Some comments and answers in a previous question of mine mention that I shouldn't allow my cats to eat out of a single dish because of disease risks.

Honestly, I find it difficult to believe that cats who share water fountains and spend all day grooming, wrestling, and snuggling have an increased risk of disease from sharing a food dish, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Are there health and/or additional behavior problems that can arise from sharing a food dish?

  • 1
    On the scale of possible disease sharing it would be higher than sharing a cat tree, but a lot lower than sharing a litter box. Personally I don't see it as a big deal.
    – Oldcat
    Dec 20, 2014 at 0:18

3 Answers 3


I don't think the disease risk is any higher with an animal sharing a food bowl, but I think it can cause behavioral problems. A cat thinks of his bowl as a 'kill' site. So, to your cat, he's having to share his kill with another cat and he's going to resent it. Even if he doesn't you have to deal with one cat being edged out and the other cat possibly preventing him from eating. You also have to keep that bowl full all the time to insure they're both able to eat. This can lead to an overweight cat, or a more over weight cat in most peoples cases.

I think that whether you do scheduled feedings or free feed, that you need to have one food container for each animal. I don't feel that the water dish has the same taboo for them.

Just as a reference I was looking into cats considering their food bowl as their kill site, because I noticed that while my cat has a water dish in the same stand as his food bowl, he'd go outside to drink out of he dogs water bowl or to the bowl we brought inside for them when they come in in the winter. I read that cats feel like any food they eat, no matter how dead a kibble is, they consider it a 'kill' and feel it contaminates their drinking source. So that's why he goes to a different water source and also why I think it could cause potential aggression issues for you that are easily avoided with a second, cheap dish.


Mine do just fine with a single dry-food dispenser -- in fact, I've seen them explicitly negotiate taking turns. But they're siblings, and they trust that there's no shortage of food; other cats may feel differently about it.

I do use two bowls for wet food, but that's partly for differential feeding (one gets a supplement) and partly because they both love the "gravy" and would argue over it if not shared out.

Do what works for your clowder.


Nope! There's no reason to try and get cats to eat out of only their bowls. In fact, there is little point in trying to designate bowls for each cat.

We have, well, I can't actually tell you how many cats we currently have - I'll just say it is a "few."

They eat out of whatever bowl is closest and if one takes over someone's bowl, the previous owner just moves on to another bowl.

There is absolutely no reason to have any concerns about cats eating out of the same bowl.

There are a lot question posted here asking about how to get a cat to eat only out of his or her bowl.

You can't, there's no point in trying, there is no benefit from it, it is just a waste of time.

Another question that gets asked a lot as to separate items for each cat.

How many litter boxes should you have? That's a frequent question.

The most popular (but not necessarily correct) answers are one litter box for each cat or one litter box for each cat plus one more.

The correct answer - as many as you need in order to be able to keep them clean based upon the load imposed by the number of cats.

There was a time, long ago and not for very long, we had 15 cats. Had we tried to have one liter box for each cat, we would not have had anyplace to put them all. Instead we had two very large busboy boxes - used to clear off tables at restaurants - about 30 inches by 18 inches and about 6 inches deep.

Cats will share things like bowls and litter boxes just fine.

You might find the cats likes having food and water at more than one place around the house and, if you want to, you can cater to their whims.

If you have a large house, maybe an extra litter box would be good - but regardless of how many you have they must be kept clean.

Go ahead and let anyone eat of any bowl they want to. If the other cat disagrees, they will work it out between themselves.

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