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Stealing food from the table

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have two siblings, boy and girl. They are 6 months old. We have a huge problem. As soon as both me and my husband walk off the kitchen our two cats jump on the kitchen table and counter tops and look for food to steal. Don't think that they are hungry. They do this even after they are fed. They didn't use to do that, but of course they were small and couldn't jump that high. Yesterday my huspand was helping me cook and he was cutting meat he turned away, our female put her paw on the table grabed the piece and ran away. They also figured out how to open the garbage door. So now they raid our garbage too. I started giving them more to eat but now I feel like I'm overfeeding them. When they walk away from their plates their stomack is huge like a baloon. How do I discipline them? Why do they do that?
post #2 of 18
I have the same problem with my one cat. She has been going after our food since we brought her home at six months. I use the spray bottle method of discipline. We eat at the coffee table in our living room (no dining area in our apartment). She will sit there are watch us eat. As soon as we turn away she goes for the food. The first time I sprayed her. Now I just leave the spray bottle there and pick it up if she goes for our food. Eventually she walks away and starts to eat her own food.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
That's the funny thing when we bring food into bed they will never go for it. But the kitchen is crazy. I guess they know that that's the place where the food comes from. I will spray them but, do you know how to make them stop when we are not there? I mean we can't leave anything on the counters. Once I left for work and left my cup with tea on the table they drank my tea. Then I have a basket with variaty of nuts on the counter they ripped all the bags and ate the nuts. They are like parecites. What do I do? Hide everything? Why do they do that?
post #4 of 18
Garfield and Festus did that A LOT at that age. Basically, they are trained to do so, by sometimes being successful at it. And my kids loved to walk away leaving food on the table!

At this age the best plan is to never leave treats out for them to find. Another hint might be to use pepper flakes. That is what I sprinkle on the trash. This way, instead of learning that yummy stuff is stored in the trash can or on the table, they learn it is yucky.

Punishing them for doing it has little effect (like the water bottle). Because in cat terms, any food left over is available for someone else. And if you protect it (squirt them), to them, it just means "come back later" or "try again next time" rather than "stay out of my food".

Good luck. My kitties are pretty well behaved now. They don't get on the table when I am watching, anyhow! LOL!
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Is pepper flakes that you're talking about is ground pepper? If so is it harmfull for them to smell it or eat it? I like that idea because it would really teach them that there is never anything good on the table. Thanks for your help.
post #6 of 18
I use red pepper flakes. I don't see how it could hurt them, but have never seen them eat it. I think the smell is enough to convince them that I am a terrible cook, and we only have yucky stuff on the table!
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Red Pepper Flakes - like the ones you sprinkle on pizza? Pepperocini? I think that's what I need to do. Thanks
post #8 of 18
I'd say don't leave any food sitting out, and child-proof your cabinets. That won't stop "kamikaze attacks" while you're preparing or eating food, but it will cut down on the number of "snacks" they're getting. If they're getting into the garbage pail, you could try a few squirts of lemon juice in it to deter them.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you I will try that.
post #10 of 18
Oliver's older, so he's more disciplined, but he still likes to beg.... he knows he's not allowed on the kitchen table at all (unless I have the hermit crabs out of their tank and on the table, then he knows he has to be there to watch them) and he cant get up on my counters, but if i'm eating at the desk or floor he's right at my plate.... he doesn't usually steal, but will put a paw on the edge of my plate after a sniff and look at me... if he's allowed, I'll give him a taste of whatever it is he's after, if not, he gets a stern "no" and I move his paw off my plate... doesnt mean he won't still beg and stare at me while I eat, but he wont steal...

It's just a matter of your kitties being kitties! Keep up with sternly telling them no and making sure they know you guys are mama and papa cat and rule the roost - in time they will learn... there are many devices such as vibration alarms and scat mats that can train your kits that the table and counters are no place for them to be at any time

Good luck!
post #11 of 18
I've never been able to train a cat not to eat whatever he/she wants to. Meow, my kitty when I was a kiddo, would be on *anything* that was left out, even just for a second. She also liked to eat brocolli under the table (bless her). Loki, my kid brother's cat, won't eat anything but hard food (we once ran out, and tried to give him soft food, but he didn't even lick it). He's even been trained not to jump up onto the kichen table. I think he's too dumb to know that anything but the kibbles are edible, though.

My kitten babies will try to eat anything. Like the risotto I spilled on the floor a couple weeks ago, or whatever I'm eating. They're not allowed up on the computer desk (where I eat most of my meals), but they always try to get at whatever I'm having. Usually I'll stick them both on the ground 3-4 times before they get the hint. It doesn't have anything to do with hunger, because both kittens are free-fed, they're just greedy little things. I don't know what I'm going to do when they're big enough to jump up onto the counters. Maybe if I bathe them in the kichen sink often enough, they'll learn to hate the general area.

Definitely child-proof your trash bin, and just be quick about putting away leftovers and washing the dishes.
post #12 of 18
They don't like the feel of certain textures under their feet - I had a HUGE problem with Sashka doing this. She still gets up on the benches but I've just learnt to keep stuff away!!

Try putting a flat tray of water around the benches/table near the edge where they would land if they jump up - they DON'T like getting their feet wet. Also, try bubble wrap or aluminium foil, or double-sided tape. These are all textures cats don't like, because they are uncertain-feeling for them.

You won't have to do it forever, because pretty soon they'll associate jumping up with getting a bad feeling on their feet. And they're not to know that it's not always going to be like that.

Also, if you can catch them in the act, a loud clap and a `no!' will startle them into associating that with their getting up on the benches.

