Eat In Peace

Eat In PeaceWhen Sampson first came to live with us we kept him in a separate room, as is recommended, to get him settled and then gradually introduced him to the other two cats.

We continued feeding them all separately for some time though. Sampson is a notorious food hog, so it seemed the best choice. Overtime we discovered that it was fine to let Sampson and Elvis eat together. They both eat the same food (dry food, as opposed to the wet Lola gets), and Elvis was reasonably good at batting Sampson away should he get too close when Elvis was trying to eat.

Recently though, Sampson has been getting bolder about trying to take Elvis’s food. The thing is, Sampson practically inhales his food, whereas Elvis will take his time, chewing over each morsel. And Sampson, done with his own food, will often come up behind Elvis, maybe even darting a paw out to steal pieces in the moments when Elvis is chewing. Sometimes he’ll go so far as pushing his head in the bowl when Elvis looks up.

Elvis does defend his food, sometimes. But when there are only a few pieces left and Sampson has been pestering for a while, he will inevitably give up and leave the food to the younger boy. And of course Sampson promptly gobbles up the whole lot.

We’ve been trying to come up with a solution to the problem. Sure, we could go back to feeding them separately, but that’s not ideal. It’s awkward enough having to herd Lola into a separate room to feed her, without having to separate all three of them. Plus in the summer the cats are going to a cattery for a week, and Elvis and Sampson will be together so they need to understand food boundaries!

Eat In Peace 2Our answer? Feed Elvis on a different level. Rather than giving both cats their food on the floor, we now get Elvis up onto one of the shorter cat trees to eat his food, whilst Sampson still eats on the floor. It works perfectly!

We started about a week ago. Initially Elvis was a bit confused by the whole thing. The first few times we had to pick him up and put him on the cat tree. Then we progressed to holding the bowl of food in front of him and ‘leading’ his up the tree. Now we can just hold the bowl of food near the tree, call his name, and he’ll hop up all by himself!

Of course it’s early days still, and it’s impossible to tell whether this solution will continue to work. But the signs are good. And I’ll admit, I was surprised how quickly ole Elvis learned this new trick!


Lady Joyful

Do you have to get creative with your feeding locations?

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35 thoughts on “Eat In Peace

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Thanks for the comment and the article! I wish we could free feed our cats, but unfortunately between special dietary requirements and Sampson’s insistence on wolfing down anything in sight it’s not possible.

  1. elizabetcetera says:

    Try a stainless steel bowl with a fixed ball or hump in the center of the bowl. This type of bowl will slow yor cat’s gorging. has a stainless bowl for about $20.

    It is called the Durapet Large feed bowl. You can also try placing a golf ball in the bowl instead if you don’t want to buy a new bowl.

    Good luck! Let us know how Mr. Speed Eater does! 🙂

    • Lady Joyful says:

      That’s a good suggestion! I remember we did a similar thing for my brother’s chocolate labrador when she was a puppy to train her to eat slower, as chocolate labs are notoriously greedy. (We used a very large stone, much too big to accidentally swallow, and she ate around it.) I’ll have to see if I can find something to put in Sampson’s bowl to slow him down 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Okay so I just fed the boys their lunch and tried putting a tennis ball (because that’s what I found) in Sampson’s bowl. It slowed him down for about 5 seconds, but then he managed to knock the ball out of the bowl! I will keep trying though, and see if I can find something more suitable size/weight wise to limit the bowl space.

      • elizabetcetera says:


        I have to start practicing what I preach because my big fat Teddy Bear eats like it’s his last meal and then inspects my other cat’s bowl when he’s done — my slow eater guy.

        We have a small granite stone I’m going to start putting in his bowl — he eats wet food so that tennis ball idea of yours for sure wouldn’t work with HIS gooey food!

        These cats I tell ya … Such special needs! But worth it totally. <3

        • Lady Joyful says:

          Yes I think we may have to look for a suitable stone. Have to make sure it’s big enough that he won’t try to swallow it too though!
          A tennis ball in wet food could certainly be an interesting experience… 😛
          Definitely worth it!

  2. soupsloth says:

    We have the same problem with our two. Rosie is a bit of a grazer while Jim’s food simply disappears once it’s placed on the floor. We’ve been keeping Rosie’s food in the washing room. When she wants something to eat, she meows very loudly and leads us to the door. Often, she will stand on her back legs for a stroke then we open the door and she goes in for her breakfast. She also likes to eat up high, only eating food placed on top of the washing machine! Maybe we should place a washing machine in the same room as Jim’s food and avoid having to open and close the door!

  3. Remy says:

    That’s super creative! Cats are good at sniffing out food though (my husband and I actually think we have pet vulture that just looks like a cat), so I’d be interested to see how long this lasts.

