Aggressive cats can be equally bewildering and worrisome, if not terrifying, depending on their size and age. Food aggression is a common form of aggression among cats. Your affectionate kitty can easily turn into a threatening wildcat when food becomes a point of contention.
While this trait is common among cats, it doesn't make it okay especially if the aggression begins to result in injury to yourself or your cat. Continue reading to learn about food aggression, common causes and how to manage, if not rectify the behaviour
Feline Food Aggression Signs
Do you know if your cat's aggression is related to food? An unquestionable sign is if your cat acts aggressively just before or during dinner, especially toward weaker or special needs cats. Food aggression can also manifest itself in subtle ways that are not immediately apparent.
- Food-aggressive behaviour includes:
- Constantly asking for food
- Stealing food from the dinner table
- Food bowl guarding
- Guarding the room where the food bowl is located
- Foraging in the garbage or stealing food from the pantry
- During or near mealtimes, hissing, swatting, striking, growling, or lashing its tail.
- Bullying other family cats away from food dishes
Common Causes of Feline Food Aggression
Only feeding your cat once a day might trigger it. Feral cats or felines in the wild may eat nine to twenty small meals daily. Birds and rodents are their prey. As a result, if you give your cat only one daily feeding, he may decide to protect the food at all costs. It is also possible for them to interpret the removal of a food dish as threatening.
Cats are solitary creatures. In the wild, they hunt and eat alone, unlike dogs or wolves that hunt, sleep and eat in packs. If you have multiple cats, eating with/next to/at the same time as other cats or pets in the same household may provoke your cat to defend its meal.
Without privacy during mealtime, some cats will not eat or will over-eat. When company is present at dinner, they may respond aggressively. An undereating disorder can cause malnutrition, while an overeating disorder can cause obesity or vomiting.
A new cat introduced to a multi-cat household or a family cat that suddenly finds its world disturbed by a new cat may display defensive territorial behaviour, such as defending food resources.
How Do I Manage My Cat’s Food Aggression?
The best way to improve your cat's behavior is to be patient, consistent, and dedicated to the process. Felines that are aggressive are quite challenging.
To reduce or eliminate feline food aggression, consider these steps:
- Visit your veterinarian to rule out underlying health issues.
- Make sure your cat knows food is always available by free feeding them throughout the day. This replicates what their species would naturally do in the wild. Do so by dividinh their current meal portion into 5-6 smaller portions providing them throughout the day. If you work from home this is a great option. However, if you are out of the house most of the day, simply split their meal into 4 and do 2 in the morning and 2 at night.
- In the case of dealing with food aggression in a multi-cat household, the obvious strategy will be to feed your cats separately at mealtime. Consider different rooms and different times.
- It is important to position your cat's feeding area away from distractions so that your cat feels protected. Unnerved cats should not be subjected to noise, bright lights, litter boxes, odors, or any type of confusion while eating.
- Food and water should be placed separately and positioned so that your cat can see the surroundings well. It is natural for wild cats to eat and drink at locations where they can see and be on guard against other predators.
- To mimic hunting, feeding positions can be changed frequently.
- Feeding your cat a high quality cat food with different flavours and textures can mimic the different sorts of prey they would eat in the wild. This also stimulates your cat during feeding time, keeping its mind active and distracted from aggressive behaviours.
After a lot of patience, practice and time, gradually, your feline BFF will come to the realization that there will always be a sufficient supply of tasty food on hand and there is no need to be aggressive. Persevere, and you will be rewarded.