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Feeding Time in a Multi-Cat Household

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
For those of you who have slow eaters in a multi-cat household, how do you deal with it?

Tofu is a grazer and his food needs to be left out for hours while he slowly works at it, coming and going. I don't overfeed him; he just eats a very tiny amount each time. This has been fine with me since none of the other pets can get to his food, but now I'm considering adding a second cat into my home, and I foresee this being a problem.

Will he learn to eat faster and more at one time once he realizes that he has competition? Will seeing another cat eat his/her food with enthusiasm encourage him to eat his portion faster as well? Not sure if they watch and learn from others of their own kind.

It would be impossible to separate the two cats until he finishes since that would mean almost the whole day (he gets 3 meals daily, so food is out almost the entire day. I have tried to cut back to 2 meals, but he just doesn't eat enough to maintain weight.)

Any tips or suggestions greatly appreciated, thanks!
post #2 of 13
I also have cats that like to graze, I have a four year old male, Fable who is overweight, a two year old male, Jupey who is normal (though not in personality lol :P), a one year old female, Emmy with a sensitive stomach and I've just added a three month old kitten, Meg to my gang.

Fable and Jupey are both on adult light biscuits, Emmy's on Royal Canin sensitivity biscuits from the vets and Meg's also on them at the moment because she had a bit of an upset stomach. She'll be going on kitten food some time this week. They all have their separate bowls and I weigh their food every day.

I feed the older ones four times a day in different places of the living room, when Jupey and Emmy have eaten as much as they want I take their bowls up plus Fable's who'd just keep eating and have none for later. It didn't take them very long to figure out that the biscuits weren't going to stay down all day and that they had a limited amount of time before I took their bowls away. They will eat if they're hungry and they get hungry if the food doesn't stay down! If you work I'm sure they'll get used to being fed three times a day. Oh and if they start showing interest in each others bowls then that means then they aren't hungry anymore and I remove whoever is being the pest from the room!

Meg is being fed more often and is shut in a bedroom overnight at the moment with her food. You can always experiment by feeding wet food because you can't leave that down anyway!
post #3 of 13
The last cat that moved in with me always eats his meal on the other side of the kitchen from all the rest. The reason it startd that way was to avoid fights, etc. since the other 15 weren't too happy about an interloper. That was over two years ago and he still eats his food in the same place.

I've tried to convince him that he can go on the other side of the kitchen for his meals, but he likes "his spot". My biggest problem now is making sure the others don't push him out of his dish. He is a 16 lb. Maine Coon with the mildest temperment and when any other cat wanders over to his dish he just lays down and lets them eat, so usually I will sit and watch to make sure none of my other "piggies" goes near his dish till he is finished.
post #4 of 13
Both of my cats are grazers. Since neither is overweight, I just leave the wet food out for them as long as they want. I do have to keep them in a separate room away from the dogs while they eat, though.

I free-feed dry kibble on high places where the dogs can't reach it.
post #5 of 13
In our home I have 2 kitties on 2 different foods. One likes to eat every couple of hours or so and the other has scheduled feedings. We don't allow free feeding as they'd both be as big as a barn if we did! For my grazer kitty, I put her food down when she's ready to eat, then watch her and pick it up when she's finished. We put it in a cabinet where the other kitty can't get to it. When we first got Hannah, we had to put her in a separate room with the door closed to eat. When Callie, our grazer, was finished, we'd pick up her food and let Hannah out. Now they can eat near each other, but Hannah will still eat her food, then move on to Callie's food if we don't supervise feeding time.
post #6 of 13
My two alternate between grazing and inhaling. They have scheduled breakfast and dinner and I do keep an eye on them to make sure someone's not going without, but for the most part they're pretty good at sticking to thier own bowls. FWIW, they eat about 2 feet from each other. They will pick at one another's food if there's some left, but I've foudn they're pretty good at hammering out thier own eating squabbles.

Freya grazes more often, but she also outranks Cotton, so he dosn't go near her bowl without permission.

I'd try it and see. You may end up with two kitties who at at the same speed.
post #7 of 13
I just put a can of cat food on 1 plate and spread it around-- my 2 cats sit on either side and eat it til it's gone.

I think if I had one cat they'd probably just nibble it but with 2 they know if they walk away, the other one will get more.
post #8 of 13
Ophelia is a very slow eater - I have multiple cats, and thankfully haven't had a problem so far with free feeding.
post #9 of 13
I have one healthy cat and couldn't free feed past around 9-10 months? The cat cannot self control her eating. Her breed may play a part, Sphynx are known for very high metabolisms and eating A LOT
post #10 of 13
I have 7 and I have not found any way to get them on a schedule. If I try putting food out at certain times and then taking it away half of them don't eat. So what I do is leave some food out all the time and then I give them canned food a few times a day. However I have 4 who are littermates and they mostly refuse to eat canned food at all. My 2-year-old Church also is very very picky with food (and won't eat treats at all.)
Only one of them is chubby, one of the 1-year-olds.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your replies!

I didn't want to make a new thread for this question, so I'm hoping this will be seen.

Have any of you found that having and maintaining a set schedule helps to having your cats eat better? Like if you came home two hours late from work, do they not seem to have such a big appetite than the two hours earlier? Just something I think I have noticed with Tofu here...if I'm late to feed him, sometimes it seems he just loses his appetite.
post #12 of 13
What do you mean by "eat better"? Eating more? I'm having some of the same issues as you...slow eaters and cats that need to eat separately.

I feed them 3 times a day (more for the wet food kitty). Having the schedule does NOT cause the cats to eat it all in one sitting, as I had hoped. I can't leave the food down, either, because they will eat each other's (different) foods. At the moment, one of the cats is not getting enough food because he prefers to graze and I can't leave the food down. I'm still trying to make this work out...

If I feed the cats late (more time between feedings), they tend to be hungrier.

Feeding multiple cats can really be a pain, eh?
post #13 of 13
I have one who grazes slowly and one who eats quickly and will push the other out of the way and eat hers, too, if she has a chance. So, slow grazer eats at elevation in the next room - a little harder to get to and she feels less pressure from the pushy snarfer, which helps. I also give the grazer her entire portion of wet food at one time, so she can just eat. I give the snarfer her portion in 3-4 rounds while the grazer slowly licks at her food. The extra bit of time to dish up a bit more food for each "serving" kills some time - the pushy snarfy girl know she's getting more so she doesn't bother the grazer, but it just slows her down a bit to give grazer more time. I just means I can't feed & wander off, I have to be present to keep an eye on things & notice when the snarfer is ready for second, thirds, sometimes fourths, but it doesn't take *that* long.
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