Having multiple cats in a home can pose a challenge when it comes to feeding. Whether you have a cat that is overweight, diabetic, allergic to a certain food, or perhaps just an aggressive eater, it may feel overwhelming at times. How can you control the feeding frenzy with multiple cats in the house to meet every cat’s feeding needs?
Free Feeding vs Meal Feeding
Many cats prefer to nibble at their food during the day rather than eat a meal all at once (known as free feeding). Feeding your cat by leaving food out all day means that you have fewer options for managing feeding. It’s best to move all of your cats to a meal feeding schedule where food is available only for a certain period of time.
Initially, have food available for 30 minutes then pick it up and put it away. This trains them to eat more at one setting. And use individual feeding dishes rather than one communal dish to more easily monitor food quantities for each cat. Your cats will adjust their eating schedule.
If you use meal feeding, one option is to stand guard during that feeding period to ensure that each cat gets only the food and quantity that they need. This isn’t ideal but it is simple.
For a fast eater who likes to finish off everyone’s food, consider using one or more of the many interactive cat feeders to slow their eating and give the other cats a chance to finish.
For a very overweight cat, feed the other cats up high to make the food bowl inaccessible to the less agile cat. Or create a feeding station so that the entrance to the feeding area is too narrow for the heavier cat. For ideas on slowing down eating and making meals more satisfying, check out this article on “Fat Cat Syndrome” (where one cat in a multi-cat household is overweight).
Modern pet feeders and tech tools can be hugely helpful in controlling multi-cat feeding scenarios so let’s start by looking at the gadget options.
Microchip/Collar Tag Pet Feeder: This handy pet feeder opens the feeding bowl based on your pet’s microchip ID or an RFID collar tag. The lid will only lift for the cat you give access to, blocking other animals from eating out of the bowl or eating from the other side. It closes if the cat moves away from the feeder. You can use one or set up a separate feeder for each cat.
Cat Mate Electromagnetic Cat Door: This door can be activated by your pet’s microchip, a collar tag or a timer that will lock or unlock the door at a set time. Install the door on a room door or create a feeding station by pairing this microchip controlled door on a large plastic storage box, or purchase this private feeding space that only allows specific cats inside.
Controlling the Frenzy
How can these high-tech pet feeding gadgets help with multi-cat feeding? Let’s walk through a few scenarios:
The Diabetic Cat or Cat with Food Allergy:
Diabetes in cats requires that food and insulin shots line up regularly. A food-stealing feline in the household, or giving the diabetic cat access to the wrong food, can endanger your cat’s health. Here are a few options:
Automatic Cat Door: Create a room or space that only the special-needs cat can access via the special cat door.
Automatic Feeder: Have one feeder that only opens for your diabetic cat. Or have feeders set for the other cats that the diabetic cat can’t access.
SAFETY TIP: It takes time for cats to get used to automatic feeders. This can pose a problem when you’re having to time your insulin shots for a diabetic cat. If the food bowl is causing them to not eat, this may not be the route to take. Perhaps having the other cats use an auto-feeder in order to keep the diabetic cat out would be best.
The Food-Aggressive Cat:
Automatic Feeder: Since the lid of the automatic feeder responds to a microchip, the feeder lid will close if the aggressive cat chases away the weaker cat.
The Overweight Cat:
Automatic Feeder: If each cat has their own feeder, you can control portion size for each cat. Since the overweight feline can’t eat from the other dishes due to microchip control, there is no option for overeating.
At Union Lake Pet Services, we’re happy to talk with you about your cat feeding needs and help you determine which option makes sense for you and your pets.