    I saw a thing on the internet the other day about a cat bowl that used your cats’ chips to determine which cat was which, and would only allow a certain cat into a certain bowl. –

    Super neat. Might be worth looking in to?

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Yes Sampson is very good at sniffing out food. I think the biggest reason the solution works (at least for now!) is not so much that Sampson doesn’t realise the food is there so much as he’s unable to get to it whilst Elvis is eating. The platform of the cat tree is only big enough for Elvis and the bowl, so there’s no space for Sampson to get there to pester and put Elvis off eating.
      I have seen similar types of food bowls before. They’re a really good idea! Tend to be rather expensive though. Definitely something to keep in mind 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  4. Sheila Moss says:

    My two have different dietary requirements, so I feed them separately in two higher places. One gets wet food and one dry. Frisky would love to eat both foods but has food allergies. Misty gets wet food because she is underweight. When I boarded my two girls, I explained the situation and the kennel fed them separately for me.

    • Lady Joyful says:

      The kennel we’re sending ours to are certainly being accommodating. Lola already has to be separate from the boys for food because she has to have a particular wet food (any other food makes her sick), and Sampson would steal her food given the chance. If necessary I’m sure the boys would be fed separately, but if we can manage to get back to them happily eating together that would be preferable.

  5. Claudia says:

    We have 2 cats that do the same thing. Mysty is a tubbie becasue Tom likes to nibble rather than pig out. We’ve learned to feed a little at a time then add to Tom’s side first when he bugs us to death. Not a perfect solution, either. Good advice!

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Yeah we make sure to give a little at a time. I know some people prefer to feed maybe twice a day, but we found little meals works best for us. Glad you found the post helpful! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  6. Tina's Faerie Files says:

    My grandkitties are each tuned in to a different food so we have been lucky in that regard. They don’t want to eat each others stuff. However, Asti does tend to try to assert his dominion now and then by refusing to let Sheba eat in peace. We have a big house so we just put the food in separate rooms for them and it seems to work that way. Soooo can you take the cat tree to the kennel?

    • Lady Joyful says:

      No I don’t expect to take the cat tree to the kennel! The idea is more to teach the boys (especially Sampson) that it’s fine to eat in the same room as each other. I’ll probably try gradually moving them closer together again over time. Thanks for commenting.

        • Lady Joyful says:

          Yes I certainly imagine it would. We probably would take some little things for them (Lola’s pod that she likes to sleep in, for example) but the tree is a bit big to take. Especially as we don’t have our own vehicle so they will be collecting the cats from us 🙂

  7. trishafaye says:

    I loved this post. Good idea with the cat tree! Curious now about the balls and stones. I have two boys that are little hogs. One (named Piglet…gee, how’d he get that name?) is a year old now. With him it works to feed the siblings a few feet away from each other on the kitchen floor.
    The other is one of hree of the smallest ones, new rescues. I put them back in the cage to eat (keeps the older cats and dogs out of their food). Marbles does the same thing – chows his food down, then goes after Harley’s food, because Harley is the slower eater that takes his time through a meal.
    I’m going to try the large stone technique.

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Glad you liked the post! And I’d love to hear how the large stone technique works for you. Do make sure it’s big enough to not be accidentally swallowed (though I’m sure you know that!) best to verge on the side of too big than too little, especially if you have any that really wolf their food down 🙂

  8. pilch92 says:

    I wish I had a suggestion, but my Sammy does the same thing and the only way we stop him is too police them until everyone is done with their meal.

    • Lady Joyful says:

      It can be frustrating trying to police them! We’ve done that with them before, when we were trying to feed them all in the same place. Problem is Sampson gets so desperate to get at Lola’s (wet) food, and she’s too easily distracted from eating! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  9. Vive les chats! says:

    Such a simple idea! Clever Lady Joyful! (Love your name)
    I must say that Phoebe, Leo, Errol Flynn and Merlin have very good table manners. They all eat very peacefully together, which I find must interesting as they do not always get along and you would think that food would be a # 1 source of conflict. As we, cat lovers know, our little critters never do the expected…Having been rescued at different times, the gang here ranges from 13 to 3 years old and my old girl Phoebe does not care at at all for Errol Flynn who is big and handsome and very sweet. He just goes by and she becomes so outraged, she has chocking fits. I do not understand any of it. Anyone with a similar situation??

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Thanks 😀 Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you… My girl cat back in England (Belle) would get enraged by the boys at times. It seemed to be a “I’m in charge, don’t forget it!” response. Maybe someone else will have a more useful answer for you.

  10. Three Chatty Cats says:

    We have to feed one cat in a separate room because she’s on a special diet and will try and eat the other cats’ food. She hates being “locked up” in a separate room, even though I’m with her the entire time. What we do for our cats! 🙂

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Yes we feed Lola out of the room for the same reasons! (Although it’s equally stopping Sampson from eating her food as keeping her from eating the boys’) Thanks for commenting!

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