Help your food-obsessed cat by:
- Scheduling playtime more often.
- Give it cat food high on nutrients.
- Feed it in its bowl only.
- Feed it often.
- Ignore the crying and feed it when it is silent.
Your cat could be obsessed with food because it is sick, bored, curious, or is a former stray cat.
You are just about to have your meal, but your furry friend won’t leave you in peace because it wants to have a share. Perhaps, it is because of learned behavior, your cat’s background, or an underlying medical condition, as we shall soon explore.
In this article, I will tell you all the reasons as to why your cat is obsessed with human food, what you can do to discourage the behavior, and the disadvantages of giving human food to cats.
Read more, to know the recommended ways to effectively stop your cat from eating or stealing your food, and when you should see a vet.
How to Help Your Food-Obsessed Cat
Once your cat develops a preference for human food, it may be constantly begging for it or even stealing it. Here are practical ways to discourage the behavior:
1. Don’t Reward the Crying Habit
It is normal for us cat owners to want to feed our feline companions with human food as treats each time they start begging for food. However, this is rewarding the behavior, and chances are your cat will see this as the only way to make you give in to its demands.
If your cat follows you to the kitchen demanding food, calmly take it to another area of the house and ignore it. Only feed it cat food when the crying stops. If it climbs your armchair when you are eating, put it down. Do not reward the habit and be patient until it stops.
I know the crying can drive you crazy, but if you always ignore your cat at this time and feed it when it has calmed down, it will eventually learn that the crying habit does not help to get what it wants.
2. Feed your cat more often
If your cat acts wild when seeing food, try feeding it wet cat food that is high in meat protein and high fat, which means it will stay full for a long time. Feed your cat at least 4 times a day.
Cats are programmed to consume small meals throughout the day, so why not mimic this natural eating pattern. Fill its bowl with small quantities of food and refill it often.
If your cat was once in a shelter, it may be anxious about food. It was used to scrambling for food with other cats. Feeding it often will reassure it that its meal is always available, and it does not have to struggle with other cats while eating.
If you have more than one cat, try feeding your food-obsessed cat in a separate room, away from the others, as one cat owner suggests.
3. Play often with your cat
Boredom or stress can cause your cat to over-eat to soothe itself. Stimulate your cat by incorporating more playtime sessions into its routine.
Food puzzles are a great idea as they encourage your cat to hunt for food. In the process, your cat’s mind is kept engaged, and this helps in slowing down its obsessive eating habits. The good thing about cat’ toys is that you don’t have to spend a fortune.
You just need to be creative and make your cat home-made toys from simple and easily available materials. Perhaps take an empty plastic bottle, make holes in it, and fill it with kibbles.
As you give your cat more attention through playtime sessions, you will notice that the meowing will reduce.
Combining activity with feeding time through interactive plays such as feed-challenged toys will make your cat find feeding time more fun and challenging, while offering it the opportunity to burn some calories.
4. Feed it cat food that is high on nutrients
Cat food that has low nutritional value could be the reason why your cat gets hungry all the time. The best cat food should have proper amounts of vitamins, calories, and nutrients. Some cats prefer cat food, while others enjoy eating wet food or both.
Dry food contains fiber sources, milk products, meat and poultry by-products, and fish meal. The main advantage of dry food is that it is inexpensive, and does not dry out, so it can be stored for several months. However, most cats don’t like its taste, and it may be too hard to digest.
Semi-moist cat food mainly contains meat and meat by-products. It is quite expensive and cannot be stored for a long time once it has been opened. Most cats prefer semi-moist food.
Canned food which is high in moisture, is the most expensive type of cat food. Most cats find it highly palatable, and it can stay fresh for a long time when unopened. Once opened, keep it refrigerated as it can quickly go bad.
Your cat’s nutritional requirements depend on its age. Each stage of life; kittenhood, adulthood pregnancy, and lactation, requires varying nutritional needs. Check the cat’s food label to indicate if it’s the correct one according to your cat’s stage of life.
