Does your cat prefer to eat human food rather than her regular cat food? Some cats like to eat what their owners eat. Although it is not forbidden, there is a downside that goes with it. Read on to find out why cats are obsessed with human food.
Cat is obsessed with human food: What are the reasons?
1. Cats are curious creatures.
Cats are naturally curious and watch what their owners are doing in the kitchen. They observe their owners as they cook and prepare food and want to know what it tastes like. Some cats will outgrow this stage, but others tend to become hooked on human food.
2. Cats are great imitators.
Cats are comparable to children as they are curious, playful, and energetic. Like kids, they also want to participate in and imitate what you are doing, which includes eating. If your cat sees you eating, she will likely sample what you eat if she sees food scraps on your plate or the floor.
3. Cats that are abandoned are used to eating human food.
Abandoned cats live on their own and tend to hoard food since they do not know when their next meal will be. They scavenge leftovers from garbage bins and public eating places. If they find food, they eat it quickly. Even when they are already full, they still eat any food they can get. If you adopt a stray cat that is obsessed with human food, this may explain her behavior.
Cats in animal shelters are also competing with each other during mealtime. They tend to develop food anxiety and will quickly gulp down their food so others won’t be able to snatch it from them.
4. Some cats are spoiled by their owners.
Cat owners are partly to blame when their cats become obsessed with human food. They spoil their cats and allow them to eat what the family eats. Cats that are spoiled and have become used to human food may resort to stealing it from their owners’ hands or the table.
5. Your cat is sick.
Illness can drive a cat to become ravenous and obsessed with human food. Health issues like diabetes and hyperthyroidism can increase a cat’s appetite and make it crave food, including human food. Other signs of illness that go with an increased appetite include diarrhea, vomiting, increased thirst, and sudden weight gain.
Consult your vet on the best treatment. He may recommend a diet change or prescribe some medication for your cat’s condition.
6. Your cat is bored or stressed.
Cats are smart. They know that persistent meowing to ask for food gets your attention. They tend to do this if you are rarely at home with them and they become bored or stressed.
7. Your cat could be manifesting “psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior.”
Cats with this behavior meow and paw at you to ask for food excessively and incessantly. It is a psychological condition; the typical symptoms include eating non-food items, a ravenous appetite, food-related aggressiveness, and excessively asking for attention.
What should you do if your cat is obsessed with human food?
To correct your cat’s obsession with human food, try the following steps:
Ignore your cat if she begs for food.
Do not feed your cat each time she meows and begs for food; this rewards her behavior instead of curbing it. Ignore her. If she follows you around, take her to another area of the house. If she climbs up a chair while you are eating, put her down. Be patient and do not tolerate the unwanted behavior.
Feed your cat once she stops crying and when she has calmed down. She will eventually realize that meowing and pawing will not get her what she wants.
Feed your cat at least four times a day.
Curb your cat’s obsession with human food by feeding it at least four times a day. Giving her small meals of wet cat food that are high in meat protein and fat makes her feel full for a long period. Refill her food bowl often so she can eat anytime she wants to. If you have multiple cats, separate the food-obsessed cat and feed it in another room.
Play often with your cat.
Being obsessed with human food can be a cat’s way to soothe itself if it is bored or stressed. Spend more time with your cat and play with it often. Provide your cat with stimulating toys that mimic hunting. You can craft homemade toys for her or provide a food puzzle to encourage her to “hunt” for food. Combine playtime with feeding time to make it fun and challenging for your cat and to help curb her begging and meowing for food.
Give your cat food that is rich in nutrients.
Your cat could be endlessly bugging you for food because it easily gets hungry. Feed your pet with nutritious cat food that satiates her hunger. Opt for cat food that has a balanced amount of calories, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Serve your cat various cat food choices to ascertain her preferences.
Cats require varying nutritional needs based on their stage of life: kitten, adult, pregnant, or lactating. Consult your vet to find the right food choice for your cat’s age.
Initiate positive feeding patterns for your cat.
Be firm and do not allow your cat to get what she wants. Your dinner table should be off-limits to her. Never give her raw human food as treats since it can reinforce her begging behavior. Feed your cat before your mealtime so she won’t bother you while you eat.
How do I get my cat to stop begging for human food?
Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy suggests dividing food into small chunks. He also recommends feeding your cat more frequently so it won’t be as likely to beg for food. You can also opt for an automatic feeder so your cat can have access to food anytime she wants.
Is it OK for my cat to eat human food?
Yes, it is okay for cats to eat human food, such as meat. Cats are meat eaters, and they need protein from meat to maintain a healthy body, strong heart, and good vision. However, make sure it is cooked meat. Do not feed your cat with raw or spoiled meat since it can make them sick.
Human Food that Cats Can Eat
- brown rice
- mashed wheat berries
- cooked fish, like mackerel and tuna
- fresh cucumber
- steamed broccoli
Human Food that Cats Should Not Eat
- caffeinated drinks
- dog food
- macadamia nuts
- bread dough
- raw eggs
- xylitol, an artificial sweetener in sugar-free gum and candy
It is okay for cats to eat certain human food. However, being obsessed with it could mean that a cat has an underlying health issue, like diabetes or a psychological condition. Cats also tend to become obsessed with human food if they were previously abandoned and had to compete for food with other cats. Nevertheless, this behavior may simply be due to their curiosity or because they are spoiled kitties.
Image: istockphoto.com / Valeriy_G