive.
posted by bologna on wry at 9:03 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


But yeah. OPENED HIS OWN CAN

Wow. I didn't think that was possible. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what a cat might be capable of, for the sake of food, and I just didn't believe a cat would be even close to physically capable.

Whelp. Better find a latching door to store the cat food behind.
posted by wotsac at 9:41 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


sebastienbailard: "I was thinking about why I find this vaguely creepy, and I guess it's the human's relentless impulse to turn the cat into a passive food-receiving machine who receives food in precise measured increments at precised measured times when that's just not how cats are.

Counterpoint: It's nearly dusk! Where are my treats? (Source: oldercatbailard, personal communication)
"

You ever think maybe unlimited texting is not the best idea here?
posted by Samizdata at 10:18 PM on December 21, 2016


But yeah. OPENED HIS OWN CAN.

We have a nominee for next year's Nobel Prize in Cat.
posted by JHarris at 10:31 PM on December 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is an excellent piece of documentary about how the war between the humans and the cats got started. The Matrix will be an invention of Felis Sapiens, I'm sure.

The only way I've found to win against a cat (not mine, just a step-cat that allows me to borrow him from time to time) is humiliation. And even then, he pretends not to mind and then bites me, so it's a Pyrrhic victory at best.
posted by gmb at 3:17 AM on December 22, 2016


My cat won't let me sit here and read this thread because while he has a full bowl of food he knows I'm going to have cereal and he wants that instead or cat treats so he's staring at me in an alarming way and crying. He used to drag empty cat food tins out of the garbage and into my bed. I feel for the woman with this feeder.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:18 AM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Mr. Peach feeds the cats whenever they meow, and even when they don't. I can't break him of the habit.

The old one is finally ancient enough that she's no longer eating herself into the shape of a bowling ball as a result, though she does eat enough to throw up two days out of every week. He just installed steps next to the bed so she can get up. The younger one, the stray we brought in, has a bit of a belly and damaged hind legs and back that make it hard for her to walk. They usually have food left in their bowl that they won't eat because he has conditioned them to think of food as something that comes from humans.

I'm not sure detaching feeding from a human hand and making it regimented is all that unkind, honestly.
posted by Peach at 5:07 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


With all the grar in here for what looks like a well-documented, fun project that the person enjoyed and is probably at least neutral to the cat's health, I am reminded that it's okay to not like things.

(Typed with my cat sitting on me, while being thankful her food intake is self-moderating, for the record).
posted by Alterscape at 5:39 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have this feeder too, but not the ant problem (despite a persistent spring Antvasion of intrepid ant explorers). I think the solution is that I've dusted the exterior of the feeder (and the bottom of the bowl during ant season) with food grade diatomaceous earth. Pipsqueak can eat it (if she wants to) without harm, ants don't dig it, victory!
posted by janell at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2016


All of my cats have been rescues or strays, but I've been blessed that none of them have ever overfed when I just leave dry kibble out. I did have a cat that could open pizza boxes, get a slice, close the box and sit on it while he ate the toppings, then he'd push the crust off the table to the dog.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Huh, I was telling my husband about this amazing blog post I just read and he was like "You read that? That's Quinn. I used to work with her!" Turns out my husband knows cooler people than I'd realized.
posted by carolr at 9:16 AM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


OPENED HIS OWN CAN

Our farm dog figured out how to open beer bottles with his teeth one hot summer. He was real happy.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:57 AM on December 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Hm I dunno maybe my cat's just spoiled but I feed her when she says she's hungry.

If we did this with Chloe, she would be more obese than she already is. As it stands, she's a little bowling ball and it's not good for her health. Her joints are affected, her heart works harder than it would if she were leaner, she can't jump or play like she should be able to, and she's at risk for developing diabetes, hepatic lipidosis, and skin issues. She gets a prescribed amount of food each day but in-between feedings, she acts like she's desperate to get food and tells us she's hungry every single time we even look in the direction of the food bowl. We're trying to get her weight down without damaging her liver.

It's great that you can do this with your cat. Many people can't. The author of the original article has a cat who will vomit if she eats too much. That's not good for cats, either; stomach acids can wear away the enamel on the teeth and can damage the esophagus. So, you know, maybe try to be a little more charitable?
posted by cooker girl at 10:00 AM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know why people need to be so rude. People usually don't get cats to starve or hurt them. Maybe what's best for our cats isn't what's best for yours?
posted by zutalors! at 10:19 AM on December 22, 2016 [5 favorites]



Chaplin thinks that if he can see the bottom of his dry food dish, we are obviously starving him, so he will meow his head off until one of us refills his dish.

My sister's boyfriend's cat Waffles freaks out so badly when he can see the bottom of his dish that he stress-vomits. It's like he's convinced that he is about to run out of food and death is so very imminent, so, time to have an anxiety attack, *yak*.

Not to criticize your sister's boyfriend, but do you think it's possible that one time the food in the bottom of the bowl spoiled (because new food was put in on top of old food, or moisture such as cat slobber dripped down to the bottom, say), Waffles ate it and got sick, and now when he sees the bottom of the bowl he throws up as a precaution against what happened to him that time he ate to the bottom of the bowl?
posted by jamjam at 4:50 PM on December 22, 2016


That is entirely possible, especially with the slobber theory, although Waffles does eat dry food. He has one of those gravity-operated food dishes, where the food is in a water-cooler-type thing and falls down as Waffles empties his bowl. It . . . doesn't work so well and my sister has to shake it sometimes to get the food to go down. She makes sure to check now that she realized the link between him barfing and the half-full bowl.

Requisite photo of Waffles helping DadFreedom fix the oven.

Also, here are our buttface cats: Al and Connie.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:53 PM on December 22, 2016


That's a great picture of Waffles and DadFreedom; Waffles looks very happy and healthy.
posted by jamjam at 10:30 PM on December 22, 2016


Reddit, what's the smartest thing you've witnessed your pet do?
[–]doublestitch 226 points 3 days ago*

Our recently deceased cat was an alarm clock.

The better half turned off his clock alarm on weekends. The cat woke him up on schedule anyway. Once when I woke up twenty minutes early and held still the cat didn't realize I was awake. She was in the middle of the bed not watching the light come in the window but looking from his face to the alarm clock and back. As soon as it was five o'clock she climbed onto his chest and sat on him.

He woke up, fed her, and went back to bed.

Later in the morning we conferred about this. He had raised her from a kitten before he met me and he had known she could tell time for years. "When I really want to sleep in I cover the digital clocks. It freaks her out."
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:39 AM on December 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


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