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Obsessive Begging?

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Quetzal

Wild thing u- make my heart- sing ♥
 
 
Purred: Sun Jun 23, '13 1:47pm PST 
Okay so I'm putting this in behavior and training instead of food and nutrition because I think it's more related to fixing his behavior than changing his feeding plan, but if I should post it elsewhere let me know!

Quetzal has always been a food hound, ever since he was a tiny 9 week old kitten. When I rescued him he had severe giardia and the result was that no matter how much he ate, he wouldn't gain any weight and was always ravenous. Fast forward five years and he's a healthy happy adult, albeit with some really wonky food allergies. He is doing extremely well on a prey model raw diet but is highly allergic to just about every type of cat food we've ever tried on him. Including the veterinary-prescribed ones. However, he has been completely fine with every meat protein, from chicken to ostrich, bison to kangaroo, that he's eaten raw.

The problem is, he's an absolutely avid beggar. To inhuman degrees. He's only nine pounds but every deterrant has done nothing. He will purr and purr and flop over on his back one minute, the next he is viciously swatting or biting at my hands to try to get whatever I'm eating. If I don't shield my plate he will reach his face in and make off with whatever it is he wants... He's also stolen the meat right out of my sandwich, which I only discovered after seeing a mustard trail on the floor and him happily licking his chops across the room. This is made doubly exasperating because with his allergies, many times he will steal some food and then later puke all over the place or worse, start losing clumps of his fur. He hasn't had any skin outbreaks in a long time thankfully but the puking worries me!

I've tried a spray bottle, but he just darts off and is back in ten seconds. I've tried lightly bopping him on the nose and he responded with a giant smack of his paw. I've tried loud noises, etc, and nothing is a deterrent. I would like to be able to have some study snacks with me while I'm working in my bedroom upstairs without having to shut him downstairs! He seems to be perpetually hungry. I've tried feeding him as much as he can eat (literally put down a whole raw chicken for him to see how much he could finish) and he'll eat not much more than a normal portion then he'll be back to begging in 20 minutes. I obviously can't leave food out for him 24/7 and I am in full time university with a part time job so don't have the time to be constantly giving him snacks all day. He also is in perfect shape right now, quite muscular with no flab but not too skinny either (he has the classic lean Abyssinian shape) and I would like to keep him at his current healthy size.

Any tips for thwarting hardcore beggars would be highly appreciated... Even as a dog trainer I'm stumped with him, nothing has worked!
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Trek

Monster of- Mayhem
 
 
Purred: Mon Jun 24, '13 6:35am PST 
I know with a busy schedule this can be difficult, but try to get him on a regular schedule--not just eating, but also PLAYTIME!! This sounds like a cat that has more energy than he knows what to do with, so he goes after his favorite thing in the world, which is food. Have you tried a couple of intense play sessions, morning and evening? Get a toy like "Da Bird" (best toy EVER!!) and run him ragged. 10-15 minutes ought to do the trick. Stop if he starts panting, even if he seems to want to go more (I have one that will go until he drops, so I have to watch him pretty closely at playtime). Hopefully exhausting him will ease some of his begging tendencies. You could also try clicker training. If he's THAT food motivated, he ought to figure it out pretty quickly. This would give him some mental stimulation and make him work for his food.
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