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Feeding Multiple Cats: Vet-Approved Mealtime Strategies

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

cats eating

Feeding Multiple Cats: Vet-Approved Mealtime Strategies


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Owning more than one cat can have its joys and its frustrations. Feeding multiple cats certainly has its challenges. You’re dealing with various personalities and feeding habits and sometimes, different diets.

If you’re someone who is owned by more than two cats and you’ve been struggling with mealtime, here are a few tips on navigating this complicated situation. Hopefully, you’ll come out unscathed in the end!

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Feeding Multiple Cats

There are several challenges to deal with when feeding three or more kitties, though these depend on the cats’ temperaments, dietary needs, the size of the feeding area, and the number of dishes that you have.

Feeding Stations

The most effective strategy is typically to set up feeding stations and feed your cats separately. For example, you can put each cat in a separate room and keep the door closed while they eat.

If you don’t have the space to feed your cats in separate rooms, just place the food bowls as far away from each other as possible. You can also try using a room divider so the cats won’t see each other while eating. However, without a door to separate the cats, you’ll need to monitor them to ensure that they only eat from their own bowls. Once they have finished eating, remove the bowls.

You should also feed each cat in the same spot every time, which helps set up a routine so they know what to expect.

side view of tabby cat eating pet food from feeding bowl on white background
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Feeding Schedule

Feeding schedules can simplify feeding multiple cats. Prepare the meals beforehand, and once everything is ready, let the cats into the room.

The feeding schedule shouldn’t allow the cats to get too hungry, as this might increase the risk of aggressive behavior before and during mealtime.

Speak to your vet about your cats’ feeding schedule and what they recommend for how much and how often your pets should be fed.

Transitioning to a Feeding Schedule

Before transitioning from food always being available to having set mealtimes, check in with your vet.

Ensure that you can stick with the schedule; there should always be someone available to feed your cats at the same times every day.

It’s recommended that cats should have at least two meals per day, but three would be ideal.

Let your cats eat for 20 to 30 minutes, and then remove the bowls until the next mealtime.

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How to Put Only One Cat on a Diet When You Have Multiple Cats

Separating the cats and adopting a feeding schedule is vital if you have one or more cats on a specific diet.

These can include:
  • Cats with health conditions that must eat a specific diet
  • Cats with food allergies
  • Cats with weight issues that need to eat less
  • Cats on medication that is mixed into the food

It’s paramount that any cat with these issues only eat from their own bowl, and the rest of the cats should not be eating from it.

tabby cat eating on metal bowl
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

Feed at Different Heights

This is a good option if you have a cat with mobility issues or one that is overweight and unable or less likely to jump up to a high level.

You can put food on a counter or table or even a cat tree, so the younger or more physically able cats can get to the food but not the cat that needs a separate diet. However, this will all still require supervision.

Use a Baby Gate

You can use a baby gate to block off the feeding station for the younger and/or slimmer cats, as it will be difficult for the older or overweight cat to jump over.

Feed Them With Supervision and Distractions

If you have the time, feed the cats while you supervise them in case any issues occur. If one cat tries to encroach into your other cat’s feeding area, use distraction to stop them. You can use a toy and engage in a play session while your other cat finishes their meal.

If one of the cats doesn’t eat everything in the bowl, you should take it off the floor so the other cats won’t eat the leftovers.

Feed Them at Different Times

Feed your cats in a room with a door but only one at a time. Feed your first cat while the other cats wait outside, and once cat number one has finished, cat number two gets their dinner, and so on.

This is a good option if you only have one room from which you can feed your cats and the space is too small to allow as much separation as you need.

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How to Deal With Issues That Might Crop Up

Any issues that can occur depend on your cats. If one attempts to steal another’s food, you’ll need to use separate rooms and a feeding schedule. The same goes for food aggression, so you’ll want to keep your cats physically far from each other at mealtime. This is particularly important if one of your cats is easily stressed.

If you have dogs or babies in the home in addition to the multiple cats, you can use the same advice. That said, certain at-home devices might be able to help.

Two cats being fed cat food from a tin can
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

Helpful Devices

There are a few devices that can make mealtime in multi-cat homes more manageable. If you have a cat that eats too quickly and immediately tries to steal everyone else’s food, you can try using a slow feeder.

A cheaper option is to put a small bowl upside down inside a larger bowl and add the cat food, which can also help slow down eating.

If you can afford it, try a microchip feeder, which responds to a specific RFID tag on your cat’s collar. The feeder keeps the food covered and will open for a specific cat only and close when they are finished eating.

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It can be chaotic in a multi-cat home during mealtime. Domestic cats tend to be solitary, particularly when hunting and eating, so they naturally prefer to eat alone.

Just be patient and consider making a point of creating a new feeding schedule and way of doing things. It might be challenging to begin with, but your cats will adjust. Don’t forget to consult with your veterinarian!

Featured Image Credit: Taras Vyshnya, Shutterstock

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