Cat stealing food - hungry or just greedy?

(45 Posts)
HufftheHedgehog Tue 27-Nov-12 11:57:19

We got a 2 year old cat from a rescue centre almost 2 weeks ago, and she seems to be settling in ok.

However last night she jumped up onto the kitchen top and ate 2 danish pastries! (And has been jumping up on other occasions and nosing about for food.) I was cross with her for doing that, and worried that she would be sick (no ill effects so far), but I'm concerned that perhaps I'm not feeding her enough...

The rescue centre said she had two meals a day, a combination of wet and dry, so we did that the first few days to fit in with what she was used to. The pouches we're feeding her say 2 - 3 pouches a day, so we're now giving her a pouch at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a little bit of dry food in between. Does that sound enough?

cozietoesie Tue 27-Nov-12 12:41:32

Presumably the rescue centre brought her weight up to normal and checked her out medically? Their advice to you on food quantity would reflect her current condition I would have thought.

It sounds to me as if she's maybe had a rough time for a while and is just stocking up on any 'target of opportunity' in case bad times are ahead. (A cat eating Danish pastries is bizarre.)

What you're giving her sounds fine depending on her current weight and activity levels. You need to stop her going up on kitchen surfaces right away though and keep them clear so that there are no temptations to override your firm NOs. As I said, if she's got issues with food (after a long period of semi-starvation, say) then you'll just have to be firm and consistent. She should ease off when she gets used to being fed regularly and starts to trust that it will always be so. You've only had her for 2 weeks after all and if she's had a rough time in the past, she'll need some understanding and routine before she fully relaxes.


mrsnec Tue 27-Nov-12 12:41:52

Hi our nearly 3 year old tabby still does this. She lept on our dinner table and had her paw in the mayonaise jar last night! We also have the same problem with her always being hungry. She was a rescue cat in a way too. We bought our house as a half finished rennovation project and found her as a kitten curled up in the workshop in a pile of dust sheets. We were told her eating habits now are a throwback to that. Having to fend for herself when she was young. Our vet told us recently only 1 sachet per day plus dry food. That's impossible! We give her 2 per day and dry food. We give her ocassional treats and table scraps but we are worried about her weight at 4.7 kg vet says she's just about ok so careful not to overfeed and keep her active. Just trying to be firm with her when she's naughty! Also I read that if a cat has a lot of feral type markings like rings on their tail as ours does it means closer genetic links to wild ancestors I wouldn't worry.

cozietoesie Tue 27-Nov-12 12:43:46

Blimey. Any cat of mine that thought to leap on the dinner table in my presence would only do it once!


BobblyGussets Tue 27-Nov-12 12:50:13

This is interesting mrsnec: our rescue at has a big stripe/ridge down his back, rings around his tail and the stripes on his head and legs. He is obsessed with running water, so I looked up some info on fishing cats and he has alot of similar markings.

Our rescue cat has been with us for 3 months now and is a dreadful theif. I just keep all the stuff covered up as often as I remember. He chased a breaded mushroom that pinged off DS2's plate and ate that, he has shredded the cling film on a roast dinner and eaten the meat from it and if I am not careful, I will ofter find little tongue marks in the butter grin.

Our puss is about 9 months old and has 2 pouches with dry food. He is always up on the surfaces, but I am just glad he is so sure of his place in our home and he is a lovely affectionate boy.

I have a horrific scrounger too, but he can't blame his upbringing as he was home raised and has always had food! He is used to having biscuits always down, with 2 meals of wet food a day but for some reason decided he wouldn't touch biscuits and had to be fed wet food on demand (dream on pusser!!)

I've since switched the dogs to raw food and as he was raiding their bowls, put him on it too, and his appetite is much better. He typically has a chicken wing for breakfast and then some sort of minced meat for dinner (and lunch if he's REALLY insistant) which I add a sprinkle of brewers yeast and taurine powder too. Its not the sort of diet you can just start - research is very much a must, but for us its worked smile is one of the sites I started on.

