Tips on how to stop resident cat and new kitten eating each other's food (first time two-cat owner)

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
This is the first time I've ever had a second cat. Resident cat is River, 7 next month, new kitten is Lillie, almost ten weeks.

So I'm facing the issue of food segregation. It doesn't help that River is very food orientated and has been eating Lillie's food whenever he can. Lillie seems comparatively not very food orientated: The box advises 70g/day split into two meals but she hardly finishes her first 35g in a day. Sometimes I've picked her up and placed her next to her food and she's eaten (and she does eat otherwise) but she isn't finishing her meals. She doesn't seem to be suffering from it - she isn't scarfing her food down when she does eat and I don't think River is putting her off because she's like this even when he's locked out (and she doesn't mind him when he's around, judging by the fact she has been lying down and chilling near him, she only gets annoyed when he pounces on him). She does seem to inclined to nibble at River's food when she walks passed but only sometimes, and until today she's only been out of the one room she was in whilst supervised, so I've stopped her pretty much before she starts, so I don't know what her drive is but I imagine no more than her drive for her own food.

In terms of solutions - I've put a box with a mousehole cut out on top of her food, with some weighty objects on top that will hopefully deny River access - I don't know if Lillie will figure it out though, with her low food drive, hopefully she will (I had another box yesterday but it was too low for her to go inside, but she did try and monch through it, but a few times with prompting). I don't know how to isolate River's food - a website suggested using the older cat's ability to jump heights? I guess there's one place River can get to I know Lillie can't. (It's currently the one table I'm keeping all the stuff I haven't managed to find a place to keep permanently despite moving back into my flat 12 months ago oops!)

As they grow older how much of an issue is it to keep food separate? When I first got River, I free fed him until a checkup he had within the next 9 months I had him, when the vet advised I feed him only 70g to push his weight down a kg. I now only feed him 60-70g a day, which he never finishes, and his weight is around 4kg. It's been 5 years since I adopted him so he's now spent a majority of his life with limited food, so maybe I don't need to watch their food intake as much now as long as their weight stays right and just keep bowls with food in and trust they both get the 70g they need (this is when they're both adults, I wanna make sure Lillie is getting enough as she is a kitten, although like I said she's not even finishing her 35g, even tho I read kittens are usually more food driven).

I know this isn't a novel problem by any means, so looking forward to some insight from other people with more experience of bringing a kitten into a single cat household, and how they changed things as the kitten got older.
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
14,577
Purraise
19,451
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Hi. As long as Lillie gets enough to eat and River doesn't overeat, you could change to an 'all stages' food that both could eat. Or, wait until Lillie is older to do that if you would prefer to keep her on kitten food for now.

In the meantime, if River gets too inquisitive about what is in Lillie's eating box or what she is doing in there, you could always set his food dish outside while she is in it and see if that will distract him - as he would get to eat some each time she does!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
Hi. As long as Lillie gets enough to eat and River doesn't overeat, you could change to an 'all stages' food that both could eat. Or, wait until Lillie is older to do that if you would prefer to keep her on kitten food for now.

In the meantime, if River gets too inquisitive about what is in Lillie's eating box or what she is doing in there, you could always set his food dish outside while she is in it and see if that will distract him - as he would get to eat some each time she does!
Ah his food dish is already outside. He will happily eat both his and hers. I should've mentioned - River is a grazer (and Lillie also appears to be) so food times aren't a thing - they will eat throughout the day, which I know is normal, but means I can't isolate them for feeding.

So far anti-River measures appear to be working though!!! It's just waiting to see if Lillie actually eats enough. I'll give it some time tho she's been here less than a week so she's been busy exploring and figuring River out.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
Well River's figured out he can put his arm in and pull part of the bowl (it's one of those two-bowls-attached types) out to eat the food ... 😂
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
Micro chip feeders
Is the SureFeed one the only one that is simply a cover on a cat bowl that opens when it detects a microchip?

I've been googling for about 15 mins, all other automatic feeders are either just on timers or are the ones that release food into the open when a cat comes near. The SureFeed one seems the only one that would actually be what I need (to prevent them eating each other's food but otherwise allow me to both feed them and for them to eat in their own time), but it's in excess of £80 each.

