SMALL CAT FEEDING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Gate Opening Times: The front gate and keeper gates are opened at 7:30 AM for feeders and volunteers that assist with feeding and morning keeper chores.
Preparing to Feed
Each route must have at least one senior feeder and if available one trained/certified feeder. Each route may only have two volunteers or interns to observe feeding or be observed feeding.
Assigned feeders, feeder trainees, and interns should check the feeding sheet in food prep for route assignments and any special diet updates or instructions as well as the Important Updates section of the BigCatRescue.me site for any major announcements prior to the start of feeding.
Some cats that have had dental work or surgery may be prescribed a soft food diet for a determined number of days or indefinitely. Be sure to check the Diet Board in Food Prep prior to heading out to feed. Diets may have been prepared before this diet change was prescribed by the vet and the incorrect food may go out on the route.
Buckets are marked according to the assigned routes and are kept refrigerated prior to feeding. Feeding sheets are stored with the buckets of food for each route and should be cross checked with the supplied food prior to leaving food prep to ensure that all of the food required for the route is accounted for.
Feeders should take a small feeding bucket, an extra pair of gloves, and a feeding stick when going out to feed. A feeding stick is an operant stick that is used to retrieve food that rolls out of the lock out, or to stick feed animals that are fussy eaters. If an animal is on quarantine, use only the feeding stick that has been assigned to that particular animal. Do not use this assigned feeding stick for any other animal.
Cell-phones should be left behind or muted before starting to feed. Any disruption to the feeder can cause cats to be missed or vital observations to go unnoticed.
All lions, tigers, cougars and leopards as well as a selection of small cats’ lockout doors must be closed prior to the start of feeding by a certified big cat feeder to lock the cats out of the lockout area until the food has been placed inside. Some animals may need to be separated. Care should be taken to separate the cats into their assigned sections for feeding time.
Meds must be prepared and distributed to the cats by a senior keeper feeder that has been certified in med distribution prior to the start of feeding.
Hand pulled carts are used to transport the food during feeding a route. Each route will have its own cart and in the cart should be the food buckets for the route, special diets, supplements for animals on the route, and a feeding sheet with each cat and their diet listed. To prevent dripping blood and food bits on the sanctuary grounds food items should be in buckets at all times, not laying on the carts (this includes bags of ground meat).
Feeders are responsible for observing every animal that is fed. Observations are critical during the feeding process. It is the one time during the day that the animal can be completely observed. Take the time to accurately assess the animal. Any unseen cats should be reported first to the senior keeper feeder assigned to the route and if the senior feeder can not locate the animal the Coordinator should be called to the enclosure immediately.
Be sure to make note of any abnormalities in the animal’s gait as they approach the lockout. This is a time when any limping can be easily observed. During the day, many animals are only observed sleeping or lying down. At feeding time, any limping or issues affecting their gait can be detected and reported.
After the food is placed in the lock out step back to a safe distance and look the animal over completely, noting any injuries, any difficulties eating, or a lack of interest in food.
Chewing should be observed carefully. A cat that refuses to chew on one side or has recently become disinterested in boned foods may have a dental issue.
All animal observations should be recorded on the animal’s observation log after feeding is completed.
If an animal does not seem interested in food at feeding time, the observation should be reported on the chart for that animal and any other relevant symptoms. Mid day and/or later in the afternoon a variety of foods should be offered by the Coordinator or a Volunteer assigned by the Coordinator (keep in mind diet restrictions with regards to bones and fur). Follow up observations should be recorded noting if the cat did or did not want to eat and listing the types of and amounts of food consumed in ounces or pounds.
If an animal was reported as not wanting to eat and the following day is a fasting day the animal should not be fasted. The animal should be offered at least half a meal and what they did or did not eat should be reported.
The feeder must never place a hand or arm into a lockout for any reason, nor within have any part of their person within reach of the animal. All food is to be delivered safely by tossing, pitching, or dropping it through the cage wire from a safe distance; i.e. the animal cannot reach your hand.
