Is it "more natural" (or behaviorally preferable) for two domestic cats to eat together… or to feed them separately?

I have two cats, and one of them is what I would call an… aggressive eater. He's always been that way. I took him in as a young stray born of a feral parents, but I managed to domesticate him to be one of the sweetest cats you will ever know.

But feeding times brings out his posturing, and meals are consumed with a constant growling under his breath and guarded glances towards his happily-feeding companion like someone is going to take away his last meal for awhile. Of course that never happens; there is plenty for all.

My thinking was that teaching them to eat together would be a useful part of his social domestication… but a year later without success, I'm wondering if the potential sense of well-being is worth the stress of something he may never overcome. It has never escalated into anything physical — the other cat basically ignores him — and they get along famously in every other way.

Is there a better way to help assure him that the posturing is completely unnecessary? Is it even considered "better adjusted" if they can eat together? Or am I going against some basic instinct where they would be better off feeding separately?

  • How close together are they when you feed them now? Same dish, bowls next to each other, opposite ends of the same room, or what? Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 2:22
  • @MonicaCellio It's a double dinner stand with two bowls; essentially two bowls right next to each other. Trying two completely separate bowls spread some distance apart didn't seem to placate him any. I've never tried two separate rooms thinking I didn't want to reinforcing that sense that he should have to hide when eating. Maybe that's not a thing I should be trying to teach at all (hence my question). I'm not trying to force unnatural behaviors on my feline, but I'm willing to put in the time if teaching him this will make a more content kitty in the longer term. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


Single stand with two bowls forces them into close proximity. Move one of the bowls away and the issue will decrease. Move it out of line of sight and the problem will vanish, but that isn't always convenient.

If you want to train acceptance of the single stand (I wouldn't, personally), start by backing off to what the cats consider a polite distance and move in gradually over the course of several months, paying attention to what the cat is telling you is and isn't acceptable.

Don't force it; some cats, especially ex-ferals, never get over feeling that if they don't defend their food someone else will take it

  • 1
    Put one of the bowls in a box with one side cut out, the other just outside. Bowls are close, but nobody can see the other bowl or cat out of the corner of their eye while eating.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:02
  • That's certainly one way to create separation when you can't do it with space. In my case, when they're feeling grumpy with each other after a vet visit, I just put one bowl around the counter corner -- two more feet of space and no eye contact.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 22:36
  • Is this necessary for every cat? I have two female cats, they get along, eat without issues, but am I doing wrong in feeding them together? they have automatic feeders but next to each other, will it be better if I separate the feeders? Sorry for hijacking the post!
    – DJ22T
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 0:12
  • Not all cats object to proximity when eating; mine didn't. You may find that they are more inclined to overeat if they're concerned that the other might want their leftovers.... Or you may not. I wouldn't stress about it, but you can certainly experiment with separating the bowls more and watch whether they seem to care.
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 1:09

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