My Cat Won't Eat Alone

If your cat eats only when you're around, you've given in to kitty training. Here's how to break the pattern.

By Julie Mignery | Posted: July 1, 2015, 7 a.m. EST

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Why won’t my cat eat unless I stand over him?
Diane Nelson

It sounds like your cat, much like mine, is spoiled. I’d say the reason he does this is because he likes your company and not eating is a good way to make sure you stick around. If your preferred eating  times and locations coincide with his, you may not need to anything about this habit; you can just enjoy your time together.

Here are 3 steps to take if you want your cat to eat independently:
•    Continue joining your cat for part of his meal but not all of it. Put down his food and stand over him as usual, but walk away before he’s finished. If he complains or abandons his food — and I’m guessing he will — rejoin him.
•    Slowly pull back, extending the time you’re away from him. Leave your cat alone to ignore his food for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, et cetera. He might not like it, but it won’t hurt him to temporarily have an irregular eating schedule, unless he has a medical condition that requires one. Most cats will eventually eat when they’re hungry. If your cat goes on a hunger strike and won’t quit if you don’t give in to his demands, your vet should be able to offer some alternative suggestions.
•    Work on bonding with your cat during non-mealtimes. Plan regular brushing and play sessions. Cuddle while you read or watch TV. If you’re hanging out in different rooms, pop in periodically to say hello and subject him to a round of petting.
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Reader Comments

Ilse Devriese    International

7/1/2015 1:33:07 PM

Love these suggestions, especially the walking away during meal time and adding on a nice little owner and kitty ritual away from the food. A cat has to eat within 2 days, but as long as they get some food in them, they should be good, so you can definitely experiment with this.

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