Do Cats Ask Permission to Eat?

Cat owners know the routine. Your cat will meow or rub up against you at dinner time. They lead you to their bowl and then wait for you to put out the food. Then, there is the moment where they look at you as if they are asking permission to eat. 

Ask Amy Shojai: My Cat Wants Outsid...
Ask Amy Shojai: My Cat Wants Outside, help!

It isn’t so much that your cat is asking permission to eat as it is they are asking for assurance of safety while they eat. Cats want to be sure you are there while they eat because it makes them feel more secure and comfortable. 

Read on to find out more about the strange behavior cats exhibit about eating. 

The Security of You

Cats feel vulnerable while they are eating. They aren’t paying attention to what’s around them and rather concentrate on eating. Even though they are in the home during their meals, cats typically see a meal as a sensitive moment. 

You provide security by watching them. Your cat trusts you and thinks you are assuring their best interest. You watching her makes her feel safe. 

Cats put so much emphasis on this moment that they will stop eating if you get distracted by something else. Some will even lead their human back to the dish so they can finish eating.

Read: Why Do Cats Stare at You While You Sleep? 

Why Do My Cat Walk Me to Its Food?

Cats will walk you to their food for several reasons. First, this is their way of communicating they want to be fed. It’s like pointing a finger at the item they want. Second, they may be trying to tell you something is wrong with it if there is already food in the dish. 

Some cats want fresh food every time.

You can stir the food around to refreshen it and that can encourage your cat to eat. 

Some of this can be attributed to habit. People who get a kitten may feed them while holding them in their laps or pet them while they are eating. This grows into a habit as a cat ages where they expect you to offer companionship during eating. 

Read: Is My Bengal Cat Depressed?

Skittish Cats

Some felines are more skittish than others. They will want to be able to see you are watching them while they eat more than others. These are cats that may follow you around all day. Even the fearless kittens can develop fears as they grow into adults so pay attention to behavioral changes, as some can be a signal of illness. 

Read: Bengal Cat Colors: Every Color & Pattern Combo You Should See

Social Order

Cats do have a social order and that can include eating, although it’s more subtle than in dogs. Most cats don’t have food insecurity and tend to not fight over food. 

A study of feral cats shows that big, fierce males eat after the females and kittens. It also showed that kittens were allowed to eat first and the female felines were dominant over the toms.

However, cats do determine an “alpha” cat and that cat tends to get more respect from other cats.

An example would be a cat will walk away from the food dish when the alpha cat approaches. 

Kitty Eating Habits

Cats have unique behaviors regarding their food and that can make things interesting at dinner time. 

Playing With Food

Your cat may knock her food out from the bowl before eating it. This is to satisfy her predator instinct which is similar to a wild cat playing with its prey before killing it. 

Playing with their food isn’t a bad thing. It results in mental stimulation and keeps them from being lazy. 

Read: Why You Shouldn’t Own a Bengal Cat?

They Eat Quickly

Most cats will nibble, leave their food, and eat throughout the day. Yet, some wolf food down. These are cats that either is fearful other pets will eat their food if they eat it first. Another reason for quick eating is their human is only feeding them two big meals a day so they are really hungry. 

Cats Eating Alone

Some cats have an extra need to feel safe and prefer to eat alone in a quiet environment. Even the sound of a dishwasher or a faucet running can cause them to stop eating. Be aware of what your cat needs to feel comfortable.

Read: Bengal Cat Personality: Everything You Need To Know

FAQs

Why does my cat bring me dead things?

Cats often think of their humans as their parents but sometimes they take on the parental role. They bring you dead things to try to teach you to hunt. 

Never scold a cat for this ritual. It would hurt their feelings. Accept the gift, praise your cat and quietly dispose of the trophy. 

Why would a cat suddenly stop eating?

It could be several things causing your cat to stop eating. They could be ill and you may need to consult with a vet if it continues. It could also be that you changed their diet and they haven’t adjusted to the new food yet. 

Middle-aged cats have a challenging time adjusting to a diet change. It’s not just that they liked the old food. New, different food may cause an upset stomach. 

You may try mixing some old food with new food and slowly transitioning your cat completely to the new food. Put less of the old food in each day until the transition is complete.

Why does my cat growl at his bowl?

Your cat is food guarding. While this is uncommon with housecats, a cat may guard his food if other animals are in the house. Growling is a warning to others not to disturb him while he’s eating. 

Will cats drink out of a dog’s bowl?

Yes, cats don’t have a problem drinking from a dog’s bowl if they are thirsty. Typically, cats will do this with dogs they know well or have grown up around. 

That isn’t because they fear germs but more of a concern for safety. They know dogs they trust will not bother them. 

Should I pet my cat while he’s eating?

Most cats don’t like to be touched while they are eating but this depends on your relationship. Those who have always petted the cat during meals as a kitten will be perfectly fine to do it when the cat is an adult. 

Cats really just want you to watch them eat to make sure they are safe.