How to deal with the cats stealing food? – Understanding cat psyche

You must have seen people posting pictures of their cats stealing food and it may look very adorable until your own cat starts stealing food all the time becomes very annoying. It’s a very common thing to hear that your cat or the neighbor’s cat stole food and a lot of cats do that unless they have been trained to be highly disciplined. The stealing nature of cats is nothing unusual as it quite a part of their mischievous behavior and abilities like a superior vision in dark, sneaking in silently, high jumping, and perfect claws.

However, a whole lot of factors work behind this behavior of the cats and you need to understand them before you move on to deal with your cat’s actions. Read on to know more about why a cat steals food and how to deal with a cat stealing food.


Reasons that cause cats to steal food

cats stealing food

If your cat is stealing food very often, then she isn’t doing it out of hunger all the time. There can be multiple reasons behind it including both behavioral and situational elements. This means that cats can steal food either because of their natural instincts or because the care they are being given is not enough for them.

Let’s see some of the common reasons that encourage cats to grab some food off the counter or your plate itself:

Due to instincts

Cats belong to the category of predators and hunting instincts are naturally embedded in their behavior. This means that it quite common for them to remain much motivated towards food and being successful in grabbing the food quenches their hunting skills. It is not a surprising thing to accept as these skills have always been in cats to help them survive anywhere.

Due to hunger

Another simple reason that can lead to cats stealing food is hunger. Cats have a higher hunger quotient due to their smaller stomachs and thus it can become difficult for them to resist the aroma of food. If you haven’t been feeding them on time or the diet they are being given is not of their liking may also lead them to steal your food.

Being fed from the table

If you have been feeding your cat with the food picked from the plates on the table or counters that might encourage them to think that it’s okay to eat food kept on the tables. Also, giving them anything to eat from your plate may encourage them to help themselves with any kind of food at any time.

Presence of food unattended on tables

Seeing unattended or open food on the table or counters will lure the cats to grab it. Cats are notorious creatures and they might just grab the food to either eat it or spill it around.

Lack of stimulation or attention

Cats get bored easily and most of them need constant stimulation and attention to match their activity spree. If your cat steals food, then the probable reason is not it is not getting enough of both and maybe doing the stealing just to catch your attention or to do something for the sake of it in lack of any substantial activity to perform.

Tips on preventing cats from stealing food

There can be many repercussions of the cats stealing food in the long term that you must know and thereby deter your cat from doing such activities. It can have an impact on you due to hygiene issues that arise when cats lick the plates or you consume the food touched by them. The cats may also get overweight if they over eat by unregulated stealing and also litter the house with food spills.

In any case, other than the times you videotape your cat stealing food, you would surely want to prevent your cat from making it a habit, and here are some tips on how you can do it:

Don’t reward or treat them always

Your cat will try to beg for the food you are eating and deploy all tricks to get a bite, but you don’t have to give in if you want to keep them disciplined. Also, don’t give them food treats and rewards always upon them doing anything right or just while any casual activity. Be consistent with this behavior and don’t let them consume any food off your plate or table at any cost.

Keep all food out of their reach

The best preventive measure against cats stealing food is to keep it out of their reach. Make sure to never leave food unattended or open on the high counters that your cat might sight and steal subsequently. If your cat is extremely naughty and knocks off food containers from high places, make sure to keep them closed in cabinets and anything that helps them to reach the counters away.

Feed your cat regularly and properly

It’s because a hungry cat steals food more often, you must take care that your cat is getting its meals on time and the food is a proper meal for her. Other than the regular two meals a day, you may have to give your cat three meals a day but that’s better than letting her steal food due to hunger. Keep their utensils and clean and serve them fresh food with little bit changes in their diet often to keep them interested too.

Use deterrents

If you can’t keep food items protected all the time, then you can simply aim towards deterring the cat from jumping to the tables and counters. For that, you can use things like cat deterrent spray or have your table edges covered with sticky tape to discourage the cats from jumping on them.

Use other means to stimulate cat instincts

cats stealing food

Cats need stimulation and there are many alternate means by which activity needs will get satisfied like toys, scratch posts, etc. Their hunting instincts can be met with different cat games like puzzle feeders, treat balls, and similar other toys that let them play and get food treats as a reward. This is the best way to keep them engaged and become disciplined eaters.

Sync their mealtimes with yours

It’s a good way to adopt since when a cat munches on its food while you eat your food too, it won’t need to look into what you are eating. Also, keep a tab on their diet pattern and portions that they each every day to be able to give them the desired amount of food that keeps them full.

Visit a vet or pet behaviorist

If your cat steals food incessantly, then there might be an underlying psychological or health issue. In such cases, you should take your cat to a veterinarian or a pet behaviorist for professional help can solve the situation better. This will also safeguard you against any potential contamination risk.


So to deal with the cats stealing food, you only have to be a little cautious and take some common measures that can solve the problem easily. Just make sure to not deal with them harshly in such situations and be calm and gentle. Any wrong counter can affect your relationship with your cat negatively.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.