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If you’re curious how CH kitties eat, think of a toddler: food flying everywhere, covering her face. Is it always that bad? Certainly not. But CH parents need to be prepared for everything — including mealtime.

Much like drinking and using the litter box, eating for CH kitties can be a messy artform, and it may take a while for you to figure out what works best for your cat.

Feeding CH Kittens

Depending on the severity of their condition, some CH babies may not be able to eat by themselves. To help with this, try spoon-feeding your little one wet food, or whatever your vet recommends. You’ll likely have to participate in many, if not all, feedings to make sure your little one is eating properly.

The Set-Up

Unless your CH kitty has mild to possibly moderate CH, chances are you’ll have to experiment with several food dishes. Like water bowls, your CH cat’s food dish much match her abilities and needs. Many CH kitties experience head tremors while trying to eat, and consequently they may peck or bob at their food. Because of this, several factors need to be taken into consideration: namely the bowl’s diameter (so your kitty doesn’t have to aim too hard) and if it’s sturdy.

If you plan on having a kibble bowl, odds are a large, ceramic dog food bowl will do the job nicely. Skip the cat supply aisle for this necessity, as you may find most cat bowls’ diameters are too small. Metal dishes are a good option too (especially if they have non-slip bottoms), but a ceramic dish is less likely to be knocked over — especially if your kitty likes to scoop out kibble!

However, this is just the start, as some kitties may have an easier time eating out of non-traditional bowls. Look for bowls that have easy access. Another option is this smaller low-entry bowl from Petco. (Note: Some kitties are allergic to plastic, so keep that in mind if you plan to use a plastic food dish.)

And then we have several options for wet food.

Some folks use small paper plates, which makes clean-up a breeze. I prefer to use small ceramic plates and flatter dishes, which seem to work well for my cats. I think this is really a personal preference, but here are a few suggestions:

The dishes on the left are cat food dishes; you can find similar ones at your local pet store. The dishes on the right are actually appetizer plates. I use these in my home because they’re generally a bit bigger and flatter than official cat food dishes.

Some CH kitties have a difficult time leaning down and focusing on their food, so if this is the case, try placing the food on a raised platform (see the top photo). If the dishes slip off while your kitty eats, try using non-slip mats under the dishes, or find an elevated feeder that comes with removable bowls.

If you have a scooper or messy eater, odds are you’ll need a placemat to go under that food (and separate water) bowl. After a few messes are made, you’ll find that one that is easy to clean and is anti-slip is ideal. As mentioned in on the Drinking page, silicon mats are a good option as they’ll make sure your cat’s bowl doesn’t slip all over the floor. However, a regular placemat or towel can do the job nicely, too.

While the placemat is a good start, also remember to keep the floor clean around your cat’s eating area clean, as well. This is because most CH kitties are messy eaters — whether they intentionally fling food everywhere or don’t — but they’ll usually clean up too. Keeping a clean floor is not only sanitary, but if your cat decides to eat that kibble she tossed out of the bowl, she won’t be eating dirt and dustballs, too.

What’s Scooping?

Some CH kitties are known for scooping their kibble (even wet food at times) out of the bowl and on to the floor, where they then eat it. CG began do this at an early age, but I’ve yet to catch Ellie. Some can even scoop the food from the bowl straight to their mouth.

Find out more about scooping here.

Other CH cats lay down while they eat, and may rest their heads on the bowls.

How does your CH kitty eat?

41 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2012 3:19 pm

    I use a big plastic dog bowl for mine. His is fairly moderate and he’s improved with the diet we feed him, and with age. It’s got duct tape under the bottom so it won’t move, and i’ve got that, and his water fountain sitting on a big cookie pan (also taped underneath).
    It seems to work well, and contains the kibble flying everywhere!
    He does have a habit of scooping up a mouthful in his jaws and running over to his sleeping mat, dropping it on the floor (sigh) and eating it off the floor 😛

  2. Sandy permalink
    June 8, 2013 11:28 am

    Our CH kitty, Flaming Chi To, tosses his head when he eats. It looks like the way some people toss their heads when they are taking a pill. Unfortunately for him, some of the food goes flying out of his mouth. This doesn’t keeping him from being a fast and thorough eater. His wet treat bowl is nearly sparkling clean when he’s done.

