Begging at the dinner table is not a behavior that’s limited only to dogs. Cats can be just as persistent in looking longingly up at you while you’re trying to enjoy your meal, rub up against your legs, and meow. And unlike dogs, cats may also jump on the table during mealtime. Begging behavior can have a number of different reasons, ranging from physical to behavioral. Identifying the cause of the behavior is the first step in preventing it.

Rule out a medical problem

Diseases such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes can cause voracious appetites in cats. If your cat suddenly seems to be hungrier than a normal, take her to the veterinarian for a thorough exam.

Hunger is instinct-driven

Former stray cats learn that food isn’t always available, and even once these cats live in a permanent home, they may remain fixated on food for the rest of their life. Their survival instinct drives them to always be on the lookout for food. Begging at the dinner table is simply an extension of their natural hunting behavior for these cats.

Feed a species-appropriatediet at the right time

Your first step in preventing cats from begging at the table is to feed them a high quality, species-appropriate diet high in protein and low in carbs. Cats are obligate carnivores who need protein to thrive. Your best choice is a grain-free canned or raw diet. Protein keeps cats satiated longer. Dry foods are too high in carbohydrates; carbs make cats hungry more quickly.

Don’t feed your cats while you’re preparing your meals in the kitchen, this will make them associate your meal time with their meal time. The best time to feed cats is just before you prepare your meals. With a full stomach, your meal will be far less appealing to your cat.

Don’t give your cat table scraps from the table

Giving your cats morsels from the dining table is like inviting her to join you at the table. All it takes is one time, and you will have established a habit that will be very difficult to break.

Avoid leaving food on the table between meals

Always clear your table after a meal to remove temptation, even if the food is covered or wrapped. All it takes is one successful caper for your cat to return to the scene of the crime again and again.

Consider getting a food puzzle toy. Give the treat filled toy to your cat before you sit down to your meal. This will keep her busy while you can eat undisturbed.

Confine your cat to a separate room while you eat

If your cat is a chronic beggar, you may need to confine her to a separate room while you eat your meals. Make it fun for her, make sure the room has toys, a window she can look out from, and even a few treats for her.

Use deterrents

Place a mechanical device like the SSSCAT (affiliate link*) on your table between meals. These devices deliver a blast of compressed air and/or a loud sound when they sense a cat approaching. Your cat will quickly learn that your table is off limits.

Regardless of which approach you use to deter your cat from joining you at the dinner table, consistency is key. By ignoring your cat’s pleas, and not rewarding the undesired behavior, you can stop kitty from bothering you during your meal times.

This article was previously published on and is republished with permission.

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5 Comments on Does Your Cat Beg at the Dinner Table?

  1. I have one nosey cat, Chelsie who cannot resist hopping on the table to see what I’m eating but she stops just short of putting her nose in my plate. But she’s very good at listening to me when I tell her “down” and she then reluctantly jumps to the floor where I give her a big scratchy for being so good. She can actually follow my hand signal for “down.” Charlie , my laid back little boy couldn’t care less about what goes on in the dining room. I’m so lucky. True, I never fed any of them table food or people food or anything other than maybe a little yogurt on a spoon.

  2. Thanks Ingrid you always have some great tips. I have one begger out of my 4 and he will grab your food. Part of it is my own fault. Will try some of your ideas.

  3. I chuckled when I read this. 3 of my kitties (Princess, Meeko and Sam) will sit there and watch me. However, my Cisco will come right up next to me and almost say, “whatcha got there mom?” He will even stick his nose in my mouth if I let him to see what I am or was eating. It does get annoying sometimes, but I have to laugh when he does it. I have never had a cat do that before. He also is my naughty boy who will jump on the counter to see if there is anything left out. I found him on the street so it is understandable. My female Princess does have hyperthyroid and before she was getting treated she was really bad meowing, etc. at meals and even any other time she could. Since being on her medication she is a lot better. However, when I go into the kitchen in the evening to get a snack, or even if I make my supper after they have theirs, she will come to the kitchen and start meowing like she forgot she ate. Then the parade starts. The other 3 come marching in to see if I gave her anything and if I would be compelled to give them more too. It is a crazy kitty nut house in my home sometimes, but since my kids are grown my kitties are my lifeline. They keep living and amuse me and are great company.

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