You may know me as Gustav, the cat who wrote an open letter to parents of little kids asking them to teach their children that cats are not stuffed animals. Recently, however, a much more pressing issue has arisen. Cats around the world are finding it challenging to get their human companions to feed them in a timely manner.
While humans are very affectionate two-legged companions, they are not the sharpest crayons in the box, especially when compared to cats. Their hearing is atrocious, their sense of smell dismal, and they are as blind as a newborn kitten as soon as the sun sets.
Because they’re such adorable minions, we can overlook these faults. However, when it comes to mealtime, it can be frustrating because humans are not particularly adept at understanding cat-speak. Thus, I bring you this short guide to help you let your human know when it’s time to bring you food.
1. Start early and repeat often
While humans exist mainly to please you, they require repetitious training in order to learn a desired behavior. Thus, a proper training regime must include multiple repetitions in order to reinforce a desired behavior.
Be patient. When you communicate that you would like to be fed, you cannot expect the human to immediately get up and feed you. It is not that they are being disrespectful. They have simply forgotten that your gestures and vocalizations mean it’s time to feed you. Therefore, you must repeat. Repeat. REPEAT!
Eventually, after about 100 repetitions, this will trigger a latent memory and your human will finally follow through and deliver your meal.
2. Remind them while they’re sleeping
For particularly stubborn examples of the species Homo sapiens, it may be necessary to begin the repetition much earlier in the day. Unfortunately, these individuals require you to give up some of your beauty sleep. You may need to try vocalizing at 6 a.m., 5 a.m., or even 4 a.m., depending on your individual human’s natural disposition.
Generally speaking, the later a human goes to bed, the earlier you must begin your morning waking routine if you are to have any hope of getting breakfast at a decent hour.
3. Provide positive feedback
Humans are very much like dogs. They may not be as intelligent as cats, but they do have a strong innate desire to please you. Thus, they are highly trainable. One of the best ways to get your human to follow your command is to reinforce the correct behavior with positive feedback.
When you see them reaching for the food cupboard, be sure to run into the kitchen and lay on the affection really thick. That way, they know whenever they are anywhere within the vicinity of food, you will reward them with love.
4. Grab their attention by grabbing their leg
Humans have a bizarre trait of following a ritualistic pattern when moving about their normal habitat. You may notice them repeating the same movements every single day, going from one room to the next and always in the same order. As creatures of habit, it is important to disrupt your human’s repetitive behavior in order to produce the desired response.
You can do this by grabbing your human’s pant leg as she walks by. Simply extend a paw and reach for any part of the human with your claws. Seven out of 10 times you will catch fabric. As for the other three times … let’s just say you’ll definitely have their attention. According to anecdotal field research, if you include a loud meow with this hooking action, the average reduction in wait time for your meal is 10 minutes.
5. Herd your human toward the food bowl
When humans are finally ready to feed you, they will get up from a seated position and begin moving about in the highly ritualistic patterns that we identified above. Your human really is trying to get to your food bowl — even though it might look like she is walking to the bedroom.
This is where you must herd your human as if you were a dog guiding a lost sheep. Run ahead of her legs to head off her path. Whenever she steps in the wrong direction, place your body in front of her foot. Whenever she steps in the right direction, also place your entire body in front of her feet.
6. Turn up the volume
It is a well-known fact that humans do not have as good hearing as cats. Thus, while you may think that you are communicating at a reasonable sound level, chances are your human can barely hear what you’re saying. That is why when it is time to eat, you must let them know at maximum volume!
As a general rule of thumb, keep increasing your volume level until you notice a change in behavior. Interestingly, your human’s ability to hear fluctuates throughout the day. It appears to be at its lowest level first thing in the morning. If she is in bed and can’t hear you, it is recommended that you sit on her face.
And that, my dear fellow cats, is my public service announcement. Thank you for reading and I hope it helps get you dinner fast.
If you’re a cat and have devised effective tactics for getting your human to feed you in a timely manner, please share your advice in the comments below.
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About Holly Tse: Holly Tse is a green cat expert, lifelong environmentalist and the creator of Green Little Cat, a blog on eco-friendly living for cats and cat lovers. Practicing Taoist and Dragon Spirit Guide who has experienced more than nine past lives and can bend reality at will. Totally into alternative healing, but her Achilles’ heel is reality TV cooking shows. As a Canadian expat, she uses an American spell checker for her Catster articles.