3 Tips for Helping an Overweight Cat in a Multi-Cat Home Lose Weight
Helping your overweight kitty lose weight can be challenging, even when you have only one cat. What if you have several cats but only one needs to lose weight? How do you feed multiple cats different foods or amounts, especially if they have different eating styles? We have some suggestions.
1. Serve meals at least twice daily
Free-choice feeding can create problems in multi-cat homes. Monitoring each cat’s appetite and food intake is practically impossible in these situations. Dominant or assertive cats may block access to the food bowl, or these feline “bullies” may push shyer cats away from the food before the shyer cats are done. Or one cat may be a grazer, eating small amounts several times throughout the day, while another cat inhales its fill like a fur-covered vacuum. That’s why, for most multi-cat homes, meal feedings using a separate feeding station for each cat is the most desirable approach.
2. Low-tech options for feeding cats separately
One of the simplest and easiest ways to address feeding multiple cats is to physically separate them: put them in different rooms with the door closed at mealtimes. Each cat is given a certain amount of time to eat, usually 20 to 30 minutes, after which any uneaten food is removed. Your overweight kitty can eat an appropriate, measured amount of a weight management diet without feeling rushed. Fresh, clean water should be readily available in several places at all times.
Another option is to feed your normal-weight cat on a high counter or shelf, someplace high to which your overweight cat can’t jump. Or use a baby gate to feed cats in separate rooms if your overweight cat can’t jump over or crawl under the gate. You could even create a feeding station for your slim-and-trim kitty by cutting a small opening in a plastic storage bin. The opening would be small enough for your trim kitty to enter, but not your overweight cat. All of these approaches allow a cat who grazes to eat when they are hungry without the overweight kitty eating any leftovers that weren’t immediately consumed after being served.
3. Go high-tech to manage multiple menus
“Smart feeders” that only allow access to a specific cat are available, although they can be a little pricey. However, if you need to keep one of your cats away from a certain food, they are worth the investment. These feeders can be programmed to open for your cat’s microchip or a tag that’s added to the collar.
You can also make a smart feeding station from a plastic storage box and a cat flap operated either by your cat’s microchip or by a collar with a magnet. Again, only the cat that is supposed to eat the food inside the feeding station will be able to access it.
No matter how you decide to feed your many cats, be sure to talk with your veterinarian about the amount of calories each kitty should eat each day. You may also want to ask your veterinarian if there is one food that all cats could eat, although the amounts will vary. Many weight management diets, including Diamond CARE Weight Management for Adult Cats, can be fed long-term to help your cats maintain a healthy weight.
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