We're having some unexpected results with our cats too. I received the cats on Friday--the 13th--ugh... just realized the superstition of that date!
lol... and, had the three largest cats set up in our 'space container' and in my son's 3rd grade classroom on Tuesday--the 17th. The other three I kept at home in my usual rearing area--although I did set up a container similar to the 'space container,' but I'm keeping the food in the fridge and just smashing a dollop against the back of the container--no little individual boxes or anything--and cleaning the frass and 'older' food out daily.
First, my son's teacher came in to her room last Friday--the 20th--to a container holding ONLY TWO cats??? No one knows how the heck one escaped, and it couldn't be found, but it's gone just the same!! The air vents in the container are entirely too small for the cats to crawl through... so, my thought is that some curious little fingers may have prodded the container overnight
But, these things happen! Sigh.
Then, just this morning--the 24th--the teacher finds a cat lying motionless on the bottom of the container!
ARGH! So, I had my son bring the container home so we could 'babysit' the last cat over the holiday break. He also brought the dead cat home. It looks kinda deflated--but not diseased--so I think the diet was just not working for our school cats. Maybe the temperature or lighting in the room fluctuated too much?
At any rate, I put the remaining school cat in with the other three cats I kept at home and he started devouring the diet! So, I think that for us anyway, the preloaded food containers just didn't work to keep the diet fresh. The cats I have at home are thriving--although one is fairly small compared to the others--I think he's just a couple of days younger maybe? I hesitated to put the lone school cat in with the healthy other cats at first, but as someone else mentioned in another post, I think this experiment is more about getting the cats through their life cycle for the kids to witness the thrilling emergence, than about sticking to protocol.
The kids really want to see those wings flapping!!
So, at last count, we are down to three cats ready to pupate, and one a couple of days behind. The school container was probably compromised... so we'll just stick with the home-method that's working for now. I plan on separating the cats so we'll have two pupas for school and two for home if we get that far! And, the 'missing' cat could always end up pupating somewhere in the classroom! (although i doubt it). But, I have had about 3-4 cats do this over the years in my kitchen!
They can be soooo sneaky!
Good luck all!!