Does your cat whine for food? Is cat whining just an attention-seeking cat behavior or is your cat trying to tell you that is hungry? Why do all cats whining for food? It is probably familiar to most cat owners. They are whining, asking for attention and meowing continuously. With my cats, it is striking that they often ask for food at set times. As if they know it’s almost time for a cat treat or a supper. Even when they have just finished their breakfast, they run down to see if there is more breakfast there. Also, when I eat yogurt, the cats pay close attention to that.
Meowing is an efficient communication tool. Your cat doesn’t use a dinner bell, but many cats or dogs in the house getting reminded that it’s mealtime by the insistent meowing of a cat. A cat uses the voice to connect with you, and scientists have found that the mealtime cry is separating from cries in other contexts: It is more annoying than a typical happy purr and harder to ignore. For many cats, meowing at meals is natural.
Whining for food by cats is considered quite irritating by most people. Relaxing on the couch eating your ham sandwich can be a real challenge with whining cats. Just like walking to the kitchen without breaking your neck about a cat that is walking in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why do cats whining about food so much? Moreover, can you change this behavior? There are also exercises where you can teach your cat to whine less for food to eat and wait quietly. You can read all about it in this post.
Why do cats whining for food?
There are only three reasons why cats are whining or beg for food.
Reason 1: serious hunger
- Hunger can come by dieting too quickly. That may seem strange, but in many countries, too fat cats are on a diet. If you try to make your cat lose weight by feeding very little, your cat will be hungry.
- Due to medical conditions with a higher energy requirement. There are diseases where a lot of energy are losing. Examples of this are diabetes or a thyroid gland that works too quickly. These cats often eat a lot but lose weight.
- A higher energy requirement for different reasons. Think of being pregnant, taking care of the kittens, but stress can also cost much energy in some cases.
Reason 2: your cat has learned the behavior from you
You probably know this situation. You sit on the couch eating something tasty, and your cat comes to sit next to you. Your cat looks at you with very pathetic eyes as if it never gets anything to eat. To appear even more pathetic, your cat lays a paw on your hand or arm. Or crazy sounds are added. This is such a moment why you think: all right attention grabber, I’ll give you a small piece of sausage. Hoping your cat will stop attracting attention.
Exactly at the moment that you think you are doing your cat a favor, you have taught your cat something. Namely, by watching sadly or playing other theater games, your cat will get something tasty. From that moment you have to share your snacks. Whether you like it or not. Have you ever decided not to share? Then your cat can put a little extra. I repeat: from now on you will share your snacks.
Well, the above is a bit of an enlargement of how cats learn to get their way, but basically, we started it (unintentionally and unknowingly) with it. Another example is that you feed your cat immediately after opening the fridge. Your cat learns: “When the fridge opens, I get food.” Every time you walk towards the fridge, your cat is already walking around you. When you admit when your cat begs, looks sweet or aggressively takes your food from your plate, then your cat knows for the next time: “Great, this works! Next time again! ”.
Reason 3: forgetful cats
Cats with dementia can whine endlessly for food, even when the food bowl is filled and your cat can smell the food. Dementia can change the behavior of your cat. You may notice changes in the behavior to disorientation, memory loss, or other things that can lead to confusion. It is also possible that it are signs of illness and medical issues. It is the best to visit a vet to rule out what is happening.
Cats whining for food by pressing the bell
In this video you see two cats pressing a bell. These cats have learned that they get a cat candy when they press the bell. Like if they are calling a waiter. Very funny to see.
What should you do if your cat whines for food?
There can be various reasons for the cat to whining. It is important that you first rule out that your cat does not have a serious form of hunger. Certainly, when your cat (unintentionally) seems to lose weight, it is very important first to visit your veterinarian and find out any medical causes and treat this. Give your cat enough love in any case, even though it is whining for food every time. Due to dementia, your cat forgets the eating moments.
In the case of the learned whining routines, it is important to completely ignore the behavior, to be very consistent, and above all, keep going. One cat learns faster than the other. Most cats that used to get their way will now hold on longer but eventually (if you go on long enough) even the most difficult learning cat will give up.
