How To Stop My Older Cat Eating The Kitten’s Food?
If your older cat keeps eating your younger cat’s food you may be wondering what you can do to stop this from happening (Click here to see my best solution, on Amazon #Ad).
Why does my older cat eat the kitten’s food?
Older cats will eat your kitten’s food simply because it smells nice, looks appealing, and is in their vicinity. It is an easy opportunity that some cats just can’t resist. And, your kitten is not likely to be able to do much to stop it.
What you will need to keep your kitten’s food safe
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So, now you know why this is happening. But, what can you do to stop it? Is it OK for an adult cat to eat kitten food? Is kitten and adult cat food the same? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more.
How do I stop my older cat from eating the kitten’s food?
There are several ways that you can stop your older cat from eating (click here if it goes nuts after) your kitten’s food. Some are easier to implement than others. Here are a few options:
Make a feeding station
A feeding station is an effective way to keep your older cat away. Effectively it is a purpose-made box that has a cat flap attached. This cat flap needs to be designed to only let in your kitten (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad) to keep out your older cat.
The only downfall is you will need to get a bit creative with this because it is not an off-the-shelf solution, it needs to be pieced together.
Make a feeding schedule
A feeding schedule is a simple solution to keep your cat’s feeding separate. The idea is to stager their feeding so they eat at separate times and you keep them in separate locations at the time of feeding.
Also, if you feed the older cat first it reduces the chances of it muscling in on your kitten’s feeding time because it is already fulfilled.
Create a small feeding area design for your kitten
This technique is similar to the feeding station. You will basically repurpose a box, for example, a box used to store folders or old stuff in your loft. The idea is to choose one that is too small for your older cat. At the same time comfortable enough for your kitten.
It is a fine balance to get it right but it can work if you search hard enough and are keen to pursue it.
Automatic feeders (are the gravity ones any good? click here) are one of the easiest ways to control your kitten’s food they work by selectively providing access to the food based on the cat’s microchip. for example, this one:
It works using a microchip and stops cats from stealing food and has the ability to hold wet or dry food. As well as this it seals the food in to keep it fresh and wet cad food moist.
Feed your cat in a separate room using a cat door
To make sure there is no chance that your older cat can steal your cat’s food you can make them eat in separate rooms. Depending on where you live this can be easy, or a challenge. For example, if you live in a small flat, or studio flat you probably won’t be able to do it.
However, if you have enough rooms this is a good idea. To make it more effective you can use a cat flap that will only let your kitten in (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad). This will give your kitten easy access, but keep out your greedy older cat.
Make a small distance between feeding bowls
Believe it or not, simply separating the feeding bowls in the same room may be enough to stop your older cat from stealing the food. It may sound illogical, but it has been known to work.
And, the beauty of this is it’s quite a free solution you can try first to see if it works. Then, if it fails, there are other solutions here that you can try.
What happens if my kitten eats my older cat’s food?
If your kitten (Is it OK in a small first-floor apartment) eats your older cat’s food it is not that bad in the short term. But, it is not an ideal long-term food source. This is because the kitten’s food is specially formulated for them. Their needs are different while they are young and growing.
As well as keeping your older cat off your kitten’s food it can work both ways. Meaning, your kitten could easily try and nibble at the adult cat’s food. But, at least now you know why it’s not ideal.
How can you keep your kitten from eating the adult cat’s food?
In the last section, I explained the risks of your kitten stealing your adult cat’s food. But, in this section I will give you some suggestions to get around this:
Find a high-level location
A straightforward method is to place your adult cat’s food high up away from your kitten. Because kittens are smaller they cannot scale the same heights as the adult.
Therefore, you can use this to your advantage and make sure it is out of your kitten’s range.
Earlier I talked about automatic feeders to keep your adult cat away from your kitten’s food, remember? Well, these automatic feeders can also help in the reverse (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad).
This can keep your kitten away from your adult cat’s food.
A feeding schedule is a great way to get around this. One of the reasons why your cat may be stealing your kitten’s meal is because it may not be getting fed regularly or predictably.
Predictability is a big thing for cats because if they fear the next meal is not coming they will look at other options for survival.
