A Jack Sprat Parable
Hello, My cat Reesee is 20 lbs and has a very
small frame. I have a multiple cat household and
they all eat from the same bowl. How do you
attack a weight issue for one kitty without
causing the other "normal" weight kitties to
lose unneccesarry weight?
Desiree, take heart from the fact that you are in good company. I have dozens of clients who are in your predicament. One cat in the house has, shall we say, a robust appetite. The others are less food-motivated. If you restrict the total amount of food offered to all of the cats, the one with the strongest appetite will probably consume the lion's share.
There are, however, some tricks that you can use to fight this situation. They are all schemes that restrict the amount of food that the heavy eater consumes, but allow the light eaters to get their share as well.
One method is to abolish the all day, all-you-can-eat buffet system and feed meals instead. The light eaters can be fed together. Reesee, however, will have to eat in a separate room. This allows you to control how much Reesee eats, but it is less convenient than simply having one food bowl out all the time. Also, it won't work if the light eaters can't transition from grazing throughout the day to eating only at mealtimes.
If Reesee is like most 20-pounders I know, she isn't as limber as her cohorts, nor can she jump as high. If the method above doesn't work, you can try leaving food for the more active cats on a counter or shelf that Reesee can't get to. Be creative. For instance, some people install baby gates to block access to food. Fit cats have no problem bypassing such obstacles. Heavier cats might not manage to get through. However, remember that a truly dedicated individual may be able to accomplish remarkable feats in order to get what she wants--food, in this case.
Finally, if you want to go high-tech, you can keep the all-day food source in a room that is accessible by an electronic pet door. These devices allow only specified individuals (the thin cats) to pass through them. This option is more expensive than the others. But if convenience is your priority, it could be the way to go.