3. No Free-Feeding
When all the cats were eating the same food, especially if it involved dry food, you may have simply left out an endless supply in one bowl for cats to munch on as they pleased throughout the day. Even if you weren’t about to embark on specialized diets for one or more of the cats, free-feeding is not the best way to go. When there’s a bottomless bowl of food you have no way of monitoring how much each cat is eating. It may seem convenient at first but it can also lead to obesity or it can create some resource-guarding between cats if there’s only one food source. One cat may have developed the habit of sneaking into the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning when no one else is around because he’s afraid of being intimidated or attacked by another cat.
As you make the transition from free-feeding to scheduled meals, start by doing more frequent meals (divide up the portions so you’re not overfeeding) and making a big announcement when it’s mealtime so the kitties can get used to the new routine. Make it a gradual and easy transition so you don’t end up with one or more cats sitting in the kitchen wondering what happened to their food.
4. Create Individual Feeding Stations for Your Cats
Depending on how many cats you have or how determined some of them may be about gaining access to another kitty’s food, the stations could be located all in the same room or you may have to set certain ones up in different rooms. Mealtime shouldn’t be a time of stress or fear so if it’s too difficult to keep one cat away from another, the easiest thing to do is create feeding stations in totally separate areas.
If you plan on feeding the cats in one room, don’t place the bowls right next to each other. Social dining is more of a human thing and most cats will feel a little more comfortable when there’s space between food bowls. When you have distance between the bowls it also gives you more time to step in and gently guide a wayward cat back to his own bowl. If the bowls are right next to each other then one cat can stick his nose in a companion cat’s bowl before you even realize it.