Clicker training is excellent for this kind of thing but it's a bit tricky to start learning how to do. Once you've got the hang of it, though, it's great. All of my animals are clicker-trained - cats, dogs etc... (not the Siamese fighting fish though...lol!)
post #13 of 18
When my cat's started doing this I stuck with my usual way for disciplining them, I tell them no, Snap my fingers loudly, and if they don't move at that I flip them lightly in the nose, they hate it but it works, now they are all 5-6 months and when they hear me say No or Get down they usually ignore me until I snap my fingures, but they no what comes next so they stop then. It works well for me, Mom can't do it at all though. lol I think the cat's just don't like her very well. lol
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audrey
When my cat's started doing this I stuck with my usual way for disciplining them, I tell them no, Snap my fingers loudly, and if they don't move at that I flip them lightly in the nose, they hate it but it works, now they are all 5-6 months and when they hear me say No or Get down they usually ignore me until I snap my fingures, but they no what comes next so they stop then. It works well for me, Mom can't do it at all though. lol I think the cat's just don't like her very well. lol
They hate it because cats' and dogs' noses are ULTRA sensitive - much more so than humans'. It's actually really quite painful for them.

Obviously I would never recommend that you ever lay a hand on one of your kitties, but a tap on the butt with one finger would be much preferable to a flick on the nose - which, again, is very painful for a cat.
post #15 of 18
Buddy did this for the first time the other day, But I had to laugh I just got home with the groceries, and I have a huge pack of thick cut pork chops in the grocery bag. The pack was twice the size of him. Next thing I knew, I was chasing him as he attempted to run to the livingroom with this pack of pork chops in his mouth. It was acutally quite hillarious. I guess he just wanted those porkchops.

I do know though, that I won't be happy if it becomes a regular thing.
post #16 of 18
I have pretty much the same problem, but it is very extreme! My kitten steals and eats pretty much anything organic and edible. She sneaks up and grabs whatever I'm eating and then runs away with it. She opens boxes of food or chews through them (cracker boxes, oatmeal, dogfood). She even eats fries, fruit... ANYTHING. She frantically licks empty bowls and plates that have been eaten off of... The worst thing is, she aggressively protects the stolen food; she growls/meows very loudly, and bites and scratches it seems like as well as she can to protect the food. I let her eat as much dry food as she wants, but she only eats that if she can't find anything else. She gets bad gas after eating human food, for hours.
I can't always monitor her behaviour and spray her with water or something, because I live in a 3-person house and they always leave food around
She was raised by people who fed her potato chips and other human food, no cat food. I adopted her to help her(she was bloated and very weak). She seemed great for a little bit but after she got healthier she has become very frustrating. I am on the verge of giving her away before she gets much older: I'd like to give her away while she is still young if I'm going to because she would have a better chance as a younger cat... and maybe less traumatized.

Thanks, any ideas welcome. I will be trying the pepper and lemon but those are human foods so she will probably eat them.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scythan
I have pretty much the same problem, but it is very extreme! My kitten steals and eats pretty much anything organic and edible. She sneaks up and grabs whatever I'm eating and then runs away with it. She opens boxes of food or chews through them (cracker boxes, oatmeal, dogfood). She even eats fries, fruit... ANYTHING. She frantically licks empty bowls and plates that have been eaten off of... The worst thing is, she aggressively protects the stolen food; she growls/meows very loudly, and bites and scratches it seems like as well as she can to protect the food. I let her eat as much dry food as she wants, but she only eats that if she can't find anything else. She gets bad gas after eating human food, for hours.
I can't always monitor her behaviour and spray her with water or something, because I live in a 3-person house and they always leave food around
She was raised by people who fed her potato chips and other human food, no cat food. I adopted her to help her(she was bloated and very weak). She seemed great for a little bit but after she got healthier she has become very frustrating. I am on the verge of giving her away before she gets much older: I'd like to give her away while she is still young if I'm going to because she would have a better chance as a younger cat... and maybe less traumatized.

Thanks, any ideas welcome. I will be trying the pepper and lemon but those are human foods so she will probably eat them.
Poor little girl! Maybe she does need to be rehomed, where all members of the household will work with her on her behaviors.

Otherwise, I would recommend incorporating people food into her diet. It is very hard to convince a kitty who was raised on chips that people food isn't good for her. But do some research on raw food diets, and add some ingredients to her diet.

Like whenever you are cooking chicken, give her some raw chicken and skin. Make it a little routine, to teach her good treats come from Mommy in her bowl, rather than scraped up off the floor! And just add healthy human foods to her kibble. Hopefully that will satisfy her snack tooth.

Maybe tell your roommates she has worms, and if they keep leaving food around it is likely she will pass worms to them?!? LOL! Or agree to do extra chores around the place if they will be very careful for the next two months, not to leave food around. In this way, you train them and the cat, but will have more success with her.
post #18 of 18
I will definitely try to get my family to stop leaving dishes out, but the chores thing won't quite work as I have a sibling and she wouldn't care about that. Maybe I can buy her off?
I was thinking of something: my dad has a warehouse which has a lot of mice in it. Would a cat like this be a good choice for keeping as a mouse hunter? (of course she would be fed and everything else! My dad lives in the warehouse in an insulated upper room.) I wouldn't even consider doing this if my kitten is able to learn not to eat people food, but I suspect that she has something wrong with her brain, possibly from not getting the right nutrition while growing. She seems near unable to learn, even if it does not have to do with human food (such as not jumping up onto the terrariums or computer desk). I have had her for over a month, and she doesn't even flinch or jump off when I tell her NO.
She is very hyper and playful all the time, and she has shown the ability to defend herself (ouch), so I don't think the mice would be a problem for her. If you think this is a bad idea, I will not do it. Thank you
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