Join Date: May 2008
Location: St. Albert, AB, Canada
It doesn't sound like too big of a problem to me. Some growling about food, especially high value food, isn't abnormal at all. That being said, it could become and issue.
DON'T take the item away!!! He's growling because he's worried his special thing will get taken away - if you prove him right by taking his things away he'll get worse!
Instead you need to teach him that having you near his food means BETTER things will happen. So, approach him while he's eating, be very casual or nonchalant about it, and drop a little piece of something very tasty right next to him, then casually walk away. Use bits of cooked chicken, tiny bites of cheese, etc. The basic idea is for him to see you coming and think "Ooh! I wonder if she has something nice?" Rather than "NO!!!! She's going to take my THINGS!" which leads to bigger issues.
Do this maneuver 3-4 times during the course of his meal, it shouldn't take long for him to have a very different attitude. Once he's not growling you can try to offer a trade. Approach him, and let him sniff the yummy treat, then toss or set it 3-4 feet away and wait. If he chooses to leave the food and go to the treat that's perfect. In that case, once he eats the treat give him back his food and offer another treat as well. This will teach him that giving up his goodies means things get WAY better.
You may always need to feed him away from your other cat, but TBH it's best to feed them separately anyways in case you ever need to medicate one, or if one kitty starts showing signs of illness you'll be able to catch it right away.
*sidenote: when you have any animal that is resource guarding, especially in the stage the OPs cat is in, the absolute WORST thing you could do is take away the resource. That will encourage them to guard more strongly and you will end up creating a serious problem, rather than fixing it.
I've worked with many many dogs (dog trainer) where the owners took this tack...if they refused to change their methods it ended up in a bite about 50% of the time, sometimes to the kids in the house (usually teens or unfamiliar older children who pushed the boundaries too far). Luckily a warning bite was usually enough to convince them to change their ways, but not always. Resource guarding animals are especially dangerous to young kids, so this just isn't something to mess around with.