Categories: cat body language

How Does Your Cat Ask You For Food?

I want my cat to ask me for food. I want him to say, “Dad, can I have my dinner?”. This is anthropomorphising my cat but I don’t care. Cats are children substitutes to some people and that’s fine as long as they know it.

Simon’s cat asking for food

The classic way a cat asks for food is to meow but my cat is silent when he asks for food. I have to understand his behaviour patterns and habits to get the message but it is not that difficult. He comes to me and simply sits next to me. He looks at me and is silent. If I don’t get the message he will do it again and this time he may squeak at me before he sits down and look at me. Perhaps it is in the eyes. He does look at me as if to say, “where is the …. food?”. Or it may mean, “wake up and get your sleepy head in gear”. Something like that.

An interesting point arises when asking the question in the title. If a cat caretaker only feeds dry cat food there is no need to respond to a request for food because it can be available permanently, almost. It will go off eventually so it will have to be replaced but the lifespan of dry cat food on the plate is long.

I think it is better to oblige your cat to ask for food. Firstly, it means there are more interactions with your cat. This helps create a close bond as does the act of feeding. Therefore providing wet cat food has a double benefit as it is also healthier for your cat. I hope most cat owners have got the dry cat food message by now.

My cat is not that talkative. He has the silent meow syndrome which is cute but I am hoping that he learns to meow. He is approximately 13 months-of-age and approaching adulthood. A genuine meow would be nice.

The meow is meant to be a demand by cat to human. It is a part of the domestic cat’s evolution. I suppose the Siamese and Oriental Shorthair always ask for food by meowing because of their renowned desire to talk. But some cats do it in a more subtle way. They just place themselves next to you and look at you. You get the message and if you don’t you will the next time because he’ll be a bit more forceful.

In the early hours of the morning cats tend to wake their human companion. They do it in a variety of ways; some of them are quite forceful and very effective. Is the cat asking you to get up and participate in the activities that your cat wishes to do at 4 am? Yes, of course but he may also be asking for food.

I leave dry cat food for my cat at night with cat milk. This is for night grazing. However, he prefers the best wet cat food I can get him. Waking me up has two objectives as I see it: to go outside and explore and hunt (no way hosay) and to provide some tasty food as a early morning breakfast in preparation for the outside trip.

If this is true I would expect full-time indoor cats to behave differently. Are they less likely to wake up their human companion/caretaker in the early hours than outdoor cats? I think so. What do you think? If you look after an indoor cat does he/she wake you up for food?

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Perhaps a meow could be expected in a single, even 5 cat, household.
    Mornings are incredible in my world.
    Here, it is a demand the second I come out of my room. There is climbing everywhere, even on me. All kitchen counters are covered with cats. Damon and Dusty are on my shoulders. Poor blind Dreama is whirling like a top.
    They are only partially satiated with dry food I lay down until I can fix their wet covered with dry. It takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare all of their food while they screech like they've never eaten before in their lives.

  • Monty did the silent meows as a kitten. We think it was an instinct to protect him from predators. But now he practically screams at me to feed him. My husband, upon hearing those meows that are more like a shout says to Monty, "A predator is going to get ya!" Monty ignores him. He is fully adapted to his new situation.

    Also, because I'm very vocal he is too. I'm what teachers call an "auditory learner." So when I'm trying to figure out something or remember something I will say it out loud. I need to hear it. So yes, I talk to myself. A lot. Or I sing-- whether for fun or practicing a new song for with the kids, I sing a lot. Monty is picking up on my habits.

    When I watch him outside I can see his lips moving sometimes. He'll be walking around out there meowing. I'm watching from inside the glass door-- he is not talking to me. I'm in where it is warm. I think he is saying, "I hate this white stuff! It's so cold my paws hurt! I want to play out here but I'm getting cold!"

    • LOL. I'll wait in anticipation of Gabriel meowing at me, even screaming at me. It'll be nice sometimes ;) You have a sensible technique for remembering things. And perhaps Monty has copied you. Cats do learn as we know by observation.

  • Monty asks me for food constantly! Michael, he is getting a bit fat and it is my fault.

    Here is the situation. I am now working for the school district in which I live. I am a traveling music teacher working for four schools, helping out the music teachers. Most of these teachers also teach band and there is no way for them to cover all the general music classes and teach band lessons. So I come in for a few hours and teach the little kids while they give band lessons. I get to come home between schools for lunch. Every time I walk in the door Monty thinks he needs to eat. Plus working five minutes away I am home very early. So Monty wants supper at 3:30 when I walk in the door but he also wants it at 5:30. And he has always gotten a night snack before bed. He also always asks for food with pitiful meows as if he is dying.

    I am beginning to suspect he is not as hungry as he claims to be.

    So last night I refused to give him a second supper and made him wait until I was ready for bed for night snack. He jumped on and off my bed meowing for an hour and a half. I ignored him and kept chatting with friends via Facebook. I figured jumping on and off the bed was a good workout for him. Exercise might help decrease the chubbiness.

    When I did get up to feed him I am pretty sure he was swearing at me.

    I can't leave out food for grazing. He does not graze. He eats it all now. He does not chew the biscuits so he cannot have dry food because it makes him barf.

    I am trying to stop believing his pleas for food. His girth is betraying that he does not need it. I don't want my precious boy to eat himself into an early grave. It's all in me to refuse him and let him cuss me out all he wants. It's hard though. He is very convincing.

  • Even though I leave a little dry food in her bowl at night, she will meow for more at 2 or 3am. Not every night, but many. I don't put a lot out because she's a small eater, and the rest would get stale, at least in her opinion.

    In the morning, I usually put a little dry food in her bowl, then prepare the raw food by taking the serving size container out of the freezer. After 30 minutes or so, I put it in a saucer, mash it up with a fork, then add a bit of hot water to it. She will usually eat this up.

    If I forget the raw food, she'll just stare at me, until I realize my error. Sometimes she'll chirp at me to get my attention.

    I've noticed that she doesn't like stale dry food. That means it's been in her bowl several hours. She sniffs it, then meows. I toss all the stale food in a container for the ferals. They're not so picky. She must have forgotten her previous life as a feral. I guess that's a good thing!

    • Neat. She uses the meow most often plus some body language. My cat also will not eat food unless it is freshly put down. He is very sensitive to this.

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