Our cat is from a rescue centre and she is a greedy pig. She eats everything in her bowl the second it is put in there, and my neighbour has told me she has caught her in her house, eating her cat's food.

She will also eat sweet things if she gets a chance - I have caught her licking milk out of cereal bowls, yoghurt, and once she licked a glass clean of baileys shock

She's slightly overweight and the vet has told us not to increase her food.

HufftheHedgehog Tue 27-Nov-12 13:09:58

Thanks for the replies - it sounds like I'm feeding her the correct amount then.

cozietoesie yes I'd wondered if she was worried about when she'd next be fed and that was why she was on the lookout for more!

She might be a bit bored too - she's been confined to the house so perhaps once she get's out she'll not be patrolling the kitchen so much grin

But another question - how do I keep her off the kitchen tops/table? I've just been saying 'No' in a loud voice and pointing at the floor, but I'm not really sure that it's having much effect confused

Elvie81 Tue 27-Nov-12 13:35:01

Whether your cat is greedy or hungry depends on her character. smile

There are cats which are like food dispenser, which will eat anything they will find and there are those nice angels, which eat just what is given to them.

I am pretty sure, that your cat is one of those "seek and eat" types of cats so I wouldn't worry. smile However if you would like to know more about cat nutrition, there's this ebook I found a while back. It's pretty useful and you can also get it for free here:

I normally raise my voice and clap my hands and she runs off. After 18 months she has just about worked out not to do it when I'm looking, but the muddy pawprints suggest it is a different matter when I am out.

I just try not to leave any dirty plates which might tempt her, and wipe the surfaces before I cook!

mrsnec Tue 27-Nov-12 13:37:12

OP they sound adoreable! It's very strange with ours and her habits. We thought we'd cracked it before last night she hadn't done the table thing in ages! I'm not sure if its a boredom thing. Ours is an outdoor cat and we live in a very rural area and she has toys and scratching posts everywhere. She often brings us presents and I worried that was a sign she was hungry I think it's just the way they are and what makes them such interesting animals! Can't keep her off our worktops either except she's not brilliant at being handled so if a firm NO doesn't work if I have to keep picking her up and moving her she gets the message!

Yoghurty Tue 27-Nov-12 13:41:00

I had 2 rescue cats who were food thieves- I remember one running off with the battered skin from a chip shop cod whilst the other picked off chips from the plate! They were feral for the first 4 months of their lives and never seemed to grow out of the eat-to-survive. Both happy and healthy thou.

If you find a way to keep cats off work surfaces, please let me know! My tortie is wilful, and 8 years on still jumps up when I'm not looking!

cozietoesie Tue 27-Nov-12 13:51:46

I can only suggest, Huff, that you say the firm NO and haul her off bodily, depositing on the floor. You've really got to mean that NO though - saying NO in a 'Who's a naughty girl, then?' wink voice ain't going to work. An alternative to pointing once you've done the first haul-off is to say NO and clap your hands loudly.

And keep a weather eye open for the intent. Cats are perfectly capable of understanding a remonstration for a 'bad thought' so if you see her sitting beneath a counter etc starting to shimmy her backside - or looking up and sniffing - say the NO then before she does it. It will work just as well.

I don't have many house rules for the cats but I'm real firm on those there are. The No Surfaces rule is not really due to food (that's a side benefit) but because kitchens are so dangerous if animals or children have unfettered access to all points. Pots of simmering liquid, sharp things, glass ....... In my previous two houses I had electric stoves and I was always intensely aware of the potential for leaving the room and coming back in to find that a cat had leapt up on one and was left with fried paw pads.

What's interesting is that they seem to extend that rule in their own minds to other possibly sensitive surfaces outwith the kitchen. I've not extended it myself but they seem to avoid certain things as if there was a common factor - I just haven't worked out what it is.

One thing I'll suggest if she's insecure - and I reckon she is - is to maintain as far as you can a rigid eating structure. For all their independence and wilfulness, cats seem in my experience to appreciate having a routine. So - food at the same time during the day, in the same place, in the same sort of bowls and with the same 'Food Calling Cry' if you haven't already got one.

