Cat That Steals Food

Cat That Steals Food

by Michael
(London, UK)

Cat stealing a salad! - photo by Vaguely Artistic (Flickr)

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cat stealing a salad! - photo by Vaguely Artistic (Flickr)

Do you have a cat that steals food? I got the idea to write this post from a short submission by a visitor that was too short to publish so I thought I would steal the idea :). This is what Mr. Anonymous said: day i was sitting in bed eating some chicken strips and my cat Gracie came up next to me and looked at me. i said what do you want? and she grabs my chicken and pulls. i pull back and she growls so i let go. she ran off with my chicken.(dang cat):( i was hungry.

Well, it made me smile because this person gave way to their cat. The cat won. Who said we are the boss? And who says that this cat is stealing in the first place? Cats don't steal they just expect to share in the family food in the same way that a pride of lions share the carcass of a recently killed animal. But the male gets first pick even though he probably did no hunting!

I have been challenged, lets say, over a piece of chicken. It's old Timmy again, a stray cat that I feed about every other day. He comes in at different times of the day and on this occasion he came in while I was eating dinner (on a coffee table so the "prey" was low to the ground - very inviting).

It got to the point where he was trying to cart a good size piece of chicken off my plate before I said no. Of course I didn't shout or even speak loudly, just a gentle but firm no and a little bit of encouragement by gently lifting him away from the area worked fine.

And recently, Charlie, my three legged boy has used his size to good effect to lean over when I am eating and have a damn good look. He is tempted to steal just about anything. My lady cat has never tried this. She is too ladylike.

Of course our cat companions don't just "steal" food off our plate. There is a case of a girl whose cat preferred to steal her food while it was being prepared on the kitchen counter despite cat food being on the ground.

The commonplace reaction is to do things like:

-- punish your cat (wrong, very wrong)

-- train your cat (clicker training)

-- protect the food

The last is probably the most sensible but I firmly believe that if the cat "owner" has set the scene at the outset then there will be little problem. When I say "set the scene" I mean the person should have a demeanor that tells the cat in the nicest way that they are the alpha cat, the boss. This should result, I believe, in the cat(s) being more cautious about taking food that is for us.

Cats will always look for the best in food (don't we?) but if good quality cat food is set out and if the cat is feed good quality cat food from the outset (and not trained to eat human food by constantly giving them human food) plus we are alpha, I see little in the way of problems of a cat that steals food.

Which brings me back to Charlie. My mother, bless her, used to over feed him with human food. I think his diet was two thirds human food! This is wrong from the point of view of dietary requirements and it trains our cat to eat human food, which is one reason why he tried to steal it from my plate!

There is one last topic on this subject. Sometimes cats "steal" from fellow cats. That can be quite amusing to see. Here is a video:

This is what I am talking about when I say we should be alpha cat. The white Persian is the alpha and takes the bicolor's food but oh so gently. It is like Sumo wrestling - you have to dominate by presence. But always gently and lovingly. The two can go together. This shouldn't be difficult as we are much bigger.

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Cat That Steals Food

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Mar 06, 2010 Table manners
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Cats easily learn how we humans expect them to behave, but whether they'll follow the rules of the house is a different matter.

I learned that many years ago when I left two steaks on the kitchen table only to find one of them gone when I returned two minutes later. The cat knew it was not allowed on the table, but this temptation got the better of her...

Milly a cat looking at a pancake sitting at a table
Milly sitting at table
Photo Finn Frode

The picture above shows Milly sitting nicely on my chair looking at my pancake. She knows it's not for her, but as long as she is allowed to sit there, she'll stay and she will gradually grow the neck of a giraffe.

Milly has been granted some privileges in her elder days. One is to sit on the table during our breakfast in the weekends and she very well knows the exact distance she is allowed.

That of course must be tested each time, so she'll move ever so gradually closer until we stop her. From then on she'll continue with the giraffe neck, paw tapping and begging eyes. It usually works...

Finn Frode avatar

Mar 04, 2010
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

Excellent comic video, almost human caricatures. Reminds me of my own Persian alpha female"Matahari" and her kitten"Matata".Matahari does have a tendenct to "steal" our food if left unattended and her kitten "Matata" is immitating her behaviour.

Mar 04, 2010 Cat Steals Food
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

That video was the cutest!

Although Sadie is fed high quality can and dry food, she's always looking to see what her mom has. Initially, she tried to steal food when I first got her, but I softly said 'no' and when she didn't listen, I growled at her very softly like a momma cat. She got the message and backed off.

Since then, if she wants to see what her mom has, she'll approach cautiously and gently touch my arm and wait. Her favorites include grilled chicken, baklava, green olives with pimento, salty crisps, sweet cream butter and mayonnaise - all of which she only gets a quick taste or a lick. After that, it only takes a raised hand and saying "that's enough" - she licks her chops and runs to play. Sometimes she just comes over, touches my arm or gives a rub of her head. It's very sweet.

Mar 04, 2010 My thoughts
by: Ruth

Michael, these words you wrote are so very true
'Who said we are the boss? And who says that this cat is stealing in the first place?'
A lot of people think cats should be grateful to have a home and be fed, but why should they be grateful ?
Surely each and every cat has a right to expect good food,just as each and every person has too.
Cats didn't ask to be taken from their natural world to be domesticated,they managed very nicely before humans took over their lives.
But because humans did take over their lives, their freedom and their care,they have every right to expect this is all given to them without asking.
It makes me angry when someone says something like 'It's my right to get it declawed, it's ruining my furniture'
MY right ..MY furniture ...
Surely when a cat is 'given' a home, everything in that home belongs to the cat too.
If we have children,we don't expect them to be grateful to be given food and care.We choose to have them, just as we choose to have cats. The children and the cats don't have a say in whether they want to come and live with us !
Yes there has to be a few ground rules as cats need different food and needs, to human food and needs,but the cats in our family have equal rights.
Just as children in a household come first in consideration, so should cats.
In this way,people and cats then respect each other.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

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