Can cats share a food bowl and a water bowl?

Here’s some (cat) food for thought... If there are multiple cats in your family, should they all have separate food bowls, or can they share one?  

Cats eating

Considering cats' natural instincts, plus the logistics of owning multiple cats, it's important to give each cat their own food bowl. But cats can share water bowls. Here's why...

(On a side note, these are my favorite cat bowls for Bella and Lewie.)

Cats Hunt and Eat Alone in the Wild

Let's consider what feral cats do in the wild. What can we learn about their natural instincts - do cats prefer to eat alone or in groups?

Cat hunting

Outdoor cats are solitary hunters. An average size cat eats 6-9 mice a day, and each mouse is small (not much to share).

A cat's natural instinct is to hunt alone, eat multiple small meals every day, and not share. 

Indoor Cats Also Prefer Eating Alone

Understanding the natural behavior of feral cats helps us understand what feels most natural to our indoor cats.

According to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the most common cause of conflict between indoor cats in a multi-cat household is competition for resources. Cats can compete and develop conflicts and stress over food and water resources.

Even if you continue to fill the food bowl, and there is no actual scarcity of resources, cats may still perceive that they are competing with the other cats in the house for food.

Instinctively, indoor cats would rather eat alone, away from another cat, rather than shoulder to shoulder. So, give each cat their own cat food bowl

Reduce Aggression

Separate bowl

When it comes to food, some cats can be very territorial. (It’s in their nature after all!)

They may fight over food. They may guard the cat bowl. Or they may chase other cats away as they approach the food bowl. This is called resource guarding.

Not only does this aggression create a stressful environment among the cats in your home, but it can also create an uneven distribution where more dominant cats get more food, and less dominant cats may be left hungry.

Since Lewie had been living outside as a stray, he was very territorial and would chase Bella away from food. So, I placed Lewie's cat bowl in the kitchen, and Bella's cat bowl in office, so they could both eat in peace.

Make Meals More Comfortable

Some cats eat quickly, and some take their time.

Separating bowls allows each cat to eat calmly without worrying about having to chow down quickly or watch over their shoulders for another cat.

If a cat feels nervous during mealtime, they may stop eating altogether. We certainly don’t want that!

Indoor Cats Likely Require Different Diets

Cat bowl

Control Portion Size

Some cats need to eat more, and some cats need to eat less. Their caloric needs are based on their weight, age, a medical condition, or all of the above.

If your cats eat from the same bowl, you won’t be able to tell how much each cat is actually eating. Not knowing portion size makes it difficult if you are trying to put your kitty on a diet or help them grow.

Allows for Special Diets

Separate cat bowls are necessary if you feed your cats different foods. One cat may be on a prescription diet, a life-stage food (such as kitten or senior), or have medication mixed into their food, while your other cat eats a different type of food.

This was the case for me… my Bella has eaten a kidney-friendly diet most of her life, while Lewie eats regular indoor cat food. So, I'd put Bella's bowl in the office, and Lewie's bowl in the kitchen, so I could ensure both were getting their own special food.

Get Into the Habit Early

Even if your cats eat the same food now, chances are that at some point, they may be on different diets or different portion sizes. Getting them into the habit of not sharing bowls early on will make any future dietary changes so much easier.


Give Each Cat Their Own Food Bowl - They Don't Want to Share!

Although having cats share a food bowl is often easier, saves space, and creates fewer dirty dishes, there are so many reasons cats need their own bowls!  

Cat with own food and water bowls

Eating separate is instinctively how cats eat most comfortably. Plus, separate bowls reduce stress and promote peace as cats aren’t competing for food. Lastly, different portion sizes and diets require separate bowls.

Bella and Lewie have 14 cat food bowls between the 2 of them! Since they eat in different locations and get new bowls daily, we have a stack of clean bowls ready to go. These are their favorite cat bowls

Do your cats have enough bowls to dine separately? 

Cat drinking water

Multiple Water Sources Help Cats Hydrate

Mealtime tends to be when all cats in a multi-cat household eat. But cats tend to get thirsty and drink at different times. So, it is less likely that multiple cats will try to drink at the same time from the same water bowl. There is also usually enough water for everyone.

Have at least 2 water bowls out in a multi-cat household.


Have At Least 2 Cat Water Bowls That Cats Can Share

Place 2 cat water bowls in different rooms or on different floors in your home. That way, if one cat is guarding a water bowl (potentially a perceived scarce resource), or if food or litter falls into the water, there is another water source. 

When water is more accessible so your cats don’t have to search or travel far, they will be reminded to drink. Good hydration is so important!

I have one water bowl on each floor of the house that Bella and Lewie share. 

Our Favorite Cat Bowls

Cat eating from bowl

We use Americat Company stainless steel cat bowls, because they are made in the USA from U.S. steel in a facility that also makes healthcare and culinary products. They are evaluated to be free of lead and radioactive metals by an independent lab accredited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, so I know my kitties have safe, non-toxic bowls.

About Us: Americat Company is where love for cats meets American craftsmanship. Founded in 2016, we are a cat-loving, woman-owned, small business. We make cat products in the USA from safe, durable, U.S. materials. Shop all our made in the USA cat products here.

Learn More

See All Articles

Back to blog