Fuckin' cats, Donny.
September 22, 2009 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Question about the feeding of two cats on different diets.

We adopted two cats last week, Doppler (6 months) and Maxwell (about a year). The rescue told us to keep Doppler on kitten food until he's a year old, so we've been putting out a bowl of kitten and a bowl of adult cat food. Problem is, Maxwell really loves the kitten food and has been muscling Doppler out of the way to get at it first.

We feed them twice a day, and the bowls do not get devoured entirely at once - there's often a little bit of each food left when I get home from work. I've tried feeding Max first with the adult food, but he won't touch it until the kitten food is presented. Trying to sequester Doppler and the kitten food behind a closed door has been hit-and-miss, since Max gets underfoot and won't leave me alone until the kitten food is on the ground. When they both get put down at the same time, both cats will eat some of each food.

So, two part question. First, is it bad for the older cat to be eating kitten food or for the kitten to be eating adult food? Second, how can I prevent them from eating each other's food with a minimum of fuss?
posted by backseatpilot to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
My pal puts the kitten on the top of the fridge, while the big cat eats ob the floor.
posted by Sully at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2009


Kitten food is richer than adult food, so it shouldn't form the core of an older cat's diet. Separate the cats at the main feeding -- put Doppler on the fridge, or even make a box with a hole only he can fit into -- but give Max a few pieces of kitten food mixed with adult food so he doesn't whine. A little bit won't hurt him.
posted by maudlin at 4:00 PM on September 22, 2009


Seeing as how Maxwell is only a year old, I'd just let them both eat kitten food for six months, then switch them to adult.
posted by misha at 4:24 PM on September 22, 2009


On the upside, your cats will both eventually be eating the same food - this situation will not last forever.

The kitten food will not hurt the older cat, FWIW. Over time, it may make them fat, tho.

I solve this issue by feeding (when I have time) BOTH cats a raw food diet once per day. There are raw food products available in the frozen section at most health food stores and Whole Foods - I didn't bother with those, but I am sure they work.

Raw ground organic chicken or turkey meat + (self) ground organic chicken livers + some wakame seaweed. Also, (self) pulverized egg shells, + some steel cut oats. Everything in the food processor in batches, then into baggies and into the freezer.

TOTALLY a pain, I know. But I had an obese silver tabby at one point back in the day, and I just didn't want a repeat of that mishigas. Isolating fatty tabby from the other cats was impossible - it was so much easier to feed everybody the same healthful food.

YMMV. I always supplement with dry food (good brand.) It's just always out for them to snack on. No one over-eats the dry because the raw food is nutritious.

And when I'm lazy - the cats get fancy feast (junk food!) or upscale organic canned once per day.

Alternatively, your Kitten will be fine on "adult food." Don't worry.

Just go for quality, regardless.
posted by jbenben at 4:29 PM on September 22, 2009


We've got cats on different diets and we have to physically isolate them when we feed them, since they'd rather be eating each other's food. We only set out about enough for them to finish at one sitting. Sometimes they wind up snagging a bite of the other cat's food—we can live with that.
posted by adamrice at 4:31 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a good quality food that is meant for both kittens and adults? I have 3 cats -- mommy (2 years old or so) and her 2 kittens (7 months). All three eat Orijen, "biologically appropriate dry cat food -- cat and kitten formula". I love this stuff -- it is 75% protein, no by-products, and their coats are sleek and glossy. The cats like it too, and no, I don't work for the company.
posted by cgg at 4:32 PM on September 22, 2009


When they both get put down at the same time, both cats will eat some of each food

So just stand in between them so they can't do that. Then when feeding time is over (generally ten minutes or so) take the remaining food away, they only get to eat while you watch. Feed them twice a day like this and they'll soon figure out that if they want to eat they finish what's in their own bowl during the given time. Once they're on the same food then you can go back to letting them graze if you like but really, supervised feeding twice a day works fine and is really no big deal.

Kitten food is higher calorie than adult food, plus often has more calcium and things. This is a good thing because your kitten is still growing. Not so great for the adult because it'll make them fat. Some cross over is fine given how young your older cat is, but you never know if or when they may end up needing different types or amounts of food again in the future so you might as well teach them to eat separately. You may not need to keep the little one on the kitten food for a full year either, many cat breeds stop growing around 7-8 months and you can swap then.
posted by shelleycat at 4:43 PM on September 22, 2009


We feed three different diets to seven different cats. Five of them get Orijen, one gets one type of Royal Canin veterinary diet and the last gets another Royal Canin vet diet. They are fed three times a day, for about 45 minutes at a stretch. The five get fed in the dining room, and the other two get separated into different small dog crates to eat.

Obviously, with cats that will be eating the same diet in a few months, buying a crate is not ideal, but if you happen to have a crate or a cat carrier, you might try feeding the younger cat in that for the interim.
posted by crankylex at 4:54 PM on September 22, 2009


I have two cats who are also on different dinner (they eat the same dry food in the morning) diets (regular/urinary tract) with the added wrinkle that the younger eats all of his food in about two minutes and then heads for the older cat's bowl, who is much too kind to this stealer of food, and also takes longer to finish his meal. The only solution that I've found is to feed them in separate rooms. It rarely takes the older cat more than 15 minutes to finish his meal so it works well.
posted by eunoia at 5:40 PM on September 22, 2009


So just stand in between them so they can't do that. Then when feeding time is over (generally ten minutes or so) take the remaining food away, they only get to eat while you watch.

This is what I had to do when I had one cat on prescription diet and the other on regular food. My cats are old and set in their ways and will not tolerate being in separate rooms--if I try to do that they ignore the food and scratch at the door, one on each side. So basically, yeah, just stand there and monitor them and if one tries to eat the other's food, shoo him away. Definitely less fun for you, though.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:10 PM on September 22, 2009


If you put them in separate rooms, you'll have to grab the one who's being fed second a few times, but they learn really fast if you wave the dish around a little that, hey, their food is going into this other room and they'd better come with you to get it.
posted by larkspur at 4:04 AM on September 23, 2009


I tried separating them again this morning, and it seemed to work well. Fed Max first and he went right to his bowl, ignoring me while I poured out the kitty chow and gave it to Doppler in the bedroom. It's actually the first time I noticed Doppler finish all of his food in one sitting, so maybe they're still a little anxious about each other. Thanks for the advice!
posted by backseatpilot at 4:58 AM on September 23, 2009


I've seen hundreds of beautiful, happy, healthy cats in 3rd world countries that survive mainly on garbage. Kitten food/cat food is almost certainly a step up, no matter which way you go (depending on the garbage, I suppose).

That said, I have to feed my 3 cats separately or the 2 greedy ones will eat the timid one's food, and she won't get anything. It's a PITA, but in the grand scheme of things, could be worse.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:42 PM on September 23, 2009


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