The food should be delivered onto the feeding block or into the ant resistant bowls, where available.
If food rolls out or slides out of the lockout, the feeder should never retrieve it with their hand. A long stick may be used to pull the food safely away from the lockout area so that it can be redelivered onto the food block or into the ant resistant bowls. If, for some reason the food cannot be retrieved, give the animal another portion and try to retrieve it at a later time when the animal is not in the vicinity and it can be done safely.
A feeder must be totally familiar with the food aggressive nature of cats sharing an enclosure and the order of feeding them to ensure their safety.
Food amounts are described as; 1 bag, ½ bag, ¼ bag, softball, baseball, golf ball etc. There is a ball chart in food prep to help you judge the appropriate sizes.
Additional foods including; whole prey, chicken, and beef vary from day to day.
Special Diets, Supplements, and Food Logs
Some cats have special dietary needs or have supplements added to their food.
A list of animals that have been prescribed special diets is located in Food Prep. Special diets are pre-made and stored in small buckets/bins. These are clearly labeled with the animals’ names. All feeders should know which animals receive special diets. The special diets are located in the refrigerator with the appropriate large route buckets.
Every cat that receives a supplement such as Cosequin is listed on the Supplement Chart. The chart is in calendar form. The Supplements Chart can be found in the left hand side bar of the BigCatRescue.me site under the heading Training and Docs>Supplements Chart. It can also be found on the Med Chart page for volunteers who have access to this site. Each animal’s name is on the chart and appears on each day of the week that animal is supposed to receive a supplement. The coordinator is responsible for ensuring that supplements have been added to the diets and should initial next to each animal’s name on the chart after feeding has been completed. Supplements should be mixed in a small amount of food and given to the animal prior to feeding the rest of the meal. The supplement should be fully consumed before giving any other foods. Any cats that are locked out of their feeding lockouts prior to feeding will have to receive their supplements from the volunteer assigned to handing out meds. After feeding is over the Coordinator should ensure that each cat received and consumed their supplements.
Some animals may require close observation of food consumption. These animals will be listed on the Important Updates and on the dry erase board in food prep. In some cases their food may be weighed prior to feeding and then the left overs collected, binned, and labeled by the feeder so they can be re-weighed to determine the exact amount consumed. In order to collect the leftovers, lock the animal out of their feeding lock out. This amount should be logged on the animal’s observation log daily until further notice.
Feeders must familiarize themselves with the layouts of the feeding routes as they may differ from the cleaning routes.
Each route will be assigned at least one senior feeder and if available one certified feeder and may only have two volunteers or interns observing or being observed feeding.
Feeder trainees will learn the proper technique for feeding each animal through the observation and training process.
Feeder trainees must observe certified trainers feeding the cats of each route three times. After this, the feeder trainee must feed with instruction from a trainer three times on each route before becoming certified to feed each route unsupervised. Certification is at the trainer’s and the Operation Manager’s discretion and feeder trainees may require more than the three observations or instructional sessions. Once certification is completed on all routes, the feeder can now act as a certified trainer to sign off other feeder trainees.
Feeders are only permitted to feed cats at the same level they are certified to clean. Feeders must regularly clean.
All animals are to be fed in their lockout, unless otherwise specified.
No part of your person may pass through the wire into the cage or come within reaching distance of any animal.
All lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, as well as a selection of small cats’ lockout doors must be closed prior to the start of feeding by a certified big cat feeder to lock the cats out of the lockout area until the food has been placed inside.
Any feeder not confident in feeding a particular animal safely should notify a trainer or senior feeder and should not feed that animal under any circumstances.
When washing bowls/buckets, extra care should be given to rinsing to remove traces or soap or bleach.
Carts should also be cleaned and placed in their storage area.
The trash should be removed and thrown away daily.
The Coordinator should be consulted regarding what to do with any left over foods.
Observing for the purpose of certification in feeding is not offered during scheduled de-worming or flea treatments.
QUALIFIED TEACHERS FOR THIS CLASS ARE:
Print out Small Cat Feeding Certification form.
QUIZ AT LINK