Once a cat has discovered that your food is tastier than hers, she may go to great lengths to convince you to share. Begging is a common feline behavior problem faced by many pet parents. Luckily, breaking a bad habit like begging in cats is challenging but achievable.
Establish Positive Feeding Patterns
Designate the dinner table a permanent cat-free zone. Never allow your cat to get on the dinner table regardless of whether or not there is food on it. Firmly state “no,” while removing her from the dinner table every time your cat jumps on it.
Always feed your cat in her own dish. Never allow your cat to eat food from the table, your plate, or from any dish other than her own.
Only feed cat food to your cat. Moist or dry cat food and cat treats should be the only things in your cat’s diet. Sharing human foods with your cat will not only encourage begging behavior but may also be harmful to your cat.
Feed your cat immediately before your own meal time. Your cat is less likely to beg for your food if she is already full. Also, since cats typically groom or nap after a meal, feeding your cat before you eat will keep her busy while you enjoy your meal.
Ignore your cat’s begging. Even negative attention can reinforce unwanted behaviors in cats. Do not give your cat any verbal or physical attention while she is begging.
Remove leftover food from tables or counters after eating. If your cat stumbles across a tasty treasure, she may become hooked and develop a begging habit. Avoid leaving any human food unattended to prevent accidentally reinforcing unwanted behaviors.
Put your cat in time out. The opportunity to beg may reinforce additional begging. If all else fails and your cat continues to beg for food, put her in a designated room with the door closed while you eat. If your cat cannot physically come to where you are eating, she will not be able to beg.
- Consistency is crucial to any behavior modification program so do not waver once you establish the ground rules and begin withholding reinforcement.
Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.