    He doesn’t do the head toss when drinking. As far as I can tell, he drinks normally.

  3. Alice permalink
    February 22, 2014 10:25 am

    I feed my cats blue buffalo dry food. It’s expensive and I think the size and shape is harder for Shakey (our CH kitty) to eat. I was feeding him diamond brand which is larger and flatter but he appears to be allergic and breaks out in hives. What brand are you feeding them that seems to be the easiest to eat? Shakey kind of scoops up and tries to eat what he gets and a lot of it flings out of his mouth. Also do your CH kitties seem to always be hungry? I also feed him 1 small jar of beechnut stage 1 chicken in broth a day and he eats this pretty well from a small oval cat food dish.

    • February 24, 2014 9:58 pm

      Hi Alice,

      I feed Friskies dry food for indoor cats. The pieces are small and don’t seem to give Chi To any problems. He gets wet food for a treat every morning and evening – a quarter of a can each time. That is also Friskies. He is messy with both of them. 🙂

      Chi To is always hungry, or nearly so. He does eventually get full. CH cats, even mild to moderate ones, have to work harder to do everyday things than non-CH cats. Everything but sleeping takes more effort. Because of this they burn more calories than non-CH cats and so need more food.

      We also have a three-legged cat who is missing his left front leg. (He’s a former shelter kitty who was brought in with the leg having been broken but never tended to, so it “healed” into a useless, twisted limb that had to be amputated.) Since walking and playing with Chi To is hard work for Mr. Midnight, he also eats a lot.

      Shakey is such a cute name for your cat! I hope you both have a lot of fun together! 🙂

    • Marie permalink
      May 17, 2016 10:24 pm

      Fromm, very small kibble, grain free and comes in dif flavors!

  4. Caitlin permalink
    August 7, 2014 1:19 pm

    Thanks for all the advice! I’m so excited to try some things I just read on here, like taping bowls down. I work as a vet tech for a rescue, so I have always been familiar with wobblys. When a sweet and skinny one pound 8 week old came in with moderate to severe ch, I knew immediately I needed to adopt her. I named her Sara Bella, and she is still small for her age, but is growing nicely. I have been using large plastic Chinese food containers for her food and water, but I know plastic can often cause chin acne and allergic skin reactions, so I’ve been wondering if I should switch back to ceramic. I’ve been so scared that she will break a tooth on her bowl, because she pecks at her food so hard. Occasionally she lays down to eat, but sometimes she tries to stand and repeatedly falls face first in the bowl. I love the idea of taping the bowls down. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that. That will make everything much less messy. I think I will also try to make a feeding stall. I have essentially made her a litter box stall, (high walls on 3 sides for leaning, and another litter box at the entrance in case she misses) because she usually lays down on her side to use the box, and sometimes sticks her butt out of the entrance. This has almost completely stopped by adding the extra box in the entrance. I’m glad that I seem to need to do less baths.

    • Yolanda permalink
      September 3, 2014 8:45 pm

      It is so nice that you took the kitty home. Our Ellie lays on her side too when she needs to eat. I use the RubberMaid bowls high enough to hold the food and easier as she pecks to eat. A lot of times I like to help her by holding the top of her head with my hand gently. She also lays in the litter box as she cannot stand now. I use the puppy pads on both sides of the litter box since she cannot turn to exit and helps if there are any misses. Good luck with her. I know we just love our Ellie so much too. PS she is a peanut too. Only 6 pounds!

  5. Vicky permalink
    September 9, 2014 9:50 am

    I have a 2-3 week old kitten with ch, im having a really hard time feeding him. I have the kitten formula and bottle, ive also used a syringe. He just wont eat. Please if u have anything i can do let me knoe! Thank u

    • November 12, 2014 12:19 am

      Hi Vicki, we just adopted a CH kitten, our vet believes she is about 6 weeks old. We use a bottle with some formula for kittens, but we also use a flat plate and hold the plate just under her neck for pate type kitten food, we use Natural choice soft loaf and she just loves it. she sure can make a mess but tipsy is worth it.

