Cats that Beg for Food – Pet tip 183
Begging behaviour is really common in dogs and normally occurs when dogs hang around humans eating at a table. They stare you down with their sad eyes; they whimper, paw you and perhaps even bark in order to get you to feed them. It really is an ‘Academy Award’ performance that they put on in order to get us to feed them. Often humans give in to this repetitive behaviour that can last a lifetime. It might surprise you to learn that cats also commonly exhibit this begging behaviour, and just like with dogs, normally humans encourage/reward the behaviour by giving in.
The problem can be even more annoying when cats do it because as we all know cats are big-time jumpers so they couple this begging behaviour with jumping. It takes no effort at all for a cat to jump in the middle of the dinner table and when they are kittens, it’s usually a hilarious occurrence especially the first few times. They are just so cute and feeding them a wee bit makes us feel good. Unfortunately, for many reasons we need to discourage this behaviour.
First off kittens are only kittens for a very short while, but what they learn when they are kittens stays with them for years. Although it may be cute when a 3 pound kitten jumps on the dinner-table, it’s usually less cute when a 10-15 pound cat jumps in the middle of the table perhaps knocking things over. More serious than that though, is the fact that even though cats are VERY clean animals, their feet and paws are on the ground, in litter- boxes, and if they have just been outdoors, who knows what they have touched with their paws. By jumping on a dinner-table, all kinds of bacteria or kitty litter residue can end up on your table as well. Although the likelihood of healthy humans getting really sick from this is probably not that high, we shouldn’t be taking these types of avoidable risks.
Secondly eating human table foods upsets the nutritional balance that cats need. Most cat foods are well balanced and developed for a cat’s specific nutritional needs. Human foods are often too fatty and greasy and feeding cats from tables contributes to the problem of feline obesity. If cats are being fed from human tables, they may not be eating enough of their own cat food and missing out on essential nutrients.
Finally, it’s just not polite to jump in the middle of a food table. Cats don’t know human etiquette so it is up to us to teach it to them and the earlier the better. Sometimes a few loud “Noooos” and removing them from the table is all you need. If that doesn’t work, a couple of quick squirts from a water bottle can do the trick. Just make sure the cat doesn’t see you squirt it. You want the squirt to be subtle so the cat associates getting squirted with jumping on the table and not one specific person squirting the cat. Make sure that ALL family members understand not to feed the cat from the table or this will not work. Normally these types of ‘punishments’ are enough to get your cat to stop jumping on the table to get human food. If you are still having trouble after trying these exercises, you should ask your vet for additional advice.