Why Does My Cat Eat Human Food?

Why Does My Cat Eat Human Food?

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Food critic takes his job very seriously

Imagine settling down for a cozy, warm meal and suddenly out  of nowhere four little paws come running, and you feel the pain of razor blade claws holding on to your legs as kitten struggles to invite himself on to your  lap to peek at what you have on your plate. An adult cat just jumps directly  from the floor on to your lap and bounces to the table causing food and plate  to fly in all directions and and the rule is any food that’s on the floor is the cat’s. Yes I have that kind of cat, multiplied by two.

Why Does My Cat Eat Human Food?

 A majority of cats are quite happy and content with their  daily fare of dry and wet cat food. Some don’t even like any radical change to their diet. But there is a portion of the cat population that are connoisseurs  of human food and they feel it is their duty to sample the food and pass judgement.  Mind you, some cats can be more critical than Gordon Ramsay! I have a cat who  sniffs my food and walks away without saying anything. I couldn’t help but  wonder does she know something I don’t? If this food is not good enough for her, should I continue to eat it? Cats are mysterious creatures, they keep us constantly reading between the lines of their actions.

Cats Are Curious

They are just curious by nature. Especially kittens! They explore the world with their five senses including taste. Often, they want to know what you are cooking in the kitchen and what you are eating at the dining table. They just have to jump up and see and taste the food. Some cats grow out of this  curious stage. Others, though, come to decide that human food taste better than their cat food and they become hooked.

 Cats Are Like Human Children

 Cats are, in some ways, like human children too. Since you are their pet parent, they want to imitate you and participate in what you are doing including eating what you eat! And like human children, if they haven’t been trained yet to not touch human food, they cannot resist the temptation to sample any food you leave unattended, any scraps left on your plate which you  did not throw away or keep immediately.

Cats Know When They’re Spoiled

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Cats know when you’re spoiling them

I consider my cats not as mere pets but as part of the  family. Some cat parents, however, take this to a higher level by letting their cats join them during mealtimes and eat what the family eats. After all, the family that eats together stays together, right? This can result to the cat becoming spoiled, preferring to eat the more yummy human food over her cat food.  In worst cases, a spoiled cat would even attempt to steal food from their human’s hand. Same thing may happen when you spoil cats by giving them “treats” from what you are eating.

 Most Abandoned Cats Got By On Human Food

 I have rescued and adopted a number of kittens left abandoned at the roadsides and it breaks my heart to see how hungry they always  seem to be even when I know they’re full. They are left to look for food by  themselves while they are still very small and very young and they have  survived on scavenging for leftover human food in the trash bins. They prefer  to eat human food over cat food because that was the only kind of food they knew. I had raised a kitten who attempts to steal from my plate or from the  trash even if he has a full bowl of cat food left for him. It was difficult to  break him from his habit but I gave him some slack and more patience because of  what he had been through. He eventually learned that stealing food is not good.

 What Can I Do To Stop My Cat From Eating (or Stealing!) Human Food?

 In general, there are a number of human foods that are considered safe for the cat to eat as long as they do not eat too much of it  and it only represents a low percentage of their daily food intake. Talk with  your veterinarian as to which human food are safe for your cat and which are not. I am not averse to allowing my cats to eat human food from time to time,  just not on top of tables and when I am eating. I have some suggestions on how to prevent your cat from preferring human over her cat food. Also on how to break the habit if she has it already.

Suggestions…

  • Do not actively encourage your cat to eat human  food. They might get hooked on human food and refuse to eat their cat food anymore and this may result to malnutrition.
  • Do not use human food as cat treats.
  • Discourage begging by ignoring her.
  • Forbid your cat to jump on the kitchen counter  or the dining table and thwart any attempt to steal your food, begging or  raiding the trash by telling her “No” with a sharp voice. Be consistent when  you say “No” because once you give in, even once, your cat knows she has you  wrapped in her paws.
  •  If she keeps returning up the counter or table,  keep returning her to the floor also. If she stays on the floor reward her with her food or her cat treat. Positive reinforcement works most of the time.
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    Feed kitty on the floor so she will not go up the table

  • Feed her only on her plate and on the floor. Do not give any food on the table.
  • If she really insists on jumping up just to take a peek at the table, place her bowl on a chair or stool near the table but never allow her on the table.
  • Feed her first before you have your dinner. This way, when she is full she is less likely to bug you at mealtime. Maybe.
  • Do not leave any food unattended.  Keep lids of trash bins securely closed. It’s not the cat’s fault if you placed temptation with easy access in front her.  Unattended food and uncovered trash are fair game to cats.

More Serious Cases

If you notice, however, that aside from an obsession for human food, your cat develops a ravenous appetite for her cat food and even for non-food items (pica) and exhibits an overly clingy, attention-seeking behaviour, take her to the veterinarian for a check-up. There is a documented condition in cats called Psychogenic Abnormal Feeding Behaviour described in a veterinary behaviour journal a few years back. Cats having this condition exhibit food-related aggression, wolfs down his food and steals the food of the other household cats and even the human’s food. Have the veterinarian test the cat for metabolic and endocrine disorders like hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus which makes the cat exhibit the same signs of ravenous appetite. If she is found to have a metabolic or endocrine disorder, she can be treated for it. She might be cleared of these conditions in which case the condition could be psychological in origin and the veterinarian can give you advise on behaviour modification exercises
If you found this page useful you may also want to look at improving your cat’s drinking habits. We would advise you to get some form of water fountain for your pet to encourage it to stay hydrated. You can look into getting this product or simply just reading more about its benefits by clicking here.

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