  6. meg permalink
    November 17, 2014 4:16 pm

    thanks for the tips! only recently found out my cat may have super mild CH. she is a messy eater but that i think is more because she pushes her cat bowl around, i will try the large dog bowl idea

  7. Taryn permalink
    February 27, 2015 3:17 pm

    Hi! My CH kitty, Porter, was a healthy eater when we first brought him home along with his (non-CH) sister Piper. About a month later, I noticed him losing weight and finally started paying closer attention during their eating time and realized he wasn’t eating the way he used to. He would only eat a few bites and walk away and then his sister would just eat everything else he left behind as the day went on. No wonder she seemed to be getting a little chubby! We started various things to see what would entice him to eat. What’s odd is that his favorite thing to do is eat out of our hand. Not sure if that’s because his head doesn’t bob when he is just eating out of one cupped area, or what, but I can feed him his entire bowl this way and he eats it right up. I also recently tried raising his dish on top of a upside down loaf pan and he seems to like that, but quits eating when the food is no longer pooled into one area of the bowl. If I turn the bowl at an angle so the food is all in one pile he will finish it. He also sometimes doesn’t seem interested in eating, but then I give him a handful of food which he eats and then I lead him to the bowl with that hand and he’ll start eating. I was also wondering if him hitting his head all the time (those two LOVE to play and his bad coordination has him running into things a lot) may be affecting his sense of smell that would entice him to eat. Does anyone else have experience with this?

    • Holly permalink
      July 18, 2015 7:07 am

      Hi Taryn. I recently adopted brothers Guy (ch kitten) and Boots (non-ch kitten). Thanks for your post. Like your two furbabies, Guy doesn’t eat much and Boots finishes it up. So far, I feed Guy in a saucer, but I would like to find him his own bowl. I am currently searching for a way to help Guy with toileting, he’s very messy. I didn’t realize how much TLC this little man needs. It is an absolute delight to watch the brothers play together. I am so glad I took them both! Before too long, Boots will get to explore the outdoors and Guy will go out supervised.

  8. Danette permalink
    April 3, 2015 3:10 pm

    I have two brother CH kitties I adopted. They will be 2 this month. I had to find everything out the hard way, and they both do things differently. Buddy is the bigger one and he likes to stand when he eats even though he wobbles and bobs. Boo Boo is the smaller and likes to lay down to eat. I spoon feed them but they can eat on their own pretty good. Boo’s CH is more advanced than Buddy’s. He gets a round, but it’s difficult. They both use the littler box but they get a bath about once or twice a week from falling in it. They lay down when they go and we wait with them until they start to go and help when we can. We’ve been scratched and they don’t like to get out, because they are normal kitties that like to cover it up. We cover it up for them and then scoop it out right away to prepare for the next time they get in. We feed them in long three part plastic containers like you would use at a picnic. Buddy is at one end and Boo is at the other and the middle is empty. We use plastic because they could break a tooth bobbing to eat on glass. I’ve noticed when they get cat treats, we put them on the floor and they have to get so close to them when they eat them, that their already shaking eyes, really can’t see the pieces. So they have to feel for them.
    I have never had two more loving cats it all my life. They are funny, and happy and loving and playful. They both have different little quirks. We keep them in a LARGE dog cage at night so they can’t get hurt. (we have other cats) I spoil them rotten and they love us. They don’t “meow”. (unless you accidentally step on a tail when they fall in front of you) They purr at you when they want something, instead of meow. I could go on and on. We love them so much. I would take in more if I could. God bless the human moms who take these sweet babies in. Danette

    • cheryl e mcgathy permalink
      May 17, 2020 10:25 am

      let me know if you are serious about wanting another one I have a 7 week old and I foster for a rescue I am trying to fine a rescue that specializes in this because I have so many fosters and so active with other dutes in the rescue I cant give her the attention she so needs. You can text me at 8124306186 maybe someone can guide me in the right direction.

  9. George permalink
    July 6, 2015 10:13 pm

    I have had my little guy for almost 8 hours. I am just beginning to find out what he can and cannot do. I won’t give up trying to help him overcome this. I saw something pretty amazing on you tube and their little guy couldn’t even stand up.