Best of luck


issey6cats Tue 27-Nov-12 13:53:00

my 2 year old half siamese was born to a feral mom, taken off his mom (they trapped neutered and released mom as she was very feral) by the lady who brought him to the rescue i got him from at six weeks old, and i adopted him at 7 months old, and i have never owned such a greedy, food orientated cat in all my life, he will eat anything edible if he gets chance to steal something, when i am eating he will try to swipe the food off my plate or fork, he does get pushed off the sofa so dosent get the food, but he is very persistant, he gets 1/4 of a tin of butchers cat food and a big bowl of biscuits every day and wheighs 4.5 kgs so he gets enough grub i think hes just remembering been a feral baby as he dosent talk at all which i think goes back to having to be quiet in the wild for the first few weeks

tabulahrasa Tue 27-Nov-12 14:20:26

My Siamese is a terrible thief, she's no reason to be - she's been a pampered pet since she was born.

She loves cake, but she'll go after anything, bread, butter, crisps, she'll try to get in the dishwasher to lick the plates and remains hopeful even after 10 years that I'll share my dinner with her - and anyone new eating in the house has to be told to watch for the cat stealing food out of their hands.

I've always chased her off worktops, I've even sprayed water at her (and she really hates water) all I've succeeded in doing is making sure that she won't do it while I'm in reach, she'll still do it in full sight of me if she thinks she can get whatever it is she's after before I get to her...

I'm fairly sure she encourages my little timid tabby up there as well because she suddenly started doing it at about a year old even though she seems terrified of being caught, lol

cozietoesie Tue 27-Nov-12 14:22:36

I'd be tempted to ask who is actually in charge in your household, tabulah - except that that would be a daft question. wink

I must have had an exceptionally well behaved bunch of Siamese!

cozietoesie Tue 27-Nov-12 14:24:18

Although when I come to think of it, even The Lodger started obeying the rules real quick when he moved in. And he mainly brought himself up on the streets.

tabulahrasa Tue 27-Nov-12 14:32:46

Oh I'm under no illusions about who's in charge - I'm not letting her know she's won though, lol.

She's a complete pain when it comes to food - obviously I don't just let her steal from visitors, but because she's so friendly people are really bad for letting her sit next to/on them when they're eating no matter how often I move her and are then really shocked when their hand reaches their mouth with a cat attached to it....

She is lovely in most other ways though.

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 27-Nov-12 15:56:29

One of our rescues was a scrounger, we had another from a kitten who was the same though.

Ours goes on the worktop, no amount of telling off works. I don't think he cares tbh.

ZebraOwl Tue 27-Nov-12 21:36:40

Have read this with interest as the Zebra Kittens - well, blonde!kitten, mostly - have started trying to nab human!food.

They seem genuinely confused as to what can possibly have upset us though: they know I am cross, they know I am saying no, they know an attempt to swipe food from my bowl/plate will result in their ejection from the room whilst I eat. Blonde!kitten keeps doing it, though. Black!kitten might attempt a quick snifflet at what I am eating, but no more. (They are both crazy about breakfast cereal though. I came downstairs one morning to discover a scene of devastation in the dining room where they had slaughtered the entire massed collection of cereal & porridge.) Their food has to be kept shut away from them completely now too: they'd [try to] break into packets & it is not unknown for them to empty out the kitchen bin to be sure there's not anything in there for them. They think my bedroom bins are cornucopiae of delight, too.

Blonde!kitten is also prone to accidental!clawing & has no idea what it is that has provoked the strange sound from me much less why I have stopped him from snuggling with me.

Neither of them recognise hissing as a deterrent. Blonde!kitten gives away having something he shouldn't by growling & humping about the place with it.

The only time they know clapping means "no!" is if they're getting too rough with each other: they jump apart & look terribly guilty. Blonde!kitten will also come down off the curtain he has just leapt up & attempt to pretend I had obviously been seeing things.

