While keeping track of one cat's dietary requirements can be challenging enough, feeding multiple cats in the same household can sometimes start to feel like the impossible task.
This can be the case when each kitty requires a special diet or has their individual preferences for devouring their meal come dinner time. Not to mention expense; it's likely you're considering what's the most affordable cat food or feeding method you can use to keep both you and your furkids happy.
Then, there's the behavioral problems. You may have one or two greedy cats always fighting over food at mealtimes, in which case, you’ll need to feed your felines separately. In most cases, it may often feel like monitoring a school playground!
If this sounds a bit like your household, here are some useful tips on how to go about feeding your feline friends and create a harmonious and happy home!
When to feed cats separately?
Depending on your group of cats there are several scenarios when you should feed your cats separately. The most common time is when one or more cats have a medical condition or overweight. This means they should be fed correctly with a special diet or controlled portions during mealtimes.
The same applies if your kitty needs medication mixed in with their food which would avoid it being ingested by another. Other factors include the different ages of your brood which would need different life-stage foods, and the problematic cat-fights over food or the bowl.
How to feed cats separately
The easiest is to feed them in separate rooms with the doors closed. However, if you can’t do this, you can still feed the cats in the same room, but at different times. Still ensure others are kept out.
Another option is to feed your feline pals on different levels to suit their agility. For senior cats who are not overly active, you can place food on the ground. While the more energetic, playful cats can feast higher up on a table or sturdy shelving unit. What’s more, you can divide up a space with baby gates at mealtimes, if you lack space.
Can cats share from the same bowl?
It’s highly recommended by vets and behavioral experts for cats to have their own separate bowls. Having their own bowls means you can control each diet and portion according to their life-stage. While it’s fine for two cats to eat the same food now and again, you’d still need to closely monitor, as this might change as they grow older.
What's the most affordable way to feed multiple cats?
A microchip cat flap is an effective way to feed multiple cats as it can control which cats enter each room. The food can then be separated according to dietary v normal cat food in each location.
If you're not looking to splash out on a microchip cat flap, then you could try other low-budget ways of restricting the rooms. You could use a door stop to prevent larger cats from entering, for instance.
There's always making your smaller cat a special feeding station too out of a cardboard box. Simply cut a small hole in the box that's accessible to your smaller cat to block the larger cat from entering.
Can you use multiple cat feeding stations?
If you have cats with specific dietary needs, you might want to consider automatic feeders to only allow specific cats in. This is an effective way to ensure each cat has access to their own food and the right amount. It’s simple to use by pairing the feeders to open for your cat’s microchip or RFID tag. Plus, it’s a handy way to feed more than one cat at the same time (peacefully!).
How to transition multiple cats from free feeding
If your group of felines have become accustomed to eating food when they feel like it, the transition to set meal feeding can take some getting used to.
Firstly, plan out a mealtime schedule and the number of meals you can provide a day. Typically, most cats aged from six months to maturity can be fed twice a day. Then you’ll need to consider the location for each cat, showing them where they will now be eating on a daily basis. Cats don’t usually like to eat near their litter tray, so it’s ideal to place bowls a few feet away from the litter tray. You might find the best cat treats can be a great (and tasty) incentive for an easy transition!
What is the best feeding schedule for multiple cats?
Typically, cats should eat at least two meals each day, 12 hours apart. So this could include a breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner, and a before bed schedule. Bear in mind, if there are more than 12 hours between meals, this can result in stomach issues causing hyperacidic and nausea. This is also the case for over-eating at any one meal.
For most owners of multiple-cat households, making the transition to meal feeding can take some time. But with patience and lots of love and attention, your feline friends will be comfortable with the new routine. Remember to stick to it and mealtimes will run smoothly. Plus, it will make delicious mealtimes and treats something for your cat family to look forward to!
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Cynthia Lawrence is freelance lifestyle journalist. Starting off her career in national magazines, she moved to digital and e-commerce publications. When she's not reviewing exciting products, she is obsessed with home interiors and her neighbour's cat!