    • Veda Maas permalink
      July 9, 2015 1:54 am

      Hi George!

      Could you share? I am trying to do all I can as well, and I am afraid I am not doing her any favours by doing EVERYTHING for her…

  10. Emily permalink
    July 7, 2015 5:04 am

    My CH kitten Nova dose this cute little pecking and bobing thing when she eats out of her bowl or when you give her a treat. You have to hold the treats for her or they fall out of her mouth and she has a hard time finding them.

  11. Veda Maas permalink
    July 7, 2015 5:23 am

    Hi all!
    I am a new CH mommy and getting used to all of the little things that goes with it. My little one has been with us for 10 weeks now and everyday we learn something new. She has severe CH and can not eat or drink on her own at all. Which means 4 or 5 feeding sessions during the day.
    She was doing OK, but lately started choking/gagging while eating dry and wet food. It is so traumatic that she looses interest and stops eating – which is a problem in itself as she is a fussy eater and struggles to gain weight. Is this problem related to the CH or should we investigate another diagnosis? I was in tears this morning as I hate seeing her struggle even more – sometimes I wish she could talk to e so I could help her better…

  12. Cathy permalink
    September 27, 2015 5:21 pm

    Hi. I have a 5 year old CH kitty. I found here when she was first born. I love her so much. She has moderate CH , she can walk but fall over a lot. I help her in the litter box I hold her up which I believe makes her feel more normal and for me less mess. She eats and drinks by herself, she does well. She was a feral cat so she can have a small disposition once in awhile. Lol. I need to get her soayed has anyone ever gotten there CH cat fixed. I’m very nervous about it but she had a uterine infection and my vet said it needs to be done. Please lwt me no if anyone has.

    • February 18, 2021 10:18 am

      I had my ch kitty neutered at nearly 12 weeks as my appt was at least 2 weeks out when I called. He did just fine! He does not chew his hard food well and may need to hand feed some soft. He has a mild form; seems less shaken as we play with a fishing toy and his focus seems to be getting better. It has taken time to progress a little as I was told he wouldn’t get any worse or any better. He’s my sweetheart and I named his Sammy. I found mama and her 4 babies when they were 3 weeks young. I lost mama to FIP, but only 1 kitty of the four has ch.

  13. Jessica permalink
    September 29, 2015 11:41 pm

    Are CH kitties over-eaters? I’m fostering a CH kitty for my rescue and it seems like he will eat and eat until I stop him! He’s only 3 weeks old but I think he could eat a whole can of food in one sitting if I let him!

    • Pearl R. Meaker permalink
      October 14, 2015 3:39 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      I don’t think it’s so much that they are over-eaters as it’s that they have to work harder to do everything. With their balance issues and odd head movements while they eat, they expend a lot of energy just doing everyday things.

      Flaming Chi To was a bottomless pit when we brought him home from a shelter at 9 weeks old. He’s three years old now and still eats more than our other cats, but not nearly as much as he did as a young kitten. He is a Colorpoint Siamese and has the Siamese tendency toward being very active, so he stays slender – but yes, he still a big eater.

      Don’t worry about it unless he starts getting fat. Then just cut back a little bit on his serving sizes.

      Have fun, CH kitties are sweeties!

    • August 18, 2016 12:49 pm

      Because ch kitties burn off more energy than normal kitties they need to eat more huni so they don’t over eat at all. Xx

    • July 25, 2017 6:26 am

      I have a ~9 month old male street rescue, mild CH, he eats like a pig! He must be up to 15 lbs already. He’s kind of ADHD so sometimes I think he may eat out of boredom lol. Just stopped leaving dry food in the bowls all the time and now doing scheduled feedings to gain a bit of control on how much is being fed. The other two cats (not CH) don’t seem to mind the change.

    • January 7, 2018 4:57 pm

      I too am curious about my CH 5 month old kitten overeating. I think its true that they have to expend more energy just doing basic things and experts tell us to let kittens eat all they want. It would break my heart to deny him all he wants, but his belly is always bulging. His ch is fairly mild but he has other problems – poor vision and seizures. I would love to hear from anyone – experience, advice, etc.