Pair of them are awful about kitchen surfaces. They had to be kept in the kitchen when Home Alone for quite a while & their greatest delight is tap-dancing across the worktops. No food gets left out or anything, but they love looking out of the window, which is only reachable via worktops. Suspect part of problem may be I remove them instantly with a firm "no!" while my b[r]other lets them bop about until they venture near the stove at which point he gets all flaily & they (understandably) get confused. sigh

Suspect they were both massively influenced by their life before coming to life chez Zebra: food appeared at completely random intervals & had to be fought over & Mummy Cat (probably resigned to losing her umpteenth litter of kittens) didn't teach them all she could have. (Though some of the toileting issues might be down to them learning in Less Than Ideal conditions, too...)

It does sound as though she's in Mad Scavenge Mode, prolly brought on by the change in circs. If she's lived with humans before & not had the best time of things she might not be too confident she'll REALLY keep getting fed etc. Hope she settles down soon. And that your cakes will be safe in future...

Corygal Tue 27-Nov-12 22:36:54

I love cats thieving, it's desperately sweet. She's just grabbing a 'nutritional opportunity' as Proctor and Gamble put it on their website.

It might wear off, it might not.

mrsnec Wed 28-Nov-12 06:39:42

I love reading everyone elses experience of this. I sometimes wonder if I've made her worse on the kitchen front. She's always round my feet when I'm cooking which means I end up falling over her and then have to give her treats to apologise. Maybe she thinks she's doing me a favour being on the worktop being out of my way! I often have to shut her out of the room when we're entertaining. She plays up when we have visitors and it's their food she targets! Quite large items too! Pork chops on a couple of occassions. Hate shutting her out though she's part of the family and shouldn't be excluded. It's strange she still has this instinct but is fine on the toilet training front! And I'm glad she hasn't got that bin habit! Interesting what was said earlier about routines and associations with sounds too. Ours goes mad and thinks it's dinner time when she hears the ice dispenser on the fridge as it's the first thing DH does when he comes in from work!

cozietoesie Wed 28-Nov-12 07:56:01

Be much firmer, mrsnec eg giving her treats for winding around your feet is rewarding bad behaviour and setting up a pattern. (Which may be too late to change but Hey....) I'd go for a very strict routine. She shouldn't mind it.


mrsnec Wed 28-Nov-12 08:03:05

Thanks Cozie. Worth a try and will save pennies too! Temptations are pricey here!

ZebraOwl Thu 29-Nov-12 00:22:58

It does feel horrible to shut them out, doesn't it sad Blonde!kitten meows pitifully for me until allowed back in. (Which isn't [just] about the food, it's the same meow he does if he thinks I've been in the bathroom too long or if I am Ill-Ill & can't play.)

Good grief, yes, be grateful your bins are not considered interesting. I very much hope that lasts!

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 29-Nov-12 16:14:10

If they miaow between meals and lead you to the food cupboard does that mean they want you to fuss the pouches too? like children wanting teddy to have a goodnight kiss too? grin

One of Dhs childhood cats dragged a christmas turkey out of a window and ran off with it. That's torties for you wink

cozietoesie Thu 29-Nov-12 16:51:22

I recall (re my first Siamese boy) that we went south after Xmas leaving my uncle in charge of the house. (He lodged with us.)

He moaned to my Dad that we hadn't even left the remains of the turkey for him.

Upon which, my mother remonstrated loudly that it was left in foil on the worktop.

Upon thereafter - we noted that Uncle had been left with firstcosieboy. Little thief that he was.

He had the whole ruddy turkey remains (and that was a lot of remains) hauled off to his secret store in between the built in seats in the kitchen.

We found the bones later.

cozietoesie Thu 29-Nov-12 16:56:13

I was only 10 years old so wasn't seasoned in the ways of Siamese or cats generally.

PlaySchool Thu 29-Nov-12 19:03:51

My rescue cat is obsessed with food. She even ate some cauliflower the other day and I go through a ridiculous amount of cat food. I've got to be careful because she will end up overweight if I don't control her intake. I wondered if it went back to her being hungry and abandoned but I think the RSPCA got her quite young.

