As pet parents, it warms our hearts to see our cats doing things together, like eating, sleeping and grooming. However, cats don’t hunt together in the wild. It doesn’t take a pack of cats to catch an insect or rodent, their main prey.
Cats instinctively remove their prey from other cats to eat so they can get enough nourishment. When we expect our cats to eat side-by-side, we may be setting them up for conflict or stress. This can lead to illness.
If you have more than one cat, watch your cats’ body language while they eat. If they aren’t completely relaxed and focused on their food while eating, instead of watching out for your other cats, they may not feel safe enough to eat as much as they need.
Watch also for food bullying, even if accidental. Confident and highly food-motivated cats may naturally push shy ones out of the way. If any of them stops and darts away in the middle of eating, you may need to give that one a different space.
Try giving the shy ones a dish a few feet away from the main feeding station. They may not be the only one of your clowder to benefit from having another safe place to eat.
You may need a separate feeding station per cat, much like with litter boxes. Some cats may even benefit from being fed in a completely different room.
Again, this is just insurance for preventing possible conflicts over food, even if they don’t seem intentional on the part of your other cats.
Please make sure the bowls are fresh by changing them out every few days. It’s hard for a cat to groom the very bottom of his chin, which can lead to feline acne.
A clean bowl will keep bacteria from building up and make sure the food tastes fresh. Ceramic and stainless steel bowls harbor less bacteria than plastic ones.
Bowl shape and size are important too. A bowl should be big and shallow enough that your cats’ whiskers don’t touch the sides.
Cat whiskers are extremely sensitive and they will try to hold them back from touching the bowl. This whisker stress can make it difficult to eat or drink while straining to do that.
Don’t forget their water! Did you know that cats will drink more water if it’s separate from their food source?
Also, placing several water bowls around the house ensures regular access to water as well as backup sources should one get tipped over.
Cats were originally desert animals so they may not drink as much as they should. Offering more water choices will encourage all your cats to get the water they need.
Water fountains can be a great way to get your cats to drink more. Look for a simple fountain with few parts so it is easy to clean every few days. We love our Leo’s Paw fountains for that reason.
Not all cats are attracted to the sound of running water, so start out with a quiet fountain. When you introduce your new fountain, keep their regular water bowls in the same place and put the fountain in a different spot.
Cats appreciate slow changes and choices, so keeping both options will give them time to decide if they like the fountains well enough to replace the bowls.