3

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? – Monica Cellio Jan 6 '16 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. – Robert Cartaino Jan 6 '16 at 2:33
5

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

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 Jan 6 '16 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 Jan 6 '16 at 22:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.