Is there food envy in cats?

Food envy often occurs with cats in a multi-cat household, so that one cat steals the food from the other. This usually only happens when one of the cats has previously had bad experiences in the shelter or when they were young.

What are the causes of food envy in cats?

The causes for food envy among cats can have different reasons. A cause could be with cats that these were accommodated in the shelter before or had difficult life situations with old owners in the youth time. Because there it was often taught, if the food is ready, everyone fights first only for itself, in order not to starve. Often not only the food from the own bowl is devoured, but also the food bowl from next door.

Also a bored cat can quickly steal the food of the other cat and ensures an empty bowl for the other cat.

It also often happens that cats mob each other while eating and therefore steal the food from the bowl of the other cat. This often happens when the stronger cat wants to show the limits to the inferior cat.
Cats often mob each other while eating and the more dominant cat often steals the food from the inferior cat.

If the two food bowls of your two cats only have different colors, it may also have come to a mix-up, why the cat takes the food from the wrong bowl. Because cats can recognize and interpret shapes much better than colors.

If you want to know which cats are particularly suitable as outdoor cats, you can read this in our latest article Which cat breeds are suitable for outdoor? right now.

How can you prevent food envy in cats?

Food envy can be prevented by various measures and try to prevent. If the food bowls are mixed up, it can be a good solution to use different shapes of food bowls. Make sure they are easy to clean and of good quality.

Especially in case of bullying during eating, it might be practical to put the feeding bowls in different rooms, so that each cat has its own room to eat in and food envy doesn’t happen in the first place.

Especially in the beginning, you as the owner should be present when the cat eats and, if necessary, take care of order.

If you are wondering whether outdoor cats also need special food, you can find this out in our current article How to feed outdoor cats?

When do cats in multi-cat household need different food?

Different food for cats in multi-cat household usually occurs only when one of the cats has a disease. In case of diseases like kidney problems, diabetes, tapeworm or liver insufficiency the cat needs a special food to get well again. To prevent the other cat from getting the special food of the sick cat, it is useful to put the food bowls in different rooms. Because often certain nutrients are missing in the special food or special additives are added, which would harm a healthy cat.

But also overweight in one of the cats can lead to a different food in the multi-cat household. Special diet food should be given only for the intended cat and the overweight cat should also not get near the other food bowl. In this case, a spatial separation during feeding is also a good idea.

If your cats are used to serving themselves from a full bowl or from an automatic feeder, you will have to change this as soon as one of your cats needs a special food.

Note that a change in feeding should be done very slowly and with much caution. Cats are very sensitive animals and will become unnecessarily stressed if you simply change the feeding abruptly.

Should all cats be fed together or should they be fed separately?

In a multi-cat household, each cat should have its own food bowl. In the wild, cats consume their prey only alone and when they feel safe. That is why it is advisable to deposit a separate feeding place for each cat in the household.

Cats may feel pressured or become stressed if other cats are around when they are eating. A typical behavior in cats when they are uncomfortable is ear play, looking around, or a crouched position in front of the food bowl.

Suitable feeding places for your cats include the kitchen counter or simply the favorite spot of the particular cat. The food bowl should not be near a watering hole or the litter box. A simple spatial separation, where each cat has its own room to eat without visual contact with other conspecifics, would be optimal.

Eating cats can be quietly placed in the favorite place of pets.

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Summary – Is there food envy in cats?

Food envy is often a problem in multi-cat households. One cat, usually the more dominant one, steals the food from the other and eats it. This phenomenon often has various causes, which could also have to do with a bad experience in the cat’s childhood. Likewise, a cause for food envy in cats could be if the cat comes from an animal shelter and has learned there to gobble up everything immediately what is put in front of you.

Also boredom or the purposeful bullying with cats can be a reason for a stolen food. A simple confusion of the food bowls occurs as a cause with cats just as often, since these cannot distinguish the colors of the bowls.

You can prevent food envy in your cats by various measures. In case of a simple confusion of the bowls, you can simply change them to different shapes. You can also prevent your cat’s food envy by placing the bowls in different places in the apartment or in separate rooms. With all measures you should be present particularly at the beginning with the feeding, in order to be able to intervene at any time.

If one of your cats has diseases such as diabetes, liver failure or kidney problems, the sick cat often gets a special food assigned. Here you have to handle the food differently and your cats can no longer eat from the same food bowl. Because often certain nutrients are missing in the special food or special additives are added, which would harm a healthy cat.

Especially if your cat is overweight, you have to keep a strict control on the feeding so that nothing is stolen from the other bowl.

In a multi-cat household it is important that each cat gets its own bowl and feeding place. In the wild, cats consume their prey only alone and when they feel safe. Cats can quickly become stressed if another cat is in the vicinity when feeding.

Suitable feeding places are, for example, the kitchen counter or your cat’s favorite place. Spatial separation when feeding the cat, where neither can see the other, would be optimal.