How do you get them to eat together?

Sean35

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Story: Stalker and Sidekick have been getting fed for a little over a year now. Stalker was already TNRed (clueless on gender), Sidekick is a 7 year old male who I caught and had neutered in January. Sidekick originally got his name because he was only present when Stalker was waiting for food, and never showed up on his own. When I'd feed them, Sidekick would always eat first, with Stalker eating afterwards. Sidekick disappeared for a few months, and once he returned, he was always solo. Now, over the past month or so, Sidekick will sometimes show up shortly after Stalker, so both would be waiting for me. I put out two bowls for them, but I can't figure out how to get them to eat together.

Both are afraid of me, and Stalker is generally afraid of Sidekick, but Sidekick is more afraid of me than Stalker is of Sidekick, presumably because trapping him involved using a drop trap. What this means is that if I put out two bowls at a distance, and I'm not watching them, Sidekick is the dominant cat. But if the bowls are on the front steps, Stalker becomes the dominant cat. Either way, it usually goes one of two ways: The dominant cat eats while the other watches, or Sidekick chases Stalker away, with neither of them returning. Other than that, they generally tolerate each other.

Is it really that hard for them to eat six feet apart? I've tried leaving treats to get them to associate eating together as a good thing, but one cat always ends up eating all the treats, so that ends up being pointless. A neighbor a couple streets over feeds 3-4 feral cats and I always see those cats (there is no crossing of territories by any cat) eating together or huddled together when it is cold.
 

maggie101

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I have the same problem. Peaches finishes first then goes to Maggie's bowl. Maggie walks away and let's Peaches eat it. If I give Maggie a treat Peaches snatches it from me or her and runs off. In order for Maggie to eat,I lock Peaches in my bedroom. Also helps that Maggie has a food Peaches doesn't like!
 

maggie101

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another thing that has helped is using a timer late at night so peaches isn't as hungry. She has to sleep in a different room ,closed,for that to work
 

BellaGooch

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I have a similar problem with my cats. The semi-feral, Pants, is anything but the dominant cat. If any of the other cats go near him or his food, he’ll leave and possibly not come back. I end up feeding the girls in one place and Pants in a completely different place.
 

maggie101

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This morning I put peaches in my bedroom and shut the door. Maggie had no trouble eating except that I always have to add freeze dried chicken!
 

fionasmom

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I have a similar situation with my ferals, all of whom eat in my back yard and have been here for a long time. Can you space food further than 6 feet? That has seemed to be the only "solution" seemingly. The pecking order of who eats and when and how can get tricky with ferals.
 
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