As much as we love our cats, sometimes it can be challenging to pet them. Unlike other pets, cats are more playful and like to play around with their owners.
As pet parents, it is difficult to ignore the cute behaviors of your cat. Yet, sometimes these playful tendencies affect the cat’s eating or sleeping behaviors.
If your cat is playing with its food, it should not be a red alert as most of the time, they act so because of their instincts, kitty tendencies, or just as a gesture of attention-seeking.
Pets all over the world amaze their owners by their eating behavior, cats often play with their food, acting like they are catching their prey. Just like a soccer player kicking around a football in a soccer match.
As human beings, eating is an artless task which is to be undertaken daily, this allows us to get ourselves relaxed after a long day and perhaps catch up with friends as we enjoy our meals.
But from a cat’s perspective, eating is “not just a simple deed.”
Alright, we get it, you don’t want your cat spoiling his food & wasting it at the same time just for the excuse of “Playing.”
This is what you can do to change a cat playing with his food,
Why Would a Cat Play with its Food?
Pet cats can be defined as “domesticated animals” therefore, it is nearly impossible for anyone to change their natural instincts.
This is why, cats especially, are quite primitive at times. They can even do some very strange things that you might not understand.
When it comes to meals, a normal feline would stare at you when you feed her and then suddenly start/stop eating its food. A playful kitty would play around a few times but NOT every single time.
These are all normal behaviors but anything more should be looked into…
If your cat does not want to complete its food and is instead, playing around, this may be why it is doing so…
· Cat Has Had Her Fill
Most of the time when a cat does not want to eat his food and is simply playing around with it is because the cat has already eaten. It might be some other food source or someone has fed the cat before.
This can be solved easily by keeping your cat away from a food source for a while.
Check to see if your cat shows symptoms of hunger after you have told everyone not to feed her for a while and eliminated any external food sources.
If, however, you have made sure that this is not the case, move on to the next possible setting.
· To Avoid Boredom
Sometimes cats start playing with their food just because they are bored. This is more of an owner-related issue than a cat-related one.
Normally, what happens in this scenario is that a cat wants attention and when it cannot get enough of it from its owner, it tries to find other places or things of interest.
Those may be toys, people, things, and even food.
As a solution, the only thing you need to do is to spend more time with your feline or play a bit more with it.
· Hunting Instinct
Pet Cats do not have to hunt for their meal as food is simply served to them several times a day with no effort required at all.
This makes them lazy and often frustrated. Their natural hunting instinct becomes more and more imminent to finally reach a level where your cat no longer wants to eat the food served in a bowl and wants to hunt.
Rightfully so, to satisfy the desire for hunting they often play with their food by jumping over it, spilling it, or tracing it on the floor with their nose.
Unlike stray cats that use their hunting instincts for finding their meal and do the actual physical effort, pet cats that are not hunting will therefore look for other ways to satisfy their natural hunting urges at home.
This is why sometimes they use their provided meal as an avenue for this.
This mere simulation of hunting does not only provide food but also stimulates their acute senses.
The only way you can counter this is by giving the cat as many physical exercises and toys as you can muster.
· Repetitive Dinners
Just like you won’t like eating the same thing over and over again, you cannot expect your cat to keep itself limited to a single cat feed.
Repetitive meals can easily offend if not frustrate your cat. Thus, the cat has no intention of eating, and instead, it may start ignoring or playing with its food.
Your cat will eventually get fed up with any type of feed if it continues long-term. Therefore, it is recommended to keep at least three or four different flavors of food and give them out based on a schedule that best suits your cat.
How Do I Stop My Cat from Playing with its Food?
No matter how advanced humans get, there is absolutely no way for our pets to adapt to the new trends around them. Hence, they will always need us to be there for them for simple things.
Nope, having robots just won’t cut it… If you are thinking that… 😉
As pet owners, we should neither expect them to be without our care nor hope for it. What few options do we have left? – read on and select what works best for you.
· Play with Your Feline
Domestic cats need to be petted and played with to meet their instinct urges. Spending a little time with your cat in playing some games 10-15 minutes daily plays an important role to achieve this.
This will also build your relationship with your cat. At the same time, it is a great way to get to know you and your cat.
If you pet your cat in activities like feeding, playtime, your cat will feel the attention she wants and this is also important to some extent as it ensures that the cat feels safe and sound. It will also help in relieving the stress, anxiety, and behavioral problems of your cat.
Here are a few tips that will help you establish a healthy relationship with your feline:
1. Choose the right time to pet your Cat
Cats are most active during the early evening or dawn, you should play with your cat or pet it in between these times because this time is most likely to get you an equal and energetic response from your cat.
Avoid playing with your cat in the afternoon especially in summers, because most cats sleep at that time and cats DO NOT like to be awakened from sleep.
2. Be Consistent
There is no need for any long-term sessions daily to play with your cat, this is not therapy. Act normal.
Little and often is better than more and occasional.
Cats are extremely resistant to routines that is why setting up a routine will simply escalate problems, try to be as random as you can.
3. Let Them Be
You should not make your cat do stuff that you want it to do, let it be.
Tease their instincts of hunting by mimicking a “catch prey” game with the help of moving toys.
You can include many other toys of such type to help them get the best of their life inside a house.
4. Build Your Cat’s Confidence
Let your cat be successful in preying games and catching a toy. This will build up confidence and interest in your cat and also relieve frustration and boredom.
· Use Reward Games
Some people have trained their cats to a reward game system where cats do certain tasks for a reward and seem to enjoy it.
These games include many things that may apply to different cats. Like, running around a corner or in the backyard for a bite of meat, sardines, etc.
Most of the time, these playful things keep a cat’s interest in actual playable things rather than your cat playing with its food.
What Else Can You Do?
Be creative and invent new ways if the above-mentioned steps do not solve your problem.
Remember that like humans, cats have different personalities, try to understand your cat before doing anything new.
Here are a few other things you can “try”;
1. A Toy Mouse tied at the rear of a Wand:
A toy mouse at the end of the wand is a great deal of fun for both you and your cat. It is a simple technique but proves efficient and near to natural mimicry of “cat and mouse play.”
You can always try to move the mouse to mimic real mouse movements.
2. Using Activity Feeders:
Activity feeders force your cat to work for her meal.
In the case of wild cats, they eat less but hunt more and then start all over again the next day. This physical effort keeps them in good shape.
Activity feeders are based on the same principle. They require a cat to show physical strength or capability to get either his full meal or a portion of it.
Check out some of the best feeders for your sweet paws tested by us
It can be safely concluded that cats may often play with their food and it might be normal for your cat to do so.
Just make sure that they are not taking their food as a toy. If it is meant for eating, it should be eaten either by playing with it or by casually eating it. If you observe your cat exhibit unusual behaviors like gagging, etc. you should consider taking professional advice.
Advice As A Cat Owner:
Though eating habits must be trained well, sometimes it’s okay to watch your cat enjoy, and smile a bit. We hope that your playful little fluffy feline keeps itself busy with a toy rather than a Sardine, until next time.
Till then, share your experiences with us in the comment section and let us know how your cat behaves while eating.
Happy Cat Parenting! 🙂