How do we prevent food stealing in a multi-cat household?
Updated: Feb 21
Many many times I’ve been asked how do I keep my young healthy cat from stealing food from my old skinny cat. Know that you are not alone! This comes up all the time. It happened at my house too.
Sometimes putting the skinnier, more agile cat’s food on a countertop helps. However, my Freya who was 24 pounds was surprisingly agile when it came to finding food.
Years ago, my old guy Joey needed a special diet, and the young-lings were stealing his food and he would just let them. He was too old and arthritic to get onto a countertop and I wasn’t going to spend hours of my day playing food goalie so he could eat.
I discovered a very cool invention, a microchip feeder. This feeder has a lid that sits over the bowl of food and will only open for the one cat it is programmed for. So, when Joey went to eat from it, it opened just fine for him, and he could eat all he wanted. When he walked away the lid closed. When anyone else went to try to eat from it the lid would not open for them. They were all very confounded by this as they knew Joey could eat from it but couldn’t figure out why it would not open for them.
Then of course, once I figured out that it worked well, I had to buy one for his brother who was also older and wanted to graze more throughout the day. These days I have one for each cat. I know it sounds a little crazy. But I can know exactly who is eating and what, my two bigger boys haven’t gotten any larger and my skinny kids are not getting skinnier.
Now I always warn people to never underestimate a motivated cat. Nothing is going to be 100% effective. When I bought the first feeder, I found Joey eating from it one day but another cat had stuck his arm in next to Joey and was flinging himself bits of food to eat. But this is the best solution I’ve ever found. I will say you definitely have to buy the additional rear cover. Without this cover, it is just too easy for another cat to sneak in the back and steal food.
Another benefit of having one for each cat is I have 2 very scared boys who will absolutely not come out of hiding when a stranger is here. I wanted to take a vacation and realized that my cat sitter would have no way of ensuring that there was any food leftover once those scaredy boys decided it was safe to eat. With their own feeder, food is ready and waiting for them when they’re ready to eat and the cat sitter will know who ate and who didn’t. The last time I went out of town she knew that Liam did not come downstairs to eat and was able to move his feeder up to the bedrooms where he likes to hide and then he ate fine. Without having a feeder just for him he might not have eaten the whole week and no one would have known.
SureFeed has a great video on you tube showing how the feeder works.