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Cat won't eat unless I'm around

peeks
May 26th, 2008, 12:46 AM
Hi all! My six year old spayed domestic shorthair, Caramelle, absolutely refuses to eat unless I'm at home AND awake. She's been this way since I got her in February but I was hoping things would change as she got adjusted to her new surroundings. For example, if I leave some canned food out in the morning for her to eat, it'll usually be untouched when I get back home for lunch (a gap of about 5 hours). Upon seeing me return, she'll walk over to the bowl and wolf down the contents. It's the same story if I happen to leave food out before taking a nap. I wake up to find her sitting on the bed, burning holes through me with her stare :eek: Once both my feet hit the floor, she's darts off and attacks the food bowl. Whenever possible, I try to be around while she's eating but sometimes I have no choice but to fill the bowl and leave. Is this separation anxiety of some sort? Her odd eating behavior has also disrupted any feeding schedule I try to implement. How can I get her to eat without me hovering around constantly? I'd really appreciate any help with this!

growler~GateKeeper
May 26th, 2008, 01:29 AM
Do you know any of her history before you got her? - was she a stray or did she live in a home with several other cats?

It sounds like she is waiting for your "permission" to eat (her being lowest pack member eating last/when you allow) or waiting for your "protection" before she eats ie its as if she had been attacked while eating, and she waits to make sure someone is watching out to make sure it doesn't happen again. Often times in multiple cat houses or stray/feral colonies cats will be fine w/each other until feeding time then they will fight over the food or who eats when. I wonder if that happened with Caramelle?

It seems the best way to ensure she is eating properly & enough is to consistantly meal feed canned food. Will she eat when you are home, awake but out of the room doing something else? In the morning take a few extra minutes before you shower/get ready for work/school to feed her then while she is busy eating quietly leave the room. When you get home after work/school feed her again, wait until she in engrossed in the food, then you can leave the room to do something else. You can gradually increase the amount of time you are out of the room while she is eating.

Does the placement of her dish make her face the wall while eating? this leaves her back exposed to any potential threats. Try moving the dish away from the wall, so she has the option of sitting with her back to the wall & can see anyone coming. Might make her more comfortable.

peeks
May 26th, 2008, 08:31 AM
Thanks growler, your explanation makes perfect sense. Caramelle was originally bought from a pet store :cry: as a kitten. Apparently the owner got tired of feeding/taking care of a growing kitty and began to 'mistreat' her (the shelter workers didn't specify how). His girlfriend (god bless her) rescued Caramelle and dropped her off at the shelter where she spent quite a long time from what I understand. The shelter is definitely a multi-cat environment which has a bunch of rooms with X number of cats in each one. It could be that she had to put up with some hissing and scratching at meal time. But going back to what you said, yes she does seem quite cautious while eating. Every now and then she'll look over her shoulder to see if I'm around. She'll also stop frequently to glance at the nearest door. In general she does eat when I'm at home but then again there's only one bedroom in the apartment so it isn't huge. It takes a bit of encouragement and coaxing but she eventually finishes the portions I lay out. Right now, her feeding area is out in the open so I might try moving it into the kitchen which is more of a confined space. Thanks again for the detailed reply. Keep the suggestions coming!

badger
May 26th, 2008, 10:22 AM
Bird (now Big Bird :)) has to be encouraged to eat as well. I put the plate down and he waits, even looks away. I reckon he was teased with food, made to wait for a command, so he still does it. Kind of sad. No question his early life was horrific, he was so thin and sick when I found him, it was a miracle he found his way to my door.
The first time he asked for food, I almost cried.