  14. Barbara Morrissey permalink
    January 8, 2016 1:45 pm

    Weeble is a scooper with the kibble, so the dish is on the newspaper,easy to clean up. He began to lose weight so special wet food was added.What is working now is to blend it, warm it a bit, use a small desert dish,and hold it so he can slurp it up. I kneel on the floor to do this, otherwise he falls in the food…a mess and a waste .Up to 7 pounds last week!!Sometimes his tummy seems full so I just stop, and come back in a few. Twice a day feedings.

  15. Lisa permalink
    February 9, 2018 7:55 pm

    I’m fostering a kitten that possibly has ch. she seems to only lick food and I’m not sure if she’s really getting enough to eat or if she’s just pushing it around with her tongue. Any advice would be appreciated.

  16. Kimberly permalink
    June 16, 2018 11:08 pm

    My kitten BittyBob pecks at his food and I worry he is not getting enough to eat. He seems to be losing weight instead of gaining weight. I have tried the spoon, a dropper and the plat form methods. However after only a few bites he walks away I have to keep redirecting him back to his bowl. Does anyone have any ideas how to encourage him to eat better?

  17. jay permalink
    July 18, 2018 4:46 pm

    We rescued Typsy who is now 3 1/2 years old with severe CH, and she was just a little thing when we got her. From the start we noticed she would peck the food, but as she was unable to stand or sit at her dish i feed her while supporting her between my body and my arm, holding the plate (flat plate) and scoop the wet food into a pile with my finger so when she pecks she gets a good mouthful of food. careful should you try this as boy that hurts when the finger swipe of food coincides with a bite from her. when she is done eating I;ve taught her to blow her nose as with that pecking she does she will get food up there. tickling both sides of her nose does the trick, before i would cover her nose holes so she would blow out anything up there. I mix in at times some dry food with the wet, and times i use her favorite treats on top of the food to entice her. old bedsheets on the floor work well if the kitty “kills” each bite of food like typs does, and somethimes the food fly’s!. I just place a towel over my lap and put her on the towel next to me. to keep it from getting all over the couch. Good bonding time and when she is hungry she will sit to my right and get into the position she eats in letting me know she wants something to eat so that works well. feeding her in the morning and again at night. Hoping some part of this helps you.

  18. Olivia Buch permalink
    April 29, 2019 11:53 pm

    Hi! My ch cat’s name is Galileo, and she was an underweight issue. I’ve solved the problem of poor food quality from Purina by switching to a 90%+ protein diet with duck fat supplements. But I now think the biggest issue is how she physically eats. When she tries to eat dry kibble, the food always falls from her mouth. I am not sure how I can accommodate this. She can easily chow down wet food, but the canned food is very expensive and I try to reserve cans for night meals. Any suggestions on how I can help her eat dry food?

    • Val Maloney permalink
      August 15, 2019 8:06 am

      I feed my CH kitties their kibble on a thick placemat.

  19. Val Maloney permalink
    August 15, 2019 8:15 am

    I feed the kibble on a thick placemat. This helps because they have trouble picking up the kibble from a plate.

    I put the wet food in a blender with water and serve it on a flat plate. It’s easier for them to lick it up. And, there is the added benefit of them taking in more water.

    I still need an idea for making it easier for them to eat the wet food that has “cuts” and gravy. They struggle to get the cuts off the plate. They love this type of wet food but struggle to pick it up.

    Any suggestions will be appreciated.

  20. Kimberly Ragsdale permalink
    August 27, 2019 7:22 am

    My ch kitten is only 6 weeks old . This is my first one , his 4 siblings do not have ch. We are planning on adopting out the others in a couple of weeks, but have decided to keep him. The others are eating food and drinking water ,but he doesn’t seem to be interested in either. He walks just fine despite the tremors and falling over. He’s a lot smaller than the others , and I’m concerned about him starting to eat, the mother cat is starting to ween them. I’ve tried to spoon feed him but he’s not at all interested in it. Any suggestions would be appropriated.

    • Lauren permalink
      October 27, 2019 4:57 am

      I adopted a CH cat from a shelter several months ago. He was an owner surrender and thin, but fortunately he was active and friendly. His adoption fee was reduced, which broke my heart. His CH is moderate to slightly severe, he can walk but it’s in an awkward high horse-stepping manner, with a wide-stance gait,,,and there is a lot of falling over.

