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Have you noticed your cat will only eat while you’re by her side? She may want food placed in a specific spot or love to be petted while eating. Of course, it’s cute that your cat loves having you near, but it may pose a problem in the future if you’re unavailable at mealtime.
What does it mean when your cat eats only when you’re near? We break down the cause of this behavior in this comprehensive guide.
What Is Cat Affection Eating?
According to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), kitties who prefer eating with their human companion are called “affection eaters.” Affection feeding takes many forms. Your cat may want you to sit with them while they eat. They may require additional encouragement to eat, whether it be the food being brought to them or being hand fed their kibble. Some affection eaters enjoy being petted while eating.
4 Reasons Why Does My Cat Want Me To Watch While She Eats?
There are various reasons why your kitty has become an affection eater. Behavior problems often stem from unmet emotional needs. By paying particular attention to your kitty’s needs, you’ll be able to create a positive emotional climate to benefit your cat’s overall health.
Out Of Habit
Like other animals, cats tend to develop habits that are hard to break. Your cat may enjoy being watched because she was fed and watched as a kitten. When little, mama cats or pet parents need to feed their kittens to ensure they eat around the clock. If your cat developed a routine of being looked after during feeding, she may abandon her bowl if you’re not there.
Just like humans, some cats simply don’t like eating alone. Your cat may not want to miss out on fun activities one room over and would choose not to eat instead of worrying about what you’re doing. You’ll often see this with multi-cat households. If one cat leaves the food bowl, the other may follow for fear that their sibling is having fun or being cuddled without them.
Cats love being loved. You might have a cat that follows you everywhere you go, and they want you to do the same. Many felines enjoy being petted while eating and love the extra affection while eating their meal.
Safety & Security
In the wild, cats are both predators and prey. When a cat is on the hunt or eating, they may miss an oncoming threat. Think of yourself as your cat’s guard, protecting her from an attacker.
Social feeding may also indicate that your cat is stressed or anxious. When a feline is stressed, they want you around to help them feel more comfortable. Cats are highly-sensitive creatures. Like humans, significant life events and even small changes can be stressful for your cat. Your cat may develop a behavioral problem soon after an upsetting change in the household, usually involving a loss of attention, a relationship, or territory.
Major stressors for cats include:
- Death in family
- New baby
- New home
- Home renovation
- Natural disasters
- House fires
Causes of stress that owners might often overlook include:
- Dirty litter box
- Change in litter
- Change in food
- Food and litter in too close a proximity
- Litter box in a loud location
- Food bowl in a loud location
- Change in your work schedule
- Rearranging your home
- New carpet
- Another pet
- Another cat in your yard
- Loud noises
- Rough handling
Keep in mind that cats are highly perceptive. Our cats can often tell our mood, which is then reflected in their actions and feelings. A stressed pet owner can lead to a stressed cat. If unable to remove the stressor from your cat’s life, explore other options for relieving your cat’s anxiety. These can include regular exercise, quality time, and medications to relieve stress.
How Can I Help My Cat Feel Comfortable Eating Alone?
Being available for every meal isn’t practical. Life gets busy with work, vacations, and everything in between. Taking steps to make your cat at ease during mealtime will ensure she eats when you are away. Try these tips to help your kitty adjust to eating alone:
- If your cat is new to your home, create a safe space that allows your cat a small, quiet room of their own. Put everything your cat will need in this room: food, water, toys, bedding, and a litter box. Visit your kitty regularly and allow your cat to get comfortable on their own time.
- Keep a daily feeding schedule, so your cat knows when to expect food. Monitor how much food your cat eats to ensure they are getting enough calories.
- Elevate your cat’s bowl, which allows your cat a better view of the room. A raised bowl may give your cat a better sense of security.
- Place multiple food bowls around the home, giving your cat the option to choose where her meal will take place. Finding the right location for the food bowl is critical for your cat’s comfort. Usually, cats like their food and water in quiet parts of the home.
- You may also skip the food dish and try an interactive feeder that will encourage your cat to eat without you.
- Implement more playtime during the day to help relieve your cat’s stress. Just like with humans, exercise is a powerful stress reducer and can help your cat feel less anxious when left alone.
- Add additional enrichment to your cat’s environment to help her feel more comfortable. Provide scratching posts, cat shelves, and toys to keep your cat busy throughout the day.
Cats form strong bonds with the people they rely on for food, water, shelter, affection, and safety. They are adept at tuning in to our emotional cues, whether in the tone of voice, posture, or facial expressions. As a result, our feelings can cause stress to our animal companions. For this reason, it’s critical to take a calm and positive approach when caring for your pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Bad To Let My Cat Affection Eat?
If your cat is happy and healthy in all other respects, there’s nothing inherently wrong with your cat wanting a companion while she eats. Keep in mind that this will limit the flexibility of your schedule in the long run, but if you want to have your feline’s back while she eats, that’s completely fine.
What If My Cat Has An Appetite Problem?
If you notice your cat’s appetite has changed after monitoring their eating, contact your vet. A change in normal appetite is often a symptom of an underlying illness. Your vet will ask questions and run tests to see if there is an underlying health concern.
What Supplements Can Relieve My Cat’s Anxiety?
There are a variety of natural remedies that can support your furry friend during times of stress, including:
- The amino acid l-theanine relaxes cats and can be found in various stress formulas targeted at cats.
- Herbs like valerian and catnip can give your cat a euphoric sensation, helping to relieve stress and anxiety.
- CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical extracted from hemp that may relieve your cat’s anxiety around mealtime. Always purchase a THC-free formula, as this chemical is toxic to cats.
- Try flower essences like chicory to support an overly attached or possessive cat, rock rose for relief from panic attacks, or star of Bethlehem to ease the effects of trauma. You can also find formulas that combine certain flower essences for overall stress and tension relief for pets.
It’s not always easy to communicate with your cat. Familiarizing yourself with your cat’s language will unlock the mystery behind many behavioral problems and create a more comfortable environment. If you’re now curious about cat quirks, check out our articles on cats sitting like humans, obsessive kneading, fake limping, and rubbing against everything.