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Stealing food

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I have had Minerva for 3.5 years and she is approximately 5 years old. My problem is she is a beggar and a thief. Whenever I am preparing or eating food she cries incessantly. She will also steal any unattended food. For instance, she stole my husband’s turkey sandwich this morning. She ripped thru the Ziploc bag and ate part of the sandwich before we caught her. Is there anything I can do to stop this behavior?

A little background, I got Minerva from the streets and she was extremely malnourished. She is now 10 pounds and is a free feeder. There is always dry food available and she gets a half a can of wet food every evening.

Please help, my husband is not very happy with her right now.
post #2 of 6
hi , if she was on the streets for a year or so this could be the reason , some cats that had to fend for themselfs never do grow out of the bad habits , even though she knows food will always be aviable to her , she still has that natural instint to find her own and steal her own. it was the way she survived.theres not much i can tell you to help you with your problem apart from just moving her when she gets near the food , or try a spray bottle with water in it , dont allow her to see you and when she does something you dont want her doing spray her with it but still try and stay out of site , otherwise if she see's you doing it , she will just know not to do it when your in the room and contuine to do it when your no where to be seen. i hope someone else has some advise for you .
and please if im wrong about any of this could you please tell me.
post #3 of 6
We adopted a kitten at the end of the summer who was a stray for the first 2-3 months of his life. He constantly scrounges for food and acts as if every meal we serve him will be his last.

It's most likely just a stray mentality.
post #4 of 6
An immediate solution to her being a pest at mealtime is to put her in another room when you're preparing food or eating. Long-term, you can work on training her to sit quietly while you cook and eat - clicker training is very effective for that - please read this link: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/24 For her, you'd want to click when she's sitting quietly and not crying.

Click here for the thread about my formerly grabby cat. The hints in the thread helped, and then I started working with him with a clicker, and it made a fantastic difference - he now sits politely while we eat.

As far as stealing food when you leave it out unattended, the best solution is to be careful not to leave food out. Hiding and spraying the cat may temporarily deter her, but instinct is very strong, and if the temptation is there she will always keep trying-she'll just learn to grab it when no one is looking. Also, surprise spraying may make her nervous and insecure, and more likely to develop other more serious behavior problems (even if you hide, she'll see you after you spray her).

It's also a good idea to make sure you're feeding her a high-quality food, to make sure her appetite is satisfied. http://www.catinfo.org/ has good information about the importance of quality protein in a cat's diet. Many cat foods rely on soy or grain protein sources, which aren't as easily processed by a cat.


If you need to teach her to stay off the counters, this might help: http://www.ssscat.com/
It's a remote device, and might be less likely to undermine her trust in you than punishment coming from you in the form of a spray bottle. But I'd still keep food put away as much as possible, because the smell might prove too strong for her instincts even though the deterrent is there.
post #5 of 6
You've gotten great advice. The only thing I would add is to give her her own food to hunt. Put some treats in a small paper cup and make her figure out how to get them out. Hide treats around the house, dry stuff. Let her have a safe way to hunt.
post #6 of 6
Originally Posted by Vik61 View Post
The only thing I would add is to give her her own food to hunt. Put some treats in a small paper cup and make her figure out how to get them out. Hide treats around the house, dry stuff. Let her have a safe way to hunt.
That's a great idea too!
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