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What Do You Do When Your Cat Insists on Hunting Your Food?

Do you have a cat who's always trying to steal your food or scouring the counters looking for the remnants of your meals? What do you do about it?

 |  Mar 21st 2012  |   22 Contributions


I have a confession to make: Despite the fact that I've spent almost 10 years helping people to understand their cats and giving them tips on how to eliminate their feline friends' "bad" behavior, there's one thing I haven't been able to stop in my own kitties.

No matter what I do, they're always skulking on the counter while I prepare my meals, jumping on the table and attempting to eat whatever I have on my plate, and hunting for any scraps I might have left behind in my food preparation efforts.

The behavior is at its worst when I eat meat. In fact, one day, Siouxsie and Thomas double-teamed me and stole a lamb chop right off my plate! I made this video right after the incident took place:


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

I've tried pretty much every trick in my vast library of cat behavior modification books, but the little scamps still insist on "hunting" for the food I eat. It's gotten to the point that when I have guests over for meals, I have to lock the cats in the bedroom to avoid dinner disasters.

I always practice "lead them not into temptation" -- I wash every dish and utensil I use before I start eating, so they have no reason to scavenge for scraps and lick butter off knives. I clean the counters thoroughly. Does that help? No! They still insist on checking to see if I've left even the tiniest morsel behind.

I've used X-Mats to make the counter-surfing experience unpleasant. But the little stinkers either learned how to walk so that the little pokey bits didn't poke their paw pads or they simply didn't care. No amount of uncomfortable deterrence seemed to keep them from their indoor hunting.

I've used double-stick tape. Guess what? They learned how to walk around and over that, too.

I've tried the "for every No, provide a Yes" technique. If they waited patiently on the floor while I cooked, the cats would get a treat.

Guess what? They didn't care to wait when they could try to steal my food the minute I turned my back.

I haven't used Sssscat yet, even though reviewers at pet product sites praise its effectiveness. I have mixed feelings about "training aids" that cause physical discomfort and potential harm.I refuse to use the mats that give cats an electric shock if they venture into forbidden areas. Even though the shock is supposed to be minor, just enough to deter, I still think it's inhumane.

At this point I've just gotten used to giving Siouxsie and Thomas the stink-eye and growling at them when they try to hunt my food. I know that by giving them attention, I am, in a way, positively reinforcing their bad behavior, but I don't know what else to do at this point.

Have you got any tips to stop counter-surfing kitties? Have you found a technique or product that works for you? Please, for the love of all things cute and furry, let me know!

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