I know survival is a strong word for a privileged domestic cat, but either way, they will seek other food, which may include your kitten bowl.
Separate them when feeding
Sometimes separating is the only option. It may seem extreme, or unsociable. But, if all else fails this may be the only plausible option that you may have.
However, if you do this, you need to have them completely separate. Ideally separate rooms so they can’t see each other’s bowls. If not, the fastest eater will be tempted to visit the other half-eaten bowl.
Remove uneaten food
If you go to the trouble of separating the food bowls you need also remove the uneaten food when they are done. It could be tempting to place the bowls down and move on with your day.
The problem with this is that one of the cats may go and find the other bowl and clean it. This can start a habit of stealing food and put you back to a few steps.
Also, regardless if there is food left behind, or it’s clean and empty, still clear the bowl away after mealtime. Why? Because this will make your cats understand there are no leftovers to steal in your home.
Use a feeding station
A feeding station is a great way to keep your cat and kitten separated and make sure no food is stolen. Essentially, it is an enclosed feeding shelter for each cat.
This may sound glamorous, but it can be as simple as a repurposed enclosed litter box or carrier. Or, if you have woodworking skills, you could create something bespoke.
USe a pet door
A pet door is a great way to keep your cats separate while eating. This is better if you have an automatic pet door, or flap, that is controlled with a microchip. That will allow you to give access to just one cat.
For example, you have this door to give access to your garage. But only your cat can go in there, and not your kitten. The beauty is, that it can be set up either way. For example, you could restrict access to your adult cat as well.
Remove the kitten food (if possible)
Depending on the age of your kitten you may be able to get rid of the kitten food altogether. If you can remove it and see how your cat responds. It may discourage your cat from stealing it.
This may, or may not work. It highly depends on your cat’s preference and reasons for stealing it. For example, if it’s just to show dominance, it won’t work.
But, if the reason is that the kitten’s food was different, and somehow tempted it, then this may be ideal for you.
Offer your cat homemade food instead
One of the reasons your cat may be choosing your kitten’s food is because it’s different, or because it’s unhappy with its food. If it’s the latter you could try offering homemade food instead.
I understand that this is not the most convenient option, to say the least. Therefore, it may not turn out to be a long-term arrangement, it may just be until your kitten is old enough to eat the same food.
Monitor them eating
If you live in a small home and separating them while they eat is not an option then you may need to monitor them while they eat.
Ideally, you will still need to put some space between them, even if it’s a few meters. Just to have some form of separation. But, ultimately the final control comes from your presence.
Place their food at different heights
If you have a small home, and a separate room is not applicable, and you don’t have the budget for a feeder, etc. You could attempt to offer the food on different surfaces.
This will still need you to monitor them, because it may not be out of reach completely, but it will help to cause a barrier when space is minimal in your home.
A feeding session is another suggestion for people with small homes. This is best when you have a cat that is also an outdoor cat. In this case, you feed the kitten first, when the other cat is out.
Then when the kitten has had its fill you invite, or call the older cat in for feeding. This will need you to be present though, so it’s not a passive method like having an auto feeder.
Play the bowl game
This strategy is kind of a training method. You will offer them food and when your cat lifts its head and walks towards your kitten’s bowl you move their plate. And, if the kitten moves too, move that one too.
The idea is to make the cats understand that they need to focus on their own bowl or it will be taken away from them. This will need some time and patience to completely pull off.
Restrict the size of the kittens eating area
If you can restrict the size of the kitten’s eating area, basically too small for the big cat to get in and eat, you can help to keep it from stealing.
This could be done simply by finding an area that is perfect for your kitten. Or, if you have the skills, make a purpose-made location for it.
For example, one cat owner used a laundry basket with a tube attached. And this tube was too small for the big cat to get through. As you can see, this is quite a cheap and simple solution, but just an idea.
Place the food where the kitten cannot get to
One obvious technique is to put the cat’s food out of reach of the kitten. For example, if your kitten cannot jump up to a certain surface in your home, then you could place your cat’s food there.
