Cats are stereotyped as being unreasonable little critters who love to exercise their independence. Though this stereotype is kind of true and based on fact, especially since cats are natural-born lone hunters, it doesn’t mean that cats are completely untrainable and immune to your efforts to discipline them. All it takes is patience, love, and friendliness.
For some cat owners out there, their cat only eating from its food bowl is a necessity. They don’t want their cat to try to eat from their own plate, or for it to even try to get at food stored somewhere in the kitchen. And they also don’t want their cat to take out its food from its food bowl and eat it from the floor. And of course, a cat that has been trained to eat from its food bowl only will know when its feeding time for itself, and not whenever it sights a piece of food. But how exactly do you get your cat to stay to its food bowl?
Start from a Young Age
Before we even get started with any of the training tips, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the best results are only possible if you start to train your cat from a young age. We’re not claiming it’s impossible to train an adult cat. That is definitely possible and has been done. But for the best results, and ease of training on your part, make sure to start young.
This way your cat doesn’t have a new habit forced on to it when it already knows how to do something a different way. Instead, a kitten trained to only eat from its food bowl will grow up with that idea firmly planted in its mind, to the point that it would seek out a food bowl when hungry even when outside, as that would be the only way of getting to food it would know of.
If Very Young, Use Milk Replacer
Starting from a young age is ideal, but how you go about starting the training depends on just how young the kitten is. If your kitten is very young, for example, less than a month old. It will be a very feeble little creature heavily dependent on its mother, and as such will require a lot of care and patience. To start off with a kitten so young, you will have to use milk replacements for the kitten that give it the same nutritional benefits as its mother’s milk. Solid food will be a strict no-go for some time.
To start with such a young kitten, put the milk replacement in a bowl, and then try to tempt the kitten into drinking from it. You can do this by dipping your fingertip into the milk, and then holding it out for the kitten to lick. Do this a few times, slowly moving your finger ever closer to the bowl. Eventually, hold your finger close to the surface of the milk in the bowl, and see if the kitten goes to drinking from the bowl after it is done with your finger. If the kitten doesn’t do as you hoped, feed it from a bottle or give it back to its mother, but do not give up. Keep trying, and eventually the kitten will come to see the bowl as the place it can get food and drink from.
Transitioning from Milk to Solid Food
This step is only for people who also needed the step above. Feel free to skip reading this one if your kitten is already old enough to eat solid food without any problems. As your kitten ages, there will come a time when you will have to slowly but surely transition from just milk replacements to actual solid food.
You can do this by adding kitten food to her diet of replacement milk. Start small at first; with a negligible amount mixed in with the milk. Continue to add more and more solid food to the mixture every few days until eventually, at around ten weeks of age, your kitten will be able to chew up and ingest solid food without having to have it mixed into a thick paste with milk.
Only Let Your Cat Eat from the Bowl
When your cat jumps up on to your couch and looks at you with big, wide eyes begging for a scrap of whatever you are eating at that moment, it can be hard to resist. But there is a very simple solution to that; give your cat whatever you’re eating, but only in its bowl. Get up and go to its bowl, the cat will happily follow. And then put a portion of what you’re eating into the bowl.
If you do this enough times, your cat will get the message. Never give in to laziness and give your cat your food wherever you’re seated. Even once, and your cat will get mixed messages. Stick with the bowl, and eventually your cat will automatically go and sit by the empty bowl whenever it wants to beg for food.
Try Not to Move the Bowl Too Much
Redecorating the house often ends up with cat owners choosing a new spot for their cat. What you should keep in mind is that a big part of training your cat to eat only from its bowl consists of rote learning. If you occasionally move the bowl around the house, even if not permanently, your cat will begin to think that the bowl isn’t too important. It’s not just about the bowl when it comes to rote learning; location matters too. A well-trained cat will know that the bowl is what contains the food, but most cats will be confused by the changing locations and just give up.
The Multiple Cat Dilemma
But perhaps the biggest puzzle when it comes to getting cats to eat from their bowls is when you have multiple cats in your home. Though a shared bowl is no problem for most, sometimes separate bowls are necessary; for example, separating kitten and adult cat food, or when some cats require a special diet compared to the others.
There are some ways you can go about dealing with this, but unfortunately there isn’t a foolproof method that involves multiple bowls in one room and some very polite cats. One way to go about this problem is to feed each cat in a separate room. This will require you to start feeding your cats at specific times rather than leaving food in their bowl all the time. You will also have to portion out the food so that your cats finish all of it, because leftovers will definitely attract the others.
Another thing you can try is separate feeding times for the cats. Each cat gets fed at different times, and there’s nothing the others can do about it. If you stick to this well enough, especially if you start young, the cats will learn to not interfere with each other’s food, and patiently wait for their own. And lastly, you could engage in some good old repetitive behavior if you have the patience for it. What this means is that you’ll only separate their bowls by a few feet, but never fail to grab a cat and pull it back if it tries to investigate the other bowls. Again, this will provide better results if done from a young age.
When it comes down to it, training a cat to only eat from its own bowl isn’t too difficult if done right. Unless of course, you have multiple cats. Then it’s a nightmare and a difficult test of your patience. Hmm, maybe a cat just isn’t the right pet for you. Or if they really are your type, then perhaps you also feed inclined to feed strays.