Our Story Thus FarPenwiper, who gets overly excited and swats at his housemates while meals are being served, has for some time now been locked up until his own bowl is ready.
It mostly just works: He knows the food reward for going in the bathroom before feeding, and when he thinks it's time he'll go sit by the door waiting to be let in. After he eats, he's fine, lounging around or looking for some human affection. No disturbing of housemates occurs ... at least by Penwiper.
As previously noted, we had a minor problem with Penwiper's appetite being off after his annual shots, the same sort of problem we sometimes see with Oscar after his annual exam. We bought two cans of wet food, and to avoid a riot gave some to each boy:
- Penwiper treated it like an ice cream cone at first, licking it rather eating it, but he got the hang of it and generally liked it.
- Oscar refused to go near it. We had to give him a clean bowl of dry kibble.
- Whitey definitely liked it. Not surprising, since he and Billy got wet food years ago.
- Billy, resident foodie, acted like he had gotten cream. ("More please?")
We gave the three who wanted it a treat at every meal until the first can was gone, and put the other can away, unopened.
Three Weeks AgoBilly, who has always been a pain at meals by eating fast and then raiding others' bowls, got to be enough of a headache that I came up with a new plan: As we let Penwiper out of the bathroom, we put Billy in.
This is actually easier than it sounds, because Billy was already under the impression that going in the bathroom on command gets him treats. That the kibble he was following to the bathroom wasn't his (it's PW's, and not going in the bathroom with Billy) mattered not: The Mighty Hunter is easily decoyed, and if his bowl eventually shows up at his private dining room, he's good with the procedure.
With this, after 10 years we can lay off the continuous vigilance at meal times. We just need to let him out once his housemates finish.
The Week Before Last
We got worried about Whitey not always finishing his food over period of a couple of weeks. It was off to the vet for a full exam and geriatric blood work, the pronouncement being: He's fine.
We opened the second can, added wet food back to his diet and now the magic is back. He was bored. Or maybe no longer feeling the pressure of Billy wanting to raid his food.
A full case of wet food has been obtained.
The permanent change in menu does mean that Billy is dining alone for the foreseeable future. If he was a pain when everyone was eating kibble, he's in overdrive when his wet food is gone and someone else has some. The kid spent years trying to raid Whitey's bowl of wet food, we have not forgotten.
Amusingly enough, it does mean the decoy of Penwiper's bowl is less effective. Billy is so eager for wet food, he won't go in the room without a bowl as easily. So now we prep his and Penwiper's bowls at the same time.
Such is the ballet we dance for our boys.