Somehow, Lillie has now developed to the point she can now jump onto the table I keep River's food on, so it seems we're contesting with the potential of her eating his food earlier than I thought!!!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
So just revisiting this a month and a bit later:

unfortunately life got in the way and I was unable to buy the 40% off microchip feeder - but maybe for the best as I am not in the position of having enough funds to really afford that.

Lillie can now jump high enough that there’s no where in my flat I can put River’s food to use height to stop her from getting at. Meanwhile I’ve had to add even more components to Lillie’s food fortress to stop River getting in - I seem to have succeeded for now, with a box plus a smaller box as a patio to prevent him pulling it through, plus a bin on one side, my laundry bin on the other, the sofa at the back and a coffee table at the front, all to stop him moving the entire box (despite the items on top to weigh it down) and pulling the food from under it.

To stop Lillie eating River’s food I’ve had to only let him eat when I am home and able to supervise, to stop Lillie getting at it. This is a change from when I would simply leave out his daily amount for him to graze from as he chooses (both cats seem to be grazers). And because I tend to be out long hours, plus sleep time, this leaves a very short window in which he can eat, within which he won’t finish his food and as a result isn’t eating his daily amount.

There has been a benefit to Lillie - her poop, while not concerning, has been having a less nuggety and more smushy consistency, which made scooping it out more work (I’d also need to wipe down the tray liner as it would leave marks). Whereas now her, unable to eat River’s food, her poop looks more like what I am used to with River, just kitten sized. However for River, he seems to have become a bit more moodier (not massively, even to the point maybe I am projecting), and it can’t be fair on him.

I’m hoping someone has some cheap DIY solutions here to prevent a kitten accessing another cat’s food - surely this is not a unique situation I am in, so hopefully someone else who has gone through the exact same situation is able to impart some experience for me!

many thanks
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
14,577
Purraise
19,451
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Have you looked into an all-stages food that might work for both of them? You could still keep Lillie's separate if you feel you need to, but if the new food would agree with Lillie, you wouldn't need to keep River from having food all day to graze on. River would get to eat when he wants, and Lillie eating some of River's food isn't likely going to hurt her since she is so young yet and needs lots of calories. It would probably help with River's disposition too!!

Hopefully, some members who have gone through similar situations will come up with some solutions based on their experiences.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
Have you looked into an all-stages food that might work for both of them? You could still keep Lillie's separate if you feel you need to, but if the new food would agree with Lillie, you wouldn't need to keep River from having food all day to graze on. River would get to eat when he wants, and Lillie eating some of River's food isn't likely going to hurt her since she is so young yet and needs lots of calories. It would probably help with River's disposition too!!

Hopefully, some members who have gone through similar situations will come up with some solutions based on their experiences.
That's some good advice, I'll look into it - I've been fairly consistent with the brand I feed them, mainly coz when I first got River I read changing a cat's diet can upset them unless its done gradually - and GoCat as far as I can tell doesn't do all stage food. That being said perhaps I am being over cautious.

The other concern is when I first got River, he was completely free fed (that's how he was fed by his previous owner) - but that year I was advised by his vet to only feed him 70g a day (as per the food packaging advice) as his weight was a little bit higher than they felt ti should be. As a result he has been for the last five years a consistently appropiate weight. I feel if I left food out that both he and Lillie had access to, the only way to make sure he got at least 70g would be to go back to free feeding (in fact, as I know Lillie will likely ignore her protected food in favour of the same one River eats, it would be free feeding both), and I worry this will result in weight issues, or else issues where one is eating too much and the other not enough, and I wouldn't be able to tell.

But I will look into the all stage suggestion in case this is just inevitable.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18

imaginewizard

TCS Member
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
168
Purraise
58
Location
Newcastle, UK
Just to conclude on this! The great news is that my best friend, clearly taking pity on my stress, bought my cats two of the Surefeed devices for Christmas! So I am spared of having to come up with a more DIY solution that cannot be outsmarted by my cats!

Thanks everyone for their advice provided in the meantime!
 
Top