According to U.S. AVMA pet ownership statistics, the average number of cats owned by one household is 1,8.
So cat owners rarely stop at 1 cat at home. However, having 2 or more cats in a household may become a real problem.
Two cats can’t have the same weight, appetite, eating pace and temperament. And the grass is always greener on the other site. That’s why you’ll always end up with one cat eating others food.
So they usually eat each other’s food. Such behavior shows that they don’t want to lose their resources. Cats are predators that used to live in the wild. So they know how important it is to control the territory and their prey.
Moreover, cats have different tempers. Some of them are more dominant than others. So taking control of other cats is in their nature. This may cause troubles because other cats will feel uncomfortable when approaching their bowl. So they will just sit and wait till more dominant cats finish eating.
You should also take into account your cats’ age and health condition. A healthy cat will obviously eat faster from 2 bowls at once.
So how to keep cats from eating each other’s food?
Being a cat mom for 30 years I found three solutions to this and I’m going to share these below.
Possible reasons of a cat stealing food from another cat
As I said before, cats tend to be mavericks. They think that everything is created for them and you are their servants who bring delicious food and fresh water.
So it is natural for them to eat food from all the containers in sight because it’s their ownership. The more dominant and selfish a cat is, the more often it behaves so.
These pets can eat each other’s food intentionally. If a cat did something irritative, another cat may eat its delicious dinner just to punish the brother or sister. Yes, cats can be vengeful sometimes. Moreover, it can teach you the same lesson if you did something wrong. Your other pets can replicate this habit and do the same in the future. So make sure your cats behave well.
Cats are curious creatures, so they try to know what’s inside the other cat’s bowl. This is particularly true for kittens that keep eating older cats food.
These pets think that there is something much better in another bowl. So they should definitely taste it too. If your cats stick to different diets, it may become a big problem. You will have to monitor your fluffies constantly while feeding them. I doubt that you have so much free time.
So how to stop cats from eating each other’s food? There are a couple of great solutions.
Solution1:Automatic feeder for multiple cats
Step1: Buy an automatic feeder for multiple cats
It is a great way not only to prevent your cats from eating each other’s food but also to set a special diet for all of them. They are equipped with a special automatic program that can set up to 32 specifications like SureFeed or PortionProRx Automatic Pet Feeder.
Pay attention to the feeders with RFID (radio frequency identification technology) tag collars. It can identify your cat as soon as it approaches the feeder. The system will easily scan the collar. A lid automatically opens as soon as the cat with the right tag comes up to the bowl. If it is another cat, the lid won’t open.
Moreover, the feeder self adjusts portions in accordance with diets of each of your cats. So if one of your pets eats less than usual, the system will add some food to the bowl.
Pay attention to a number of bowls, their capacity and material they are made of before buying the feeder.
Automatic feeders for multiple cats may help to solve the problem of eternal monitoring your cats. They will prevent a cat from stealing food from another cat. It is also important to locate your feeder correctly.
Step 2: Install the automatic feeder correctly
First of all, you should find the best place in your house to locate the feeder.
Monitor your cats’ behaviour. Where do they like to play most of all? Take your time and don’t rush into things. One of your cats may like a kitchen while another (or the others) may prefer a corridor or a dining room.
Then you must check if this place is safe enough. Make sure the surface is not slippery, and there are no fragile things around. You should also choose the room with enough space and good air conditioning to be sure your pets will stay healthy and safe.
Program the schedule and make a test feeding. Check if your cats need more space, how fast they eat and how the identifying microchip works. Some users state that automatic cat feeders don’t work well for extremely aggressive cats. So you should give it a try and monitor your cats’ behaviour during the first week.
Try to test the automatic feeder on your cats separately. Find out which cat got used to it more quickly, and which problems had another one. This may help you to rearrange the schedule and correct the feeding plan.
Step 3: Choose the right food
Of course, automatic cat feeders are a great solution to the problem we discuss. But you can also prevent the problem and make your cats’ life twice as safe as it was. It is of great importance when your cat is stealing food from another cat. For instance, you have a grown-up cat and a kitten. The first one eats ordinary food while the second one requires a special diet.
Moreover, many cats have such diseases as diabetes, different allergies, or they can be just obese, overweight or should be contrarily fattened up. Cat owners take into account all these peculiarities and feed their fluffies according to their health problems.
It is not a huge problem for a young healthy cat to eat balanced kitten’s food. Still, it can be dangerous for a kitten to eat food that you give to your grown-up fluffy.
The solution is simple. You should choose food that corresponds to the needs of all of your cats. It will be a difficult but rewarding task. Search for such products, read the description thoroughly and learn about all the specifics of the feed. Make a test feeding first. Give a small portion to all your cats and monitor their behaviour. It is better to do it with your vet assisting.
Solution 2: Install automatic pet doors
Step 1: Consider automatic pet doors
Make sure your fluffies are far away from each other when it’s feeding time. Automatic pet doors with a microchip can be a great solution. You can install them in the interior wall or panel. It depends just on where you want to locate the food for your thin cat. Another way to locate the automatic pet door is your garage. You can feed a more calm cat there. Backyard or laundry is also a good choice.
You must choose the best place for your cat. Find a warm and cosy location where your cat feels relaxed. Test a couple of places in your house first. You obviously know your pet very well, so it will be easy to understand which place is it’s favorite.
