Feline Feeding Pitfalls

by Dr. Carla Edwards

Though we want our cats to eat all at once, we may be doing more harm than good. By thinking about their natural behavioral instincts, we can help our cats from becoming too thin or too heavy and eliminate stress.

Mimicking their ancestral need to hunt for food, cats “graze” by eating small amounts at a time. If we suspect they are walking away from the food because they don’t like it or are fussy, we tend to change foods or add treats that may indeed get them to eat more at a time until they go back to eating less and we change foods again. This not only causes stress, but also causes them to become overweight.

For those with multiple cats, feeding them all at one time in one area can lead to problems and stress.  Cats prefer to eat alone and can get anxiety when they are forced to eat in a group. The tension can create a negative association with eating, and they eat less. The same tension may cause other cats to overeat, thinking that the other cats might get their food if they don’t eat it. This can also cause regurgitation. Sure, it’s more difficult to feed cats separately but it may be worth the effort to eliminate stress, overeating, regurgitation, or weight loss.

If you have a fussy eater or an overeater, there are many things you can try to prevent both, if you consider their natural behaviors.


  • Measure the appropriate amount of food per day for each cat.
  • Feed small amounts of food more frequently with an option to use a timed feeder and a treat ball to encourage exercise.
  • Vary stations and include a high location, a secluded spot, and one up or downstairs.