The Cat Who Hunts for Dinner
August 7, 2015 6:18 AM   Subscribe

 
I hope nothing happens to this guy.

Whoever gets his cat afterwards will have to watch it slowly starve as it hopelessly hunts through the new house for non-existent balls.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:25 AM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like how he's using two Eveready classic 9V batteries with the black cat logo on them to power his feeder trigger.
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:27 AM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can this be adapted for kids? Asking for a friend.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:32 AM on August 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


"Cat rang bell, I ate food" #PavlovsCat
posted by Molesome at 6:37 AM on August 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thank you to Monkey for... being an all-around cat.

You've gone too far with the feeding.
posted by Segundus at 6:39 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This feels a bit like a solution in search of a problem (same with his $5 DIY cat toy - it's basically a pricier Cat Dancer), but it's still very cool. Truth be told, I'm more impressed with successfully training the cat than I am with the food-dispensing system. We tried clicker training our cats and gave up; it takes ages and you have to dedicate time to it every day. It's exhausting.

The cat-friendly shelves at around 1:08 in the video are a nice touch. The guy clearly loves his cat.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:58 AM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I love this! Have had success with clicker training cats in the past, and this cat is probably a lot happier and less bored than most cats. So great.
posted by amtho at 7:19 AM on August 7, 2015


I feel like this guy is starting his cat down the road to capitalism: Instead of hunting for food, the cat has been trained to gather an arbitrary symbolic object, and then exchange _that_ for food.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:23 AM on August 7, 2015 [58 favorites]


This is neat! We have a very similar set-up in our house, where I throw chicken bones in the trash, and then Caliban finds the chicken bones in the trash and pulls them out, and then - and here's the really interesting high-tech part - leaves them scattered around the house until it looks like I live in a corpse-strewn hellscape
posted by Greg Nog at 7:30 AM on August 7, 2015 [88 favorites]


Quite cool. The particular part I thought was a solution in search of a problem was the RFID business. Why not just use a pressure switch which would be triggered by an unmodified wiffle ball hitting it? Would avoid his issue with RFID misses.
posted by finka at 7:38 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it be easier for him to just set hundreds of mice free in his house and let the cat slowly eat them?
posted by item at 7:38 AM on August 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


Because without RFID the cat will collect everything in the house.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:41 AM on August 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Wouldn't it be easier for him to just set hundreds of mice free in his house and let the cat slowly eat them?

My cat has minimal interest in any kind of toy unless it's being actively moved around in a highly realistic fashion. I'm pretty sure that his ideal toy/food system would in fact be a box that releases terrified mice at randomly chosen 10-60 minute intervals, all day long.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:51 AM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'd be really excited by this if dry food only was a viable option for feeding my cat. Not enough liquid for kitty kidneys, though. :(

Mind you, my cat also gets semi-frequent walks on a leash and the only reason we haven't clicker trained him is because he finds the ability to MAKE CLICKS with the CLICKER way more exciting than any treats we could give him. So if we bring out the clicker around him, he spends the entire session trying to steal it so he can make the magical click noises on his own. Anyway, my point there is that I like the way this guy thinks and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.
posted by sciatrix at 7:55 AM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel like this guy is starting his cat down the road to capitalism: Instead of hunting for food, the cat has been trained to gather an arbitrary symbolic object, and then exchange _that_ for food.

Not quite--this is but the first step. A truly capitalistic kitty will coerce a smaller kitty into bringing him the food in exchange for a token taste, but not quite enough to feed himself properly. The more bits of food the smaller kitty brings, the more pieces of food he gets in return (of course the gross weight of the food remains the same. The pieces are smaller so it looks like he's getting more food for more effort (this is called cat-flation).

Also, the smaller kitty has to train his kittens to do this same job for the capitalist kitty, thereby locking his family into a condition of perpetual servitude. The capitalist kitty pets them now and then to show them he's a good guy, and tells them tales of when he was a kitten, bringing himself up by force of will and a sterling belief in capitalism.

They are so cute when they are small, eh?
posted by mule98J at 8:15 AM on August 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


Everybody knows that cats are libertarians; wholly dependent beings absolutely convinced that they are sovereign masters of their destinies.
posted by acb at 8:25 AM on August 7, 2015 [34 favorites]


Wouldn't it be easier for him to just set hundreds of mice free in his house and let the cat slowly eat them?

If you're goal really is to live in a half-eaten corpse-infested hellscape, then yes.

Be warned however, that kitty will being toys to bed, sometimes with heads, sometimes without. It's like a glass of water, but squeakier, I guess.
posted by bonehead at 8:50 AM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Another solution: live in an extremely porous Victorian house. Your house will develop an organic, local ecosystem of mice, bats, bugs and birds and your cat will be able to hunt with no input from you. Pro-tip: your cat will require a rabies booster if it tangles with a bat; you may too.
posted by Frowner at 9:00 AM on August 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Not quite--this is but the first step. A truly capitalistic kitty will coerce a smaller kitty into bringing him the food in exchange for a token taste, but not quite enough to feed himself properly. The more bits of food the smaller kitty brings, the more pieces of food he gets in return (of course the gross weight of the food remains the same. The pieces are smaller so it looks like he's getting more food for more effort (this is called cat-flation).

