I have 5 stray cats that have been visiting my house over the last 2-3 months sporadically (1-2 times a week). Of late, I have started setting out adult cat food for them and I see that their frequency of visits has increased.
Now they follow a set time-table. Cat 1 visits between 9-9.30am and eats all the food! I set more food out at 9.30am and Cat 2 visits at around 11.00am and eats about half of it. Cat 1 and Cat 3 visit between noon-3pm and feed on the leftovers. Then I put food out again at around 6pm again and Cat 1 visits at around 6.30-7pm. Cat 4 and Cat 5 are only sporadic visiters.
Given that background, my questions are:
How do I ensure that Cat 2 doesn't go hungry since from next week I start work and will be in my office between 9am-7pm. I'm on vacation right now and hence it isn't difficult for me to put food out in the middle of the day since I am home. I would rather not resort to some fancy battery operated, timing gadget since I cannot quite afford anything beyond $10-15.
Also, do cats "learn" if I time my feeding and restrict it to setting out food at 8am (before I head to work) and 7pm (after I return from work)? Will I be losing some of my frequent visiters if they perceive that I don't put food out any more in the middle of the day?
I plan on traveling out of the country for a month - is there some feeding strategy I can use to ensure they have food when I am gone? I can't quite ask my neighbors.
I checked with my the building syndicat. They have no problem with me feeding stray cats.