While Garfield prefers to scarf down a pan of freshly baked lasagna away from Jon and Odie, some cats love to eat in the company of their humans.
Unlike dogs that exhibit territorial tendencies around food, some felines enjoy eating with their owners watching or even petting them. Cats have earned a reputation for being independent. And as such, this behavior can be intriguing to new cat owners.
Why Does My Cat Want Me to Watch Him Eat?
Here are the reasons why your cat wants you to watch him eat:
1. Safety and security
In the wild, predators become the most vulnerable when they are consuming their prey. As they focus on nourishing themselves, they create a blind spot which leaves them open to attacks from other animals.
In the same vein, your cat might also feel vulnerable while eating his dinner. Although it is highly unlikely that your pet will be attacked while eating inside your home, the presence of a familiar figure allows your furry little pal to enjoy his food without worrying about his safety and security.
Felines are notorious for being creatures of habit. One reason why your cat wants you to watch him eat is that his previous owner or breeder might have ingrained in him such a habit. That person might have sat with your pet during his meals while he was still a kitten in order to make sure that he consumed all of the food prepared for him.
As time went on, the cat developed that habit and will not eat without the presence of a human by his side.
Contrary to what some people may believe, cats are actually affectionate to their humans.
And one of the ways they show their love for their owners is through affection-seeking behavior. This includes asking their owners to sit down with them while eating their meals.
A peek into cat behavior
A cat wanting you to watch him eat may seem puzzling. In order to better understand this behavior, it is worthwhile to look into three crucial factors.
These include his history, context, and his expectations.
One of the factors that greatly affect a cat’s behavior is his history. A cat’s behavior is affected and formed in response to his environment. In the case of a cat that wants his owner to watch him eat, his behavior is most likely formed around the time when he was a kitten just beginning to eat solid food.
Context refers to a feline’s current environment. This environment includes you, his living space, and everything he interacts with. As previously mentioned, cats are creatures of habit. And as such, they behave in a way that is aligned with what they expect from their environment.
One final factor that determines cat behavior is an individual pet’s expectations.
For example, if a cat grew up in a bad environment, it is highly likely that he grew in such a way that it is worrier and more responsive to stress.
Conversely, if he grew inside a loving and nurturing home, he will become confident and thrive inside your home.
A cause for concern?
Generally speaking, you should not worry too much if your cat wants you to hang around during meal times. However, if you are frequently away from your home for work or vacations, you might want to modify this behavior in your pet.
One issue that may arise from this particular behavior is that your pet can go on through a prolonged period without consuming any food. In turn, this can lead to a few gastrointestinal problems which can affect your pet’s quality of life later on.
But what exactly can you do?
The first thing that you need to do is understand that changing your pet’s behavior requires patience from your part. Through practice and persistence, you can convince your furry little pal to eat without having you around.
Start by moving his food bowl in a different location in the area where he usually eats. No, you do not need to convince him to eat in another room. Just move his food bowl in a different area.
At the same time, you should start moving away from that area after setting the food bowl down. This teaches your pet that he can eat in peace even when you are not around. It helps if you provide your cat with his favorite food during this transition period.
During this period, be sure to observe your pet and changes in his feeding habits. If he seems resistant to the changes you are introducing, you might want to seek the guidance of a feline expert. Be on the lookout for eating and gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or vomiting and schedule a consultation with your vet immediately if you notice any of these.
Image: istockphoto.com / Chalabala