Also, the smaller kitty has to train his kittens to do this same job for the capitalist kitty, thereby locking his family into a condition of perpetual servitude. The capitalist kitty pets them now and then to show them he's a good guy, and tells them tales of when he was a kitten, bringing himself up by force of will and a sterling belief in capitalism.
Just for the sake of argument, and because I like the idea of capitalist cats (they're right up there with the "you have two cows" jokes):

Truly capitalist kitties will each hunt foods for which they have a comparative advantage—maybe one lives near a pond for water, one is better at catching mice, one is too old to hunt but will share its sunny tree instead—and mutually gain from trade. If Monopolist Cat becomes so good at hunting mice that there are none left for anycat else to catch and trade (or if it's the only cat lucky enough to live near all the valuable catnip), then it has the power to coerce other cats.

Communist cats would skip the trading part and share what they hunt out of altruism, distributing it based on the perceived needs of the other cats; but we all know cats are too selfish for that to work. (I'm not confusing communism with anarchism, am I?)
posted by Rangi at 9:08 AM on August 7, 2015


The cat I grew up with loved hunting and chasing so much that if you just dragged a wadded-up paper towel on a string by her, her eyes would dilate until they were almost totally black, and not just her tail but her entire aft-section would rock violently from side to side until she finally pounced. She died a few months ago at the age of 20 (at least! she was a shelter cat so her exact age is a mystery) after becoming increasingly infirm, but she successfully caught and killed a mouse within the last year of her life. She would have totally loved this in her younger days, maybe even in her dotage.

Except she would have probably put all the balls in the feeder at once and scarfed the entire output, then yowled at us until we planted more of them.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pretty neat idea. You could make a lot of money selling DRM-enabled toy mice that fall apart after a dozen uses.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:20 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Everybody knows that cats are libertarians; wholly dependent beings absolutely convinced that they are sovereign masters of their destinies.

As true as this may be, the amount that I was offended by this joke on behalf of my two cats is probably not healthy.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:03 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


My former cats would not have fared well with this system.

Squish would have starved to death because he didn't have the synapses available to process 'item in hole = food'.

Mall Cop would have hunted EVERYTHING with serious ferocity and shoved them down into the hole, because any aberration in his little world must be dealt with swiftly, and with no mercy. This includes getting at the food.

HRH Miss Lady Qu'Appelle would have taken about 4 days to figure out that a. the food is stored in a huge container above the food dish, and b. it's really much more expedient (and fun!) to ram into the entire contraption, breaking it open like a Easter Egg, and feast upon the cups of food scattered all over the kitchen floor.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:33 AM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just for the sake of argument, and because I like the idea of capitalist cats (they're right up there with the "you have two cows" jokes)

You have two cows.

Metafilter: No. You have two cats. Post photos.
posted by mule98J at 11:02 AM on August 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


I was surprised he so quickly dispensed with the idea of randomly hidden bowls of food around the house. Sure, it's tedious, but so is cat training. I think I might hide a bowl of (dry) cat food near one of my cat's spots and see his reaction.
posted by sleeping bear at 11:11 AM on August 7, 2015


Food smells. Cats have a strong sense of smell. There is no such thing as a hidden bowl of food in the house.
posted by wotsac at 11:24 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


For my part- I really want to set up something like this that can read my cats' tags, and hand out snacks based on how much the cat has eaten already.
posted by wotsac at 11:26 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't clicker train my Trilby to find his food in this manner as he is deaf, but suspect I wouldn't have to as he has a voracious appetite and has no problem tracking down any accessible food that may be in the house. If he's hiding away somewhere in the house, all I have to do is start eating something and he'll immediately appear beside me, giving me a GIVE ME YOUR FOOD, YOU SPECIEIST COW look. If I put food in a drawer to keep it secure from him he'll keep fussing and sniffing around it until I move it. He can open all the cupboards in the house *and* the freezer. Despite his deafness he loves hunting (whatever he lacks in skill due to his handicap he more than makes up for in passion) and catches the mice that keep getting into my 1912-built home as well as the occasional insect. He really enjoyed the pantry moth infestation I had sometime back as it meant he had prey to catch and eat.

So he'd love hunting down his meals, and be able to do it, but I won't do this because canned food is so much better for him than dry.
posted by orange swan at 11:48 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Communist cats would skip the trading part and share what they hunt out of altruism

Chairman Meow will have to guide them until they are free of retrograde thinking, of course.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


My cat is also named Monkey and she is the best* cat. That is all.

*Cats routinely violate the laws of physics and one of the ways they do so is that there can be many best cats. I am not impugning the bestness of your kitty
posted by flaterik at 12:57 PM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


you cannot make best cat claims without pictures

it's like you don't even know the rules
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:02 PM on August 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I absolutely loved this video except for the part about 45 seconds in where I instinctively exclaimed "OFF THE DESK. GET OFF THE DE-- GET YOUR NOSE OF THE MUG, IT'S NOT FOR YOU"

I'd love to set this up for our cats, considering they easily learn all sorts of new skills on their own and we all have so much free time on our hands and paws, but they're strictly on an all-wet diet because the little one can't graze on dry kibble, even when supplemented with wet food, or else she gets dehydrated. But wow, what a way to play to the cats' instincts and give them more fun things to do.
posted by Spatch at 1:07 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


For those of you with cats on wet food (and it really is better), perhaps a single treat dispensing device would suffice? And a limited number of treats per day?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:13 PM on August 7, 2015


I've mentioned this on MF before, but I periodically release a box of live crickets* in my house to give the cats something productive to do. Haven't yet had a cricket survive more than an hour, however, sometimes there's cricket leg yack to clean up.

*sold in pet stores as reptile food
posted by jamaro at 12:22 AM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


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