How to Feed Multiple Cats Different Diets: 5 Strategies

If you’ve got more than one cat you’ll know just how difficult it can be to feed them either different diets or different amounts.  Well in this video I’m going to give you 5 strategies for how to feed multiple cats different amounts and how to keep cats from stealing and eating each others food.


Why feed multiple cats differently?

There can be a number of different reasons why you might want to feed your cat different amounts or different diets:

  • It might be that one of your cats is overweight and the other one is a healthy weight or too thin so you need to feed different amounts.

  • You might have cats of different ages and need to feed one a kitten food and one adult food.

  • It might even be that one cat is unwell or suffers from a medical condition that means they need to be fed a special prescription diet but your other cats are perfectly healthy and you want to continue feeding a normal, cheaper, maintenance diet.

How to Feed Multiple Cats Different Diets

Microchip Cat Bowl

My first way to feed multiple cats different diets or control how much each cat eats is to use an automatic microchip cat feeder (check them out on amazon here).  This is the most expensive option but also probably the simplest and most reliable depending on your lifestyle and your cats eating habits.

An automatic microchip cat feeder will only open and allow a cat to eat that has the microchip that has been programmed into the unit.  While it is best if your cat is microchipped, there are also collar tags that can be used instead.

When your cat tries to ear from the bowl, their chip is scanned and if they are allowed to eat from that bowl the covers will open automatically.  If they are not allowed to eat from that bowl then the cover will remain closed.

Microchip Cat Flap

A slightly cheaper, but equally effective way to feed multiple cats differently is to use a microchip cat flap (or magnetic cat door) to control which cats can enter a certain room.  You could for example only allow your healthy cats into the laundry to eat normal food and have the prescription diet down in the kitchen.

This would of course allow all your cats to eat the prescription diet.  This is highly unlikely to cause them any kind of health problem. By and large they are designed to be complete diets suitable for all adult cats - you should be careful if you have a kitten however.

It will mean that your unwell cat will not be able to eat “normal” food.  Just one mouthful in the case of allergic skin disease or hyperthyroidism can be enough to make the diet ineffective so this strategy can really help prevent this being a concern.

If you don’t have a separate room to food cats in, or don’t want to put a cat door in your house, you could instead use the microchip cat door attached to a large pet crate.  The end result will be the same. Only those cats programmed to go through the cat door will be able to access the inside of the crate and eat the food you put there.

I have had a Sureflap microchip cat flap for about 7 years and have written a review here

Create a small entrance

Moving onto more low-tech (and cheaper!) solutions, my third way to feed multiple cats works when your cats are different sizes.  The main reason to use these strategies would be when you have an adult cat and kitten, or when one of your cat is morbidly obese and the other is a healthy body condition (and you can learn all about how to body condition score your cat here).

There are 2 techniques in these situations.  Either use a door stop to keep a door open to such an extent that your small cat can get through but is too narrow for your big cat.  Or feed your small cat in a box that is accessed by a small hole cut in the side that is again too small for your fat cat to get through.

These might sound a bit far fetched but you might be surprised how well they can work in feeding multiple cats different diets.

Feed high or out of reach

Along the same lines of making one lot of food inaccessible to certain individuals, if you have an old cat you might notice that they are not able to get to places your younger cats can get to.  This means you could feed your younger cats on normal food up high (or wherever the inaccessible place is, and keep your older cats prescription food in an easily accessible position.

Of course your cats lack of mobility shouldn’t otherwise go ignored.  Arthritis is a very common disease of older cats and chronic pain is not something they should have to put up with.  There are many home arthritis management strategies you can implement and other very effective arthritis treatments you can give to make sure your cat’s quality of life is not compromised.  Talking to your vet and getting your cat examined is definitely something you should do if you find your cats mobility is not what it once was.

Supervise feeding time

there is nothing like supervising feeding time when it comes to feeding multiple cats

And finally, there is nothing like supervising feeding time when it comes to feeding multiple cats.  Supervised feeding times makes sure that each cat only eats from their own bowl and doesn’t steal food from their slower eating housemate.  Supervised feeding times also means you can keep an eye on each cats appetite. After all, if you just put food down in a few bowls and walk away, how do you know if one cat is becoming sick and is stopping eating?

Set meal times are always better than ad-lib feeding.  To make things easier for you should either place food bowls as far apart as possible or feed in different rooms.  You can even feed each cat in their own travel crate (something like this would be plenty big enough). If they are shut in with their food then only they will be able to eat it.  You will be certain no cat is eating more than they should or getting a diet that they shouldn’t be eating. It will also help your cat become very comfortable with spending time in their crate, making trips to the vet or cattery a lot less stressful (for you and them!).

While feeding all of your cats in a multi-cat household might be stressful for you, it is also stressful for you cats!  Whenever you have more than one cat there will inevitably be some degree of stress and friction between your cats. You can learn all about keeping your cats relaxed in more ways that just managing feeding in my article all about how to reduce stress in cats.

If you’ve come up with any unique or ingenious strategies to feed your cats different diets then I’d love to hear them in the comments below and if you try any of these techniques let me know how you get on!

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