how to feed two cats separately
May 28, 2007 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I have two cats who are used to eating together. But one has a weight problem that needs to be controlled. How can I get them used to eating separately?

posted for a friend:

I have two cats, a 10-month old kitten and a 10-week old kitten. We got the 10-week old only a few weeks ago, but both cats are already close friends. Even though I tried to feed them in separate bowls to begin with, they quickly began eating out of the same bowl, making it impossible for me to tell how much food each is eating. The problem is, the 10-month old kitten is already a little overweight and will stop being a kitten fairly soon. She will have to be switched to adult cat food sometime soon, while the 10-week old will have to keep eating kitten chow for quite a while. I need to figure out how to get them eating out of separate food bowls and possibly at different times of day so that I can switch the older cat to regular cat food and control her weight.

The problem is, I have no clue how to do this. Currently, they eat only dry food (Iams Kitten food), which I leave available to them all day. I assume getting them used to timed feedings is part of the process, but what else should I do? How can I get my cats used to eating from separate bowls and leaving each other's food alone?
posted by logic vs love to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
separate the food bowls into different rooms and let one cat into that room at times when you'd like it to eat. Or keep one cat sequestered somewhere while the other eats, then sequester the other cat. Only give a small amount of food so they are each hungry and eat all the food when it is presented so you don't have to wait too long. It won't hurt for them not to eat for a day or so if they don't catch on right away to the change in routine. Once they are hungry enough, they will eat right away.
posted by cahlers at 11:50 AM on May 28, 2007

The easiest thing to do is probably going to be going to timed feedings shut in separate rooms. Put the cats in separate rooms, give them twenty minutes to eat their food, then take it away. They'll adjust and get used to eating in the required amount of time, and it's not a big deal if they go hungry for a day or so. However, it can be dangerous for cats to go more than a couple of days without eating - it does bad, irreversible things to their liver. So if they go on a hunger strike, after a couple of days you'll want to give them a small amount of whatever they'll eat, and then go back to the regime. Eventually they'll adjust.

Separating them is going to be key. It's hard for me to imagine you're ever going to get them used to eating out of separate bowls in the same room without getting into each other's dishes, unless they're much better behaved than any cats I've ever had/met. Unless perchance there is some part of your dwelling that one cat gets to and the other can't. For example, one of my cats requires different food than the rest, but she's also the best jumper, and there's a shelf she can get to that no one else can. So she gets fed up there.
posted by Stacey at 2:00 PM on May 28, 2007

We have a similar problem; one cat is a fatty, and the other needs to gain weight. We simply give them both the identical "diet" portion at regular mealtimes, but we have a secret stash in the bathroom and cat #2 (who needs to gain weight) is allowed in the bathroom when one or the other of us is taking a shower and allowed a small snack. So far (6 months in) our fat cat's weight has stabilized, if not decreased, and our skinny cat has put on a few pounds. She knows her treat is waiting for her in the bathroom, and he seems none the wiser that he's missing out.
posted by arnicae at 5:34 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

We have a 12 year-old lean cat and a 7 year-old fat cat, who is now on a diet. The lean cat can jump onto anything, but the fat cat can only jump a couple feet. So we put the lean cat's food on the workbench in the basement where he can get to it all the time. The fat cat is on special food that the lean (old) cat shouldn't eat. However, the lean cat REALLY wants to eat it, so we put him in the basement while the fat one eats for 20 minutes in the morning and evening.

I've discovered one cool trick, though. Just a fun Pavlov thing. After the fat cat is done eating, I leave a couple pieces of his fancy food out for the lean cat to eat when I let him out of the basement. The result is that now when I pull the bowl out to feed the fat cat, the lean one runs to the basement! He happily waits quietly to be let out and have his treat.

This is a little more work than free-feeding them was, but our fatty is losing weight and his skin is much healthier. The problem I can't solve yet is how to keep him from shouting at me for breakfast in the morning.
posted by aimless at 6:13 PM on May 28, 2007

Initially I tried the technique of playing with one cat while feeding the other cat in a seperate room. The technique was successful, but very time consuming.

In the end I stopped feeding the Iams food which I've noticed tends to make my cats a little chunky. After trying several different brands of cat food I ended up switching all three of my cats to Felidae which has a Cat/Kitten lamb and chicken kibble that is appropriate for for both adult cats and kittens.

I didn't need to use the weight loss formula, the regular Felidae kibble works just fine to maintain weight in my normal size cats and promote weight loss in my overweight cat.

I have found that Felidae seems to stablize all of my cats' weights. Unfortunately Felidae isn't found in most stores. I buy it online at Right now I only use the Felidae when my cats are starting to look chunky. I primarily feed Wysong Vitality kibble and Castor & Pollux Organix kibble as my main dry cat foods. (One of my cats will only eat dry food)
posted by alleycatd at 10:02 PM on May 29, 2007

I had to fatten up a skinny cat--which lead to a wet-food snack while locked up in the bathroom (we were in a studio apartment!) once a night. Now she's at a normal weight. My porky cat slimmed down with a "weight loss" food, and now everyone eats the same (recently switched to Evo).

For some unsolicited advice, we also have another cat who wasn't an overeater, just an under-exerciser. Having more active playtimes helped some of that. I'm sure the tiny one will get the chubby one moving enough to slim down naturally, eventually!
posted by atayah at 1:39 PM on May 31, 2007

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