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Let's Talk: Do You Let Your Cats Eat at the Dinner Table?

We let our cat Ghosty sit with us but then we got a kitten; will I ever have a peaceful meal again?

 |  Jul 28th 2014  |   14 Contributions


Back when Ghost Cat was an only pet, we used to let her sit on the table while we ate dinner (I know, I know, that’s a terrible idea on so very many levels). I knew it was bad, but it was just so darn cute, and even my husband didn’t mind. My statuesque girl would just sit on the table and be still, minding her own business until we decided to give her a bite of fish or a piece of penne or whatever. Ghost Cat was used to this relaxed routine, and mealtime begging has never really been her thing. She’s more likely to give sad eyes and a few mournful meows than to bum rush your plate.

Ghost Cat never tries to steal my dinner. Dessert, however; that's another ballgame.

The dining room table used to be a relaxing place to enjoy a conversation with my husband, while we both admired the cuteness of our third dinner guest, Ghosty. Then, little Specter came along, and now mealtimes are an entirely different story. These days we humans must guard our food at all times, from every angle. This little one will run at our plates a thousand times in one meal. She’s like a little piranha. She makes noises like an alarm clock when we move her away from the food.

Removed from the tabletop. The soundtrack to this is prolonged, extremely loud crying.

Specter’s desire for human food just can’t be stopped. She’ll scale the chairs, the sides of the table itself, even our legs to get up to our plates. It doesn’t matter how many times we pick her up off the table and put her back down on the floor. I’ve never seen anything like it. This kitten is seriously unstoppable.

Ghosty knows better than to lick plates, but that doesn't mean she's not jealous.

It’s gotten so bad that Ghost Cat doesn’t even want to sit on the table during dinnertime anymore. She knows the kitten is just going to be scaling the table and dashing in between plates, trying to steal a bite of something. Ghost Cat is just far too regal to be involved in something so silly.

She now perches herself on a chair, so she can still be part of the family, but not part of the fighting. She will usually go away when dinner is done, while Specter makes sure to stick around. That kitten will let nothing stop her from getting to those dishes. If I turn my back for one moment while clearing the plates, she’ll be on the table, gobbling up scraps. It worries me, because she’s not particularly picky about what leftovers she chooses. Salad dressing, pasta sauce -- a lot of the stuff that’s left on my plate after diner contains little bits of onions, and I know that could be dangerous for her.

So my husband and I are stepping up dinner defense. We’re quick to pluck Specter from the tabletop, as we’re trying to teach her that she can’t lick the dishes. I try to entice her with treats away from the table, and we’re even considering that we may have to put her in another room while we’re eating and then doing the dishes. I’m kind of torn on the idea of kicking her out of the dining room. I mean, this is her house, too, and she should be able to be with the rest of the family during dinnertime -- especially if we’re not going to kick Ghost Cat out, too.

This is what happens when we don't wash our dishes instantly. I have to use Clorox and Lysol.

I would blame myself for Specter’s human food obsession because she’s grown up watching Ghost Cat sit at the dinner table, but the truth is that Specter has been trying to steal our meals since before she was even eating her own cat food! When we first brought her home, my husband quickly learned that he couldn’t have a bowl of cereal in the same room as her if he didn’t want to put up with persistent cries to share. She can’t understand why we don’t want her drinking dairy milk or soy milk, so Specter has always acted like we’re being totally mean by denying her the dregs of our cereal bowls.

Even when I skip the cereal and have fruit for breakfast, she's still up in my business.

I don’t know what to do with this kitten. I just want Specter to be a little more like Ghost Cat at meal times. I have no problem sharing a bit of salmon burger now and then, but I don’t want to have to eat with one hand and guard my plate with the other.

Do your cats have good table manners? If you let them come to the dinner table, do they let you eat in peace? Tell us about it in the comments.

Read more from Heather about Ghost Cat and Specter:

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About the author: Heather Marcoux is Ghost Cat’s mom. She is also a wife, writer and former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts GIFs of her cat on Google +.

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