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My vet recently put two (of our four) cats on a prescription diet. We're having trouble getting all of the cats to accept it, and it would be easier (now and in the future) if everyone ate off of their own bowls so that we could track food consumption easier.

Another wrinkle is that we're moving in 6 months and I'd like to not have to totally retrain them when we move.

My husband wondered if we could train each cat to their own colored tray? I'm willing to try that, but also open to other suggestions.

  • Please no jokes about cats being untrainable. We teach ours voice commands and stuff, you just have to be patient and persistent. – Zaralynda Mar 7 '15 at 19:00
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Since I was asked... I'll change my comment to an answer. :)

One the easiest ways to train is through repetitive rote behavior. For example, when we feed our cats, they both wait at the same place to get their dishes and always start from the same place. They only move around later when they come back for a second bite and that's because they can. That leads me to consider something like the Wonder Bowl Selective Pet Feeder as a good way to reinforce the concept of whose dish is whose. If the cat can only every get food from one particular dish and not another, then it will reinforce in them the idea that they need to go to that dish and only that dish.

With respect to the idea that another cat could come along while the first is still feeding it's been my experience that cats aren't very tolerant of it. Not completely impossible, but if the first cat wanders away as a result, the dish closes anyways.

  • We ended up buying one of these for Hunter, and it's worked pretty well at giving him food without the others accessing it! – Zaralynda May 5 '15 at 18:21
  • @Zaralynda - yep, same basic concept. Did you chip him or just go with the collar tag? – John Cavan May 5 '15 at 18:29
  • He was chipped by the rescue 11 years ago and the bowl read the chip just fine! – Zaralynda May 5 '15 at 18:33
  • Nice! Kind of a handy way to go there. – John Cavan May 5 '15 at 18:34
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Cats do not have a very good color perception. All cats seem to prefer blue if they can choose between colours. They cannot discriminate red from other colours very good. So if you want them to recognise their bowl the best thing is to offer them bowls with a different shape. But from my experience I doubt this will work. What probably works is a specific place for each cat.

When the brother of our cat was still alive, they used to eat at specific places about 1.5 m apart. They ate from their bowl, but only until one of them had finished his part. Then he, of course, went over to his brothers bowl to steal something if possible.

Best thing is to put something between the eating cats so they can't see each other. This reduces their thoughts of stealing from each other. This could be a very small folding screen to build up four feeding compartments.

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We have rabbits which in my opinion are bit more trainable than cats. The are all rescues and have different dietary needs. They have constant access to hay that they share, but their twice daily feedings of pellets need to be different. The are several other considerations as well, but in short:

We use a carrier to separate feeding areas when it is breakfast or dinner time, they each run to "their" carrier and eat "their" meal. A side effect of this training; it is very easy to get them in a carrier when needed. In our case the more dominant bunny (Harmony) finishes eating prior to the more submissive bunny (Tigger), we usually close without latching the door to Tigger's carrier. Tigger can swing the door open to get out, but Harmony can not push it open to get in.

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