      I’ve found the more pronounced the ataxia, the thinner the body condition, but he was very thin due partially to his head severely bobbing when trying to eat. He also had chipped and broken canines, missing teeth, and has difficulty holding food in his mouth as well as picking it up from a bowl.

      After his first meal at my home I realized traditional bowls and traditional feedings were not going to work for him. I found that a STYROFOAM PLATE works best as it offers some cushion from the impact of his head bobs when trying to eat. As well…and DEFINITELY THE MOST IMPORTANT PART….is that I HAVE TO ASSIST HIM IN EATING. It takes a little extra time but CH cats are special needs and sometimes require extra time and care. He allows me to gently hold his head steady when he dips down for a bite, keeping his head from pecking up and down. I simply place my hand on the back of his head, I don’t press down or use pressure, my hand simply keeps his head from popping back up. This has worked successfully from day one and within just a few weeks he put on several pounds. If I try to allow him to eat on his own (I only tried this once later on), he gets frustrated by being unable to pick up food and gives up after eating only a few bites.

      I have a multi pet home and feeding canned food exclusively is very expensive. I have found that MIXING A STICKY PATE’ WITH DRY KIBBLE makes it easier for them to pick up and keep in their mouth due to the sticky nature of the pate’, plus the kibble makes it a little easier on our wallet. If you have a canned formula you like and it’s a shredded or morsel type, you can put the wet food in a food processor and blend it down to a soft pate’ and use that with the kibble. I do this often and find that about 10oz of canned food (approx 2 short sized cans) can be processed and used while still fresh, simply refrigerate in an airtight container.

      Each CH cat has individual needs, but I hope some of my suggestions help everyone in finding the right routine for their kitty.

  21. November 23, 2019 9:10 pm

    I just adopted a stray CH kitty kitten and I’ve only found out a week ago what her problem was. Thank you for your information it is helpful

    • Val Maloney permalink
      November 24, 2019 3:02 pm

      I have had my CH kitties for several years. They have trouble eating because they peck like a chicken. I blend the pate with water in the blender and it is easy for them to lick it up rather than trying to pick up the pieces. The dry food I put on a nubby cloth placemat. I roll up one side so they can push the kibble up against the placement.

  22. April 20, 2020 10:16 am

    My mama cat had a litter of 3 kittens and one of them has ch . We would like to to find a home for her, but knowing this may take awhile , we are preparing to care of her needs. She is only 8 weeks and is just starting to eat wet kitten food that we are feeding her from our hand, though not ideal this is how we are getting her to eat at the moment. She is smaller than a normal kitten at that age and of course she has a hard time focusing on the food unless it’s right in her face. Any ideas and suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

    • lesley permalink
      September 30, 2020 10:40 pm

      i first started out by placing a round neck pillow under my kittys belly using a regular bowl, after a while she got an attitude about it so i now use slanted bowls on a stand and put a throw pillow in front. she lays across the pillow and can just put her head in the bowls. they take a little more care than ‘regular’ cats but they are amazing. would i take another one? sure would.

  23. February 18, 2021 10:04 am

    My Boy has mild cerebullar hypoplasia – but his brother I also have was not affected. I have bowls that snap on into a plastic elevated feeder. One side is for hard, the other for water. Well he is a messy eater, one concern I have is that he does not chew his food or his treats. He doesn’t seem to want soft food, maybe I should try once or twice a day to hand feed him soft food. I’m thinking I may need to change that other bowl also to an extra hard food eater since I have his brother and how they raised up ceramic water bowl well off to the side. I will try options but my concerns as I’ve stated, And him not chewing his hard food. Any reply would be Greatly welcomed. Thank you

  24. JUDITH SEDAITIS permalink
    April 23, 2021 9:36 am

    Am not sure what illness my kitty has. MIght be ataxia, because he recently has problems swallowing! Has anyone seen this problem in CH cats? Im trying to figure out if he needs treatment! Thanks for any comment.


  1. Watch Nodia, a Moderate CH Cat, Eat From Her Food Bowl « Life with CH Cats

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