Does your cat begin to meow as soon as you set foot in the kitchen or is it unstoppable as soon as you open your fridge? A cat that begs or has a constant focus on food can be very annoying. Here are five tips for getting rid of begging in your cat.
1. Be consistent
When a cat exhibits begging behaviour, this is usually caused by the owner or care-taker – confronting as this may be. Once given some of your food while you were eating, it will remember this forever and try to persuade you to do it again every time you grab a bite to eat. The only way to get rid of this behaviour is to be consistent and refuse giving it food whenever you get some for yourself. In addition, it can help to feed your cat at fixed times.
2. Allow your cat to get used to something
If your cat needs to diet, or when you want to switch to different food, make sure to do it gradually. Going from daily treats to no treats at all is something your cat will not understand. It should come as no surprise that this will cause your cat to start begging. And switching from feeding your cat whenever it wants to eat, to sticking to a fixed schedule, is another inexplicable change to your cat. So, make sure you take a gradual approach.
3. Provide a challenge
A complaining cat isn’t necessarily a sign of begging for food; it may be a cry for attention. Make sure you give your cat attention by playing and cuddling with it regularly, in addition to giving it food. It may help to challenge it while feeding – with a food ball or a food puzzle. This requires your cat to actively find its treat. Challenging and healthy!
4. Use quality food
Cats appreciate quality – they prefer a little less good food than a lot of low-quality food. This is also why some cats can be so picky. Make sure you choose feed that contains a healthy ratio of nutrients. This will prevent your cat from going hungry again too quickly and it won’t be as tempted to beg for an extra treat or more kibble.
5. Startle your cat
When your cat is begging or displaying other undesirable behaviour – such as jumping onto the counter or table when you’ve got food out – getting angry is a natural response. However, it is not a solution! Your cat will get anxious, experience stress and your relationship may suffer. It is better to reward your cat when it displays desirable behaviour. Or have it associate undesirable behaviour with something unpleasant. Make sure this unpleasant feeling isn’t linked to you, for example by briefly startling your cat when it is about to jump onto the counter by dropping your keys on the floor. Just make sure it doesn’t see you do it.