Your vet can help you choose the right cat food with the proper nutritional value for your cat to thrive.
5. Establish positive feeding patterns
Ensure your dinner table is a no-go zone for your cat. Whether there is food on the table or not, your cat should never be allowed on the dining table. Be firm in putting it down. Feed it on its bowl and not on your plate.
Avoid giving your cat raw human food as treats. It may not only reinforce the begging behavior but also be harmful to your cat. Another trick is to feed your cat before your mealtime. It will less likely bother you when it is full.
Boredom, Sickness, and Background
Granted, some cats will do just fine with their dry or wet cat food. But other cats just don’t seem to be content with what you give them. Instead, they want what is on your plate.
Here are possible reasons why your cat wants to eat human food:
1. Your cat is curious
If you have a kitten, this curiosity is even more intense. Your cat’s curious nature moves it to want to explore the world; know what you are cooking, how your food tastes, and steal it when you are not around.
Some cats will outgrow this curious behavior, but others will become addicted to human food even as adults because they prefer how the food tastes compared to their cat food.
2. An abandoned cat is used to human food
Most people who work in rescue shelters will tell you how famished abandoned cats are. They seem to be always wanting food even when it’s obvious they are full. Abandoned cats are left to fend on their own even when they are kittens.
They are used to scavenging for leftover food on dustbins, public restaurants, and other places. Community cats don’t know when the next meal will come, so when they find food, they will eat it very quickly. If your cat was once an abandoned cat, this explains why it seems to be obsessed with human food.
Cats who have been in shelters develop anxiety for food. Since there are many other cats it may have learned to gulp down the food fast, competing with other cats who may want to snatch food from its bowl.
3. Your cat is sick
Some of the medical reasons as to why your cat acts so ravenous each time it sees human food are diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and parasites. Increased appetite with these accompanying symptoms could be an indication that your cat is sick:
- Increased thirst.
- Unexplained weight gain.
It could be time you arrange for a trip to the vet.
Your vet will help you decide if your cat needs a diet change, or he might prescribe medication to curb the behavior.
4. Your cat is bored or stressed
After living with you for some time, your cat may have observed that its meowing for food always gets your attention. Thus, it may beg for food each time you want to eat simply to get your attention.
This is especially true if you have a busy schedule and are rarely at home. If your cat lacks attention, it could become bored, even stressed and cry out loudly, begging for food.
5. Psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior
Feline researchers have found that obsessive behavior towards food could be an indication that your cat has a psychological condition. If your cat meows and paws at you demanding food, it could be suffering from what is referred to as psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior.
According to the owners of a Siamese cat that was studied in the report, the symptoms of this condition are:
- Ravenous appetite
- Eating non-food items
- Excessive solicitation of attention
- Food-related aggressiveness
In such a case, it is important to reduce your cat’s exposure to stress, such as loud music or shouting. Schedule playtime and rewarding good behavior were some of the methods used to treat the cat in that study.
Human foods you can give your cat
It is not wrong to give your cat a little bit of human food as long as it is cooked. You just need to know how to give your cat snacks with the right nutrients. Cooked meat gives your cat good vision and a healthy reproductive system.
Cooked fish is also a good treat to help your themwith arthritis, kidney, and heart disorders. Many cats also love cooked whole grains such as corn, as it has a good texture for them.
Human foods you should not give your cat
According to the ASPCA, here are foods that you should avoid giving your pet:
- Chocolate: Theobromine is a substance found in chocolate and can cause chocolate toxicity in cats. Don’t give your cat dark or unsweetened chocolate as it contains high amounts of this substance.
- Grapes and raisins: the toxic substance in grapes and raisins is unknown, but they can cause kidney failure to your cat.
- Salty snacks: large amounts of salts can cause your furry friend to become too thirsty, or start to vomit. Don’t give it salty snacks like potato chips.