Note: even (long) after your cat has stopped whining for food, it can sometimes happen that your cat suddenly starts trying to whine again and get its way. Even then: don’t give up, hold on!
Yes, but my cat’s food is in the fridge!
As long as you give the food immediately after it comes out of the fridge, your cat will put that link with I get food. Try to put the food bowl down, or take the food out of the fridge, when your cat is sleeping on the couch, walking outside or in a completely different room. In any case, you do not give the food when your cat runs with you to the kitchen.
Yes but I give something very occasionally, that should be possible?
If you continue to reward your cat for whining behavior, then your cat will continue. Your cat thinks that it is allowed. A cat sees no difference between sometimes yes and sometimes no. So if you want to unlearn it, say no every time.
Yes, but during the meal the cat just jumps on the table!
If you have a cat that does not give up and comes with all sorts of tricks to eating from your food, you can see if it is an option to give your cat the feed at the same time as you (of course not on the table). If your cat keeps trying to eat your meal despite his meal, you can place the cat in another room while you eat until you are ready. It is probably only needed a few times.
Teach your cat to sit
To reduce the crying, you will need to succeed that behavior with another, more acceptable behavior. Although many cat owners don’t know it, cats are fast learners when they are motivated, and the food is a good motivator. You can reduce meowing at mealtime by teaching your cat to sit and by rewarding it with treats when your cat does that quietly.
To teach your cat to sit, use a lure, for instance, a spoon with a soft treat such as tuna fish or canned cat food. Raise the spoon above your cat’s nose while it is standing on all four paws and slowly lift it slightly above the head. As the bottom starts to tuck underneath the body, reward your cat with a verbal cue, like “good,” or “yes” or you can use a clicker to mark the behavior.
Once your cat is regularly sitting in response to the lure, add a word, such as “sit,” as you start to move the trick back over the head. The intention is to phase out the lure and teach it to respond to the command. If your cat responds to the verbal marker and sits quietly and waits for the command, move the lure from the spoon to the food bowl and reward your cat with the bowl as soon as your cat sits.
If your cat is a good vocalizer, you may need to start easy. Hold a treat in your hand and wait for desirable behavior and a quiet mouth, like orienting toward you or giving eye contact. Mark that behavior with a verbal signal or a click and reward with a treat. Work to build these quiet behaviors from only a couple of seconds to 30 seconds or longer.
My cats and whining for food
Here are a few facts about food and my cats.
- They eat at set times. Sometimes it seems as if the cats have swallowed a clock
- Lots of meowing when the food is taking out of the cupboard
- Much meowing when I want to put the food on the floor
- They have their own place to eat. Both on one side of the food bowl
- The cats eat each other’s food
- I can’t leave the cupboard doors open; my cats will steal the food and open the food bags
- The food from the owners is always more interesting than their food
- A few sweets as a reward or treat is never enough. The cats always wants more
- If the cats whining for food, they can do it for hours. Even if they are ignored
- If they don’t get their way and are ignored, they get angry and walk away
- But after a while they come back to ask for food
Be creative and patient
The way you feed your cat also can help. You can hide some of the food around the house in places your cat frequents. Alternatively, feeding part of the meal in a food puzzle turns the meal into something akin to a real hunt, and it expends both physical and mental energy. On this website you will find some nice ideas about how to make a puzzle cat feeder. These cat feeders are all DIY. It is cheap and easy to build at home.
Your cat will do what works to get what it desires. If you teach your cat that it must be quiet and calm and then your cat gets it what it wants, in this case, dinner your cat will soon learn to meow softly at the mealtime.
A cat uses the voice to connect and the mealtime cry is separating from cries in other contexts. For many cats, meowing at meals is natural. Some cats can meow a lot and whine for food. You can adjust and unlearn this behavior. The wrong behavior is often learned by humans. A cat learns quickly and if you persist your cat knows what is allowed and which behavior is not allowed.
Maybe if you want to know more about cats and meowing you might also like Why Do Cats Meow?
Hopefully, you have learned something about cats and whining for food. Also, when you know someone who likes to know more about Why Do All Cats Whining for Food? Then feel free to share this post. Additionally, at what kind of food does your cat whining the most?