How to Teach Your Cat to Stop Begging for Food
Some cats just love human food. Others don’t seem to care about it. If your cat develops a love of human food, usually from you sneaking little bits of scraps from your table to him, he will become a likely candidate for begging. He will come to expect you to give him food whenever you’re eating. If you don’t curb this behavior when it first starts, the begging can become quite insistent, with the cat even climbing up into your lap and trying to take food off of your plate or right out of your mouth!
You definitely don’t want kitty acting like this, as it can be annoying for you and quite an embarrassment when friends and family come over, especially if your cat engages in aggressive begging with them. But how can you stop a determined cat? It’s not easy, but you can do it. Just remember who is boss in the house. It’s you and not your cat. He has to respect your position, or he’ll never take anything you say seriously.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to be mean to your kitty to get him to stop begging. You can do it gently and lovingly, and still get the results you want. The best way to stop your cat from begging is to not feed him scraps from the table in the first place. However, if you’re like a lot of cat owners, you’ve probably already done this enough that your cat hangs around under the table or beside your chair while you’re eating. If this is the case, you have to stop it before it gets worse.
The best thing to do when your cat starts to beg is to look him in the eye, firmly say “no,” and then pick him up by the scruff of the neck and move him away from your eating area. He may keep coming back, so you must continue to move him each time he comes near, always saying “no” before making the move. You may even have to continue doing this for many days or weeks before he gets the hint, but he will eventually pick up on your displeasure at him hanging around while you eat, and he will stay away on his own. If you want to give him something to eat as a reward the first time he stays away on his own (once you’re done eating), this will reinforce the behavior, though you will need to always give him a treat after every meal to keep the behavior foremost in his mind.
You can also feed your cat in another room at the same time that you’re eating, or you can shut your cat in a different room while you eat if he eats at a different time from you. But training him to not beg at all, even if he is in the room with you is the best way to make it a good behavior your cat will always follow, once it’s learned.