Imagine, it’s late at night. You get up half asleep with a sudden urge to nibble something. Fancy! You remember that just the day before you left a dish in the kitchen with leftover ham. You go into the kitchen, turn on the light and… What do you see? Your cat, caught red-handed, hand in the bag (or rather paws in the dish)!
Have you ever caught your cat climbing on the kitchen counter trying to steal an unprotected piece of food, or about to climb on the table to steal food from your plate? If the answer is yes, you are dealing with a cat thief! Don’t panic, we will explain the possible reasons why your cat is stealing food and how to correct this rather inappropriate behavior.
The education of a cat from a very young age is essential to make your pet understand what it can or cannot do and how it should behave and live with its human family. But there are times when animals still learn and adopt behaviors that are undesirable and embarrassing to us. In this article, “My cat steals food – Why and what to do about it? “you’ll find out what factors may have encouraged this behavior in your cat and how to re-educate a cat that steals so that it gives up this bad habit. Are you ready?
Why is my cat stealing the food?
The fact that your cat takes advantage of the slightest oversight to steal a piece of food that you have left unprotected on the kitchen counter, or that it climbs up on the table when you are eating to beg and/or steal food from you is a very annoying situation, but why do cats steal food?
To find the answer to this question, it is necessary to review our pet’s behavior and the habits it has acquired towards us, its guardian(s). Maybe the problem started with us, or maybe not, but what is certain is that it is a behavior that must be stopped and corrected as soon as possible, because it can get worse if we neglect it, or if, for example, the cat unintentionally ingests food that is toxic to its body.
We will now review the possible reasons why a cat steals food!
The cat doesn’t like its food
One of the main reasons cats steal food is because they don’t like their food, i.e. the food or wet food they have is not to their liking or does not completely satisfy them, so they steal food where and when they can.
Remember that cats are strictly carnivorous animals, so it is recommended that they are fed food containing mainly meat and not mixed with other food products such as refined flours, cereals, etc. If you think that the food you are giving your cat is not the most appropriate and you notice that he does not like it because he leaves it and/or does not eat it well, the best thing to do is to change brands, buy better quality food and try it until you get the best food for your cat, or even better, you can try to make your homemade cat food!
Your cat may also enjoy the most food you give her, but she may not eat it because it is too soft. After all, it sits all day in her food tray. Cats are very sybaritic animals and will not eat everything you feed them if it is not to their liking. In this case, the solution is therefore very simple: just serve him the amount of food he needs (according to his age and weight), once he has eaten, take it away. This way, there will be no food left out in the open and it will not soften.
In the same way, we could also think that our cat is not eating his food, not because it is softened or because we have not found his perfect food, but because he likes the food from our plate on the table better. But the truth is that this is not the case. There is nothing that cats like more than food that is specially designed for them!
The cat has a bad habit
If you’ve already found the best food, dry or wet, for your cat and still steal food, it’s possible that the problem goes deeper and is a bad habit that has developed over time.
It’s possible that at some point in her life, our kitten may have climbed up on the table while we were eating and been given a small piece of the steak or tuna we were eating. At that moment, the bad habit started to get stronger, as the cat understood that it was normal to eat the food from our plate and even more so if we offered it to her. If this situation has been repeated more than once in time, it is very logical that the cat steals the food in the kitchen or on the table even if we are not sitting or present, because for him it is a learned behavior.
The solution to ending a bad habit is to create a new one, that’s why we will explain in the next section how to correct a cat thief.
How do you correct a cat that flies?
The truth is that it’s not easy to teach an animal a new habit, let alone a cat because we all know how special they are. So the ideal is always to educate them from an early age, because the sooner they learn, the better, and also to have a lot of patience with them. But if your cat is an adult and steals food, don’t worry, there is still hope!
First of all, we must be aware and help him to eradicate this bad habit by avoiding leaving food unprotected on the table or in the kitchen (even if it is leftovers) and also by not offering him any kind of food with our hands while we eat.
Likewise, if for some reason we are not attentive and we see that the cat sneaks in to steal food that we have forgotten to keep or that it climbs to the table with this intention, what we must do is to tell it “NO” firmly and serenely, and keep it away from that place by taking it in our arms and not letting it in until there is food available so that the cat will gradually understand that it cannot behave like this.
Another way to make the cat who steals understand that he cannot continue like this is to reinforce his behavior when he eats his own food in his corner. Once he has finished eating, and not before (because it is better not to interrupt him when he does something positive), he can be rewarded for this good behavior by stroking him, playing with him or giving him cat treats. It is obvious that the food we give him must be healthy and as appetizing as possible for our animal, so the chances of him stealing food will be less and less.
We can also wet him lightly, and above all without violence, with a water spray every time he intends to steal food. The water jets are something that usually bothers cats a lot and if every time they want to steal food we spray them with a good jet of water, little by little the cat will understand by instinct that he must not go near the food that is not his.