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Cat calls?! We jump!

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Chris tells us: "My cat cries for wet food at 6am and 6pm every day, and won’t stop until she's fed, even though she has a full dish of DRY food always available. Is this just life as a pet owner or can we get our cat to change her ways? Sleep is precious at the moment with our baby son just a year old - is there anything we can do? Don’t know if you can help or whether we all need to fit in with our cat’s schedule!"

Oh dear, Chris, that IS a problem, isn't it. Truth? Your cat seems to have you VERY well-trained, indeed! (Don't be blue - you're not alone.)

Here are some possible causes for your cat's food-begging and vocalisation: under-stimulation (your new baby = less attention for your cat); social conflict (summer is looming, so there are cats all over the place fighting/mating/running up lots of pheromone smells which are disturbing your cat); attention seeking (she demands, you do!); learned behaviour (food served on-call = I'm a good kittykat!).

So what to do? Well, mostly you need to try to eliminate the fact that her food arrives as a result of her behaviour. Here are some ideas:

  1. Try a more palatable dry food. In our cattery we've found Royal Canin to be extremely palatable even for fussy eaters. Dried fish flakes can also be added to your chosen food, or anything else to rev up the taste a bit. Then simply do not give wet food at all, or only when YOU are ready to.
  2. Make your cat work hard for her wet food. For example, stuff it in a Kong toy, mix it in with some dry food, and feed less and less of the wet food over time.
  3. Get a cat feeder with a timer. Food is delivered on a schedule that your cat can predict, you're not part of the process at all, and she gets no reinforcement from you when she cries for food. Your cat's perception that its behaviour is causing you to deliver food can be extinguished over time.
  4. Feed your cat ONLY the instant she STOPS crying. For this you'll have to be well-prepared, with cat bowl and food ready, plonking the food down immediately and BEFORE she can start up her crying again - good luck!

And there are more ideas than this, we're pretty sure, but start with this and see how it goes. What fun!

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