SecretNutellaFix Thu 29-Nov-12 19:22:02

My two aren't rescue kittens at all. Dreadful bloody thieves when given half a chance.

I have found myself actually fighting a cat over a crisp. How ridiculous is that? My DH put a packet on his chair and came back in to discover the other cat with his head stuck in it.

cozietoesie Thu 29-Nov-12 19:39:04

Well there's your problem. I'd have simply yelled 'Whooahha!' and the miscreant would have run for the hills. Said miscreant being a kitten of course - no adult cat of mine would be so bold and naughty.

You have to be tough minded. They're tough minded by nature so you have to see them on it by design. They won't love you any the less for it by the way. Cats seem to blame setbacks in their lives on factors other than their special people.

mrsnec Thu 29-Nov-12 20:14:24

I often spoil mine as she's the first ever cat I've had. I wasn't a cat person until I met her! I just loved the idea of having a pet who chose us and I worry if we upset her she'll mooch off and find another home. Very silly of me. Had a word with myself today when I found myself picking the yellow ones out of the biscuits for her to save her the trouble and distract her from our fish pie! Anyway our vet told us we may have estimated her age wrongly when DH found her. Thus she weaned too early. I wonder if that was part of the problem with the greed thing too?

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 29-Nov-12 20:24:56

I got told off for offering my cat a chew to take his mind off treatment as there high in fat.

So are chocolate bars but we all have one now and again dont we? it's not like we live on them though.

cozietoesie Thu 29-Nov-12 20:40:18

You're soft , Fluffy. Soft!


Fluffycloudland77 Thu 29-Nov-12 20:52:58


Persuasion Thu 29-Nov-12 21:06:52

My rescue cat was also greedy but has got more chilled with strict routine. If you've only had them for 2weeks though do consider worms. Ours was apparently wormed but had horrible worms in the first few weeks.

cozietoesie Thu 29-Nov-12 21:14:26

Routine is good. They surely appreciate it.

BobblyGussets Thu 29-Nov-12 22:12:06

I did just give my cat a treat because he used the cat flat all by himself without me holding it open for him grin. I am so pleased and proud. The next step is getting rid of that litter tray or at least getting the damn thing out into the garden.

cozietoesie Fri 30-Nov-12 05:57:09

Bobbly - you have to get over the treat business. He would have used the cat flap by himself just because he wanted to. Don't be a wuss!

Persuasion Fri 30-Nov-12 06:43:35

I'm very much with cozie on this one! We're quite strict with him, but he adores us anyway (maybe because), and he knows where the boundaries are. Treats are very limited because he has urinary crystals, he didn't seem to mind when this policy was implemented!

Polyethyl Fri 30-Nov-12 06:49:34

My pampered Siamese enjoy stealing food because it is a battle of wits. Cats v. Humans. We humans generally lose.

PlaySchool Fri 30-Nov-12 10:59:04

I can't be strict with my cats. The naughtiness is all part of the fun of having them wink

BobblyGussets Fri 30-Nov-12 13:48:46

I am enjoying being a wuss Cosie. I managed to persuade DH to let me have a rescue cat for my 40th birthday. I always wanted a cat and he is my first, so I am spoiling him. It's pussy heaven around here.
Do you think he will keep using the cat flap? I've only seen him do it once.

mrsnec Fri 30-Nov-12 16:54:35

Cat flap training established very easily here. But it had to be! We live in a bungalow and it's on our bedroom door! She got the hang of it very quickly without needing bribes we just physicly put her though and used her favourite toy on a bit of string threaded through a few times. Definately agree with all that's being said here routine is good treats are good in moderation as is a little bit of naughtyness!

Sabriel Fri 30-Nov-12 21:17:12

We moved 2 years ago. In our last house the cats would try to sneak into the bedrooms. In this house they steal food. I find the older one (13 yo neutered male) on the work surfaces all the time, or climbing up on DD's table. No amount of shouting works, even though we throw him outside every time we catch him.

No excuses either, he was born to us and lived with his mother until she died last year. Never been in a situation where he's had no food, and fed at the same time morning and night every day.

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