Obviously, this is a short-term fix because, in time, your kitten will learn how to scale to this surface. But, hopefully, by this time your kitten should learn how to control itself.
Can adult cats eat kitten food?
In most cases, it is not ideal for an adult cat to eat kitten food. This is because of the higher calorie levels in the kitten food. However, there are some circumstances when this may be helpful. But, in general. they shouldn’t eat it.
It may seem that kitten and adult food are pretty much the same, but there are some differences (more on this later). So, it’s worth keeping their food separate.
Is kitten and adult cat food the same?
Kitten and adult cat food are not the same. Kitten’s food has more calories than adult cat food. This is for a purpose, it helps with a kitten’s growth. And, it is specially formulated for their needs.
Many cat owners assume that kitten food is the same. And, I get it, they look identical, right? Well, now you know that there are some differences.
Which older cats need to avoid kitten food?
Earlier I mentioned that some older cats could eat (click here if it acts weird after eating) kitten food. But, the ones that need to avoid it are the ones who are already overweight or have some specific health issues that benefit from a low-calorie diet.
This is one of the reasons why you need to be cautious with your cat’s diet. Especially when they fall into this kind of category.
Can kittens eat regular wet cat food?
Kittens can eat regular wet food, but it depends on their age. If they are older than 4 weeks they can start to experiment with wet food. Anything earlier is not advised.
Depending on their age they can also experiment with dry food too. Starting with a watered-down dry food to get them used to it.
Should I stop my cat from eating the kitten’s food?
If your cat is stealing all your kittens’ food you should stop doing so. But, if it’s the odd nibble here or there, out of curiosity, then maybe not.
The problem is when your cat is not getting enough food because of this ongoing problem. Also, on the other side, if your kitten is having special food, it is not designed for your older cat’s nutrition and is not ideal as a long-term food source.
If the kitten’s mother is not there can they eat solid food earlier?
Yes. If a kitten’s mother is not there then it is possible to start transitioning a kitten onto solid food earlier. This can be achieved by offering it gruel, which will be a combination of special milk replacer with cat food.
This cat starts from 3.5 weeks old. And, the idea is to gradually reduce the amount of replacer to the point when the meal is majority cat food.
What is the goal of getting a kitten onto solid food?
The goal of getting the kitten onto solid food is to help them grow healthy and strong while avoiding overeating. If they overeat it can cause obesity.
If there is any doubt about the timings of this or the amount of food for your kitten, it’s worth consulting your vet for advice#. This will allow them to assess your kitten individually because each case can be different.
When is a kitten classed as an adult?
A cat is classed as an adult from one year old. At this time they are expected to be fully transitioned to adult cat food.
However, this is a general rule. Some breeds need specific considerations for their diet. For example, long-haired cats. These cats may need the right diet to assist their shedding hair.
Therefore, the breed of a cat needs to be taken into consideration when you are considering their diet as they transition into adult cat status.
How can you transition a kitten onto adult food?
To transition a kitten to adult food you need to take your time and do it gradually. Therefore, in this section, I will give you an example of what you can do over several days.
First two days mix in a quarter of your kitten’s regular food with adult cat food. See how your kitten responds. Hopefully, all being well, you should notice that it eats it fine.
If this goes well, on the third and fourth day, offer it a 50-50 split. Meaning, 50% kitten food, and 50% cat food. This will be a gradual move from the first two days and should be seamless.
At each stage, you need to check how your cat is responding. For example, check if it is completing the food, no changes in its litter behavior, etc.
All being well, on days five to seven, transition it to 75% cat food and only 25% kitten food. At this point, if it goes well, your kitten should be well on its way to eating only cat food.
So, by day eight, if it is happy and you are seeing good responses in its behavior, meaning no changes in the litter, eating as normal, etc. Then, you can try 100% cat food and see how it responds.
Should you avoid mixing kitten & cat food?
No. You should not avoid mixing kitten and cat food. However, it is just one strategy to transition a cat from kitten to adult cat food.
Another strategy you can try, if you do not want to mix it, is to have the adult cat food in a separate bowl. This should be a small sample to pique your kitten’s interest.