The benefit of this solution is that your cat will have enough space to eat in a calm and cosy environment. It won’t have to fight for a place under the sun. Moreover, you can place an automatic feeder in the room. So you won’t need to enter the placement often to place some more food.
This solution is perfect for cats who get nervous when other pets are around and have some eating disorders.
Step 2: Choose the best automatic pet door for your needs
I’ve made a list of the best automatic pet doors on the market right now. Pay attention to the description of the product to choose the best variant.
The pet door system uses your cat’s microchip to unlock the door. It’s purrrfect for cats that don’t like to wear collar tags. The SureFlap Microchip Pet Door has an RFID system and features the selective entry. It means that only a cat with a programmed and launched microchip can go through the door.
It also works with a radio frequency identification technology. The door is equipped with an outdoor and indoor antenna which can help you to monitor your cat’s movements. The SureFlap DualScan Microchip Cat Door has a double-lock system that prevents outdoor animals from accessing the room.
It uses an electromagnetic system to let your cat go inside. You’ll need a specific collar with a magnet on it. It works as an identification tag. The door has a control panel which is activated when the magnet triggers the system to open. Then a cat can easily enter the door with its head or nose.
Step 3: Install the automatic pet door correctly
Read the manual to do it right. You should take into account your cat’s size. First of all, find the best location for the pet door.
You have to do all the calculations properly to make everything work.
- Mount the upper part of the door 1/2″ to 2″ above the pet’s shoulders.
It is needed to make sure your cat can easily lower its head and go through the door.
- Make sure the construction is securely fastened.
If it moves, it can frighten your pet. Cats may have some problems when learning how to use it. Still, after a couple of test entries, any pet will easily walk in.
- Make sure you added approximately 4″ to the dimensions of the size of your automatic pet door.
It will guarantee the system works well.
- Do not cut the opening for the door through the wall beforehand.
Purchase the door, make all the calculations, place it on the wall and outline it with a pencil. Now you can start the process.
- Do not focus on the sizes mentioned on sites.
Sometimes they differ because manufacturers or sellers make a mistake when describing their product.
Solution 3: Separate the cats
Step 1: Create a daily timed feeding schedule
Your cats always think that there is something more delicious and exciting in another bowl. So it is important to change their eating habits and feeding schedule.
Having bowls full of food all day is bad for your pet’s eating behaviour. You won’t understand how much each of your cats eats separately.
Read the description on the food label to know the appropriate portion for your cats. It is always useful to divide this amount of food into 2 or 3 parts. Such a method will help you to know that your cats always have enough food and are not hungry. So they won’t have to steal each other’s dinner.
At first, your cats won’t be happy with these changes, especially if they ate whenever they wanted. But soon they’ll get used to the new schedule. Your pets will realize that crying and behaving bad won’t influence the amount of food provided. They will learn that food appears in a bowl at specific times each day.
A daily routine is what all the pets need, especially the dominant ones. Soon they will know that if they behave well and eat the portions only in their bowl, they will be rewarded.
Step 2: Separate cats when it’s feeding time
This method is simple and effective. Moreover, it is cheap as you won’t even have to buy an automatic feeder for this purpose.
As soon as your cats get used to a new feeding schedule, it will be easier for them to accept all the new rules.
This solution is good for slow cats or fluffies that are on a special diet.
Choose 2 (or more if you have more cats) places to locate bowls with food. Make sure these rooms are safe and put the portions prescribed for each of your cats to the bowls. It is very important not to mix up bowls or food. So write down everything you have to remember in a notebook or in your phone.
The doors of the rooms must be closed tight. If it is not possible, then you must monitor your cats to make sure they don’t eat each other’s food. Once your cats finish their meal, remove the bowls.
Cat feeding boxes with RFID may be an alternative solution if you don’t have enough space to separate cats. You can make it of wood or plastic containers and put the bowl inside. All you need is an electromagnetic scanner that identifies your cat’s RFID collar tag.
You can also use the High Low feeding method. Just feed one cat on a chair or a sofa, and another one eats on the floor. It is a perfect method for people who have a cat that doesn’t like to jump.
Step 3: Always clean up and pick up food bowls
Separating your cats is not enough. A clean bowl is a guarantee your cat won’t overeat. It is a very important step at the beginning of the new feeding schedule introduction. Your cats must know that as soon as they stop eating and leave the bowl, there will be no more food left. Their bowls will be emptied and cleaned.
It is important not only to empty but to clean the bowl at once.
Cats have a very strong sense of smell so they will think that there’s something left in the bowl. This can disorient them. Your pets may feel stressed and confused. It can cause much more troubles than eating disorders.
So cleaning the bowl guarantees your cat won’t linger when finishing its dinner.
Make sure you clean the floor near the bowl as well. Not all cats avoid messy food, so it can be difficult to scrape the remains from the floor. Moreover, the food may stick to cat’s paws. Your cats always lick themselves. So there is a chance that they may eat the remains of spoiled food and get poisoned.
Always monitor your cats’ behavior when they eat, and the results will be rewarding!
Preventing cats from eating each other’s food can become a real pain for all of us. Still, there are different methods to solve this problem.
You can buy an automatic cat feeder or pet door. However, there is a much cheaper method of separating your cats in different rooms or monitoring them while they are eating. It may take more time but it will save you money.
No matter which method you choose, remember that preventing this bad habit is very important. It will make your cat healthier and happier. No more overeating, just a balanced diet and happy cats around!