The idea is to get the kitten to try a small amount on its own. If it tries it and likes it, add more the next day, but reduce the kitten food portion.
Depending on how the kitten responds you keep adding more cat food and reducing the kitten food. To the point where your kitten is eating mostly cat food. And, at this point, you could remove the kitten food.
However, it’s important to monitor your kitten during this time. For example, their litter routine, if they leave any food behind, etc.
Can kitten food make an older cat feel sick?
The only time that an older cat could feel sick from kitten food is if they have a pre-existing health condition that requires a specific diet. For example, diabetes.
Otherwise, it’s unlikely for them to feel sick from eating kitten food. Ultimately, the kitten food is not massively different, just a different nutritional mix, with different ratios of macronutrients.
What is in kitten food?
Kitten food is a liquid-based formula that is designed to emulate their mother’s milk. This has approx 40% crude fat, and about 36% crude protein.
You may notice that the fat content is quite high. This is because they require this at their age to assist the body’s development, such as their brain function.
What is in adult cat food?
Adult cat food has less fat because they do not need as much as kittens. Approx 24% fat, and %35 protein. As adult cats have already developed their brains there is less need for this high-fat diet.
So, this is why kittens need to transition to a cat diet as they reach the required age. Too much fat in their diet, as they get older is not required or healthy going forward.
Why do cats need senior cat food?
Senior cats, from about eleven years or older, progressively lose their appetite as they grow older. This can be coupled with a loss of muscle mass.
Therefore, as they age they may need a high protein diet or some supplements to help them as they age. For some cats, it’s less noticeable and a slow and gradual decline.
However, other cats can have a big change and decline to dangerous levels of health. It’s important to check with your vet if there are any concerns. They may suggest a specific diet or supplements you need for it.
Is it OK for senior cats to eat kitten food?
It is not OK to feed a senior cat kitten food long-term. If specifically requested by your vet, short term it can be fine.
But, kitten food is not formulated for a senior cat’s needs. And, therefore, it will not be meeting its nutritional needs and can cause, or contribute to health issues down the line.
When is it Ok to consider senior cats eating kitten food?
If a senior cat has had a sudden weight change. For example, it has lost a lot of weight and needs to regain it. This can be a good time to consider kitten food.
The reason for this is that kitten food is high in calories and can help to boost the weight of the senior cat. But, as stated earlier, this is not a good long-term diet for a senior cat.
Why do some senior cats only want to eat kitten food?
If you have noticed that your cat only wants to eat kitten food then this may be because it feels that its other food does not meet its needs, or it just misses the taste of kitten food.
You can try and revert it to adult or senior food by trying a different brand or flavor and see if that makes a difference. It could be a slow process of trial and error though.
How long can a senior cat eat kitten food?
There is no set time limit for a senior cat to eat kitten food. It needs to be monitored and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
For example, you need to check to see how your cat responds to it, health-wise. Let’s say your objective is to regain its lost weight, as discussed earlier, then when it’s back to its normal weight you should move it back to its normal food.
Why does my cat let other cats eat his food?
Your cat may allow other cats to eat its food because it has submitted to its dominance. A cat will eat another cat’s food for survival, instinct, or just greed.
How your cat responds to this largely depends on its social hierarchy. Meaning, that if it feels like a higher status, it will react aggressively. Otherwise, it will be submissive and accept it.
How to keep mom cat from eating kittens food?
If the mom cat is stealing the kitten’s food you will need to separate it from the kittens so they can eat properly.
This may only be needed while they eat to stop the mom cat from overpowering the kittens and making them miss out on their food.
Can kittens eat regular wet cat food?
Yes, kittens can eat regular wet cat food. But, this depends on their age and it should not be given to them immediately. They need to be transitioned into it gradually.
As discussed earlier, from as early as 3.5 weeks, depending on the kitten, you could start offering small portions of cat food or mixing it. This is mainly required if their mom is not present though.
Do cats understand that the kitten’s food is not theirs?
No. Cats do not understand or care that the kitten’s food is not theirs. If they are hungry, or just want it, they will take it with no remorse.
Therefore, in a domestic setting, you will need to monitor the situation to keep your cat under control and protect your kitten.