Why Does My Cat Want Me To Watch Her Eat?
“Why does my cat want me to watch her eat” is certainly not an uncommon question. Some cat owners since the beginning of time have been scratching their heads as their cat refuses to eat without them watching.
Well, maybe not the beginning of time, but since the beginning of time where we started domesticating cats!
Although it seems odd, it’s not exactly a rare cat behavior. Cats are very peculiar animals, but everything they do has a purpose. (Whether you want to believe it or not).
These peculiarities don’t discriminate against your cat’s eating habits. Wanting you to watch her eat is a habit cats have been exhibiting for a long time. Some cats will walk over to their food bowl and wait for their pet owner(s) to be close by before they eat.
Let’s dive and help pet parents see what’s up with this behavior from our feline friends.
We want to start off by saying that your cat wanting you to watch her eat is usually nothing to be concerned about. This is normal cat behavior (depending on how your cat was raised and weened).
As cat owners, none of you should be worried about this behavior unless your cat is exhibiting other behaviors that cats don’t normally exhibit. ex: your cat refusing to eat, having trouble keeping food down, having numerous accidents after eating, or yowling after finishing a meal.
If your cat shows any of these concerning behaviors then please seek veterinary advice immediately! Otherwise, just enjoy the read and enjoy being a cat parent!
Your Cat Is A Social Eater
Many cats.. well, not many, but a fair number of cats, had pet parents spoon feed them. This often happens whenever a kitten is abandoned or something happens to their mother.
If a kitten loses its mother then it will (hopefully) get into foster care. Without its mother, a young kitten needs to be “spoon fed” (actually fed by a bottle, but you get the idea).
Another reason your feline friend might be a social eater is because they grew up around other cats. Whether it was their littermates or otherwise, they got used to sharing their food bowl with other animals. Social eaters are nothing to be worried about!
"Affection Eating" Makes Your Cat Happy
A vast majority of the general public, including some cat owners out there, think that cats are just these unaffectionate creatures that do their own thing and don’t really care about their pet owners.
This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Cats love being around their owners and they love spending time with them! Your feline friend cares about you A LOT more than you may realize.
Your cat loves you. You take care of her, provide her shelter, feed her, play with her, and show her tons of affection.
She now associates that affection with eating. As a result, ‘Affection Eating’ is now her new way to eat. Being in the same room as your cat, sitting or standing right there next to your cat’s food bowl while she’s eating oftentimes make her extremely happy.
If you have a cat that’s one of those affectionate eaters then think of it as a compliment that you’ve been invited to watch your cat eat!
Your Cat Thinks You're Guarding Her While She Eats
Domesticated housecats haven’t always been, well, housecats. The housecats that we know today have got some wild, non-domestic roots.
Even though this was hundreds or even thousands of years back, some of these wild habits are still ingrained into their DNA. Harboring these past wild tendencies is especially true for cats that came from a feral family or for cats that were stray for a while.
In the wild, cats are at one of their most vulnerable moments whenever they’re eating.
Sometimes, eating alone is just a habit cats can’t seem to shake. Many cat owners find this annoying BUT you should take it as a compliment!
Feeling safe is very important to your cat and you make them feel safe whenever you’re nearby.
Eating With You Watching Has Become A Habit
Cats are creatures of habit. You may not notice it, but your cat’s day is often going to be structured around you and/or the people that live in your home.
Side note: This is why it’s important to feed your cat(s) at the same times every day.
It’s possible that you may have fed your kitty and hung around while they ate. You’ve done this a few times without even being aware of what you were doing.
Maybe you fed them and opened up your mail. Or maybe you opened up a can of wet food for them and then did the dishes in the same room.
Either way, some (likely inadvertent) behavior on your part could have triggered your cat starting a routine whereby they only eat when you’re in the room with them.
FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out
“Why does my cat want me to watch her eat?” Your cat may want you to watch her eat because she’s got a Fear Of Missing Out and doesn’t want to be away from any action with her beloved owner.
Cats are very perceptive creatures and they love watching, listening, and even smelling all of the different things that their owners are doing.
If your cat’s food bowls are in low-traffic areas of your home, then this means they’re going to miss out on hanging out with you or watching you from afar because they have to eat.
BUT, if you’re standing right there while she eats then she knows she won’t miss out on anything!
Your Cat's Health Is Going Downhill
This is likely not the case for just about anyone reading this article. So please don’t start freaking out until you’ve looked at the symptoms below.
The only reason I want to mention it is because we might have that one reader out there who is struggling to identify the signs of their cat’s declining health.
Here are a few things to look out for. If your cat is exhibiting any of the following behaviors then please call your vet IMMEDIATELY. The list below goes way beyond “My cats want me to watch them eat.”
Loss Of Appetite
Cats need a lot of animal-based proteins. A sudden loss of appetite is cause for concern.
Now, it’s important to note that it’s not uncommon when a cat refuses to eat a type of food that they’ve previously enjoyed. Sometimes cats just stop liking the food you regularly feed them.
But if your cat just will not eat at all, even their favorite food or a tasty treat, then it’s time to give the vet a call. Cats enjoy feeding time and if all of a sudden cats stop eating then there could be something wrong.
If your cat tries to eat but then vomits her food up regularly, this is also cause for concern.
It’s normal for cats to cough up hairballs, or vomit something up every so often. But vomiting regularly is something to worry about. If your cat is vomiting bile then you need to close this webpage down and seek veterinary guidance IMMEDIATELY.
Has It Been 24-48 Hours Since They've Eaten?
If your cat hasn’t had a single bite of food in the last 24-48 hours then you should start worrying. Cats may be picky if they want a different type of food, but eventually they will eat something.
If your cat has gone a day or two without touching any of their food, then it’s time to call a vet and see how to get them to start eating again.
What To Do If Your Cat Won't Eat Without You Watching Her
If you’re worried about a cat that won’t eat without their owners watching them then we’ve got a few tips that you can try.
I know we’ve mentioned this a lot, but if your cat still won’t eat or if you’ve got ANY doubts at all, then please call your vet.
Get More Food Bowls
One simple fix is to get more food bowls and strategically place them throughout the house in areas that you typically frequent.
If your cat knows they’ve got a choice of where they can eat, then they might not be so picky about having you nearby when it’s feeding time!
If you have one cat then having at least two food bowls is a good idea.
Move Their Current Food Bowl(s)
Another good idea is to take their food bowl (or bowls) and put them in parts of the house that have higher traffic.
This is great for those FOMO cats we talked about above. If they know they’ll be eating in areas where people frequent then they won’t be so concerned about having someone watch them eat!
Keep Food & Water Bowls Separate
Remember, cats are not dogs. You dog doesn’t care where their food and water bowls are. This isn’t true for cats.
Your cat’s food bowl should ALWAYS be placed away from their water bowls.
Remember those wild instincts we talked about earlier and how domesticated cats still have those old tendencies encoded into their genes? This is why they want the bowls separate!
Wild cats would kill an animal to eat it. If that animal is left out for a day or two it will start to go bad and contaminate its surroundings. Your cat associates their food with dead animals. If their water is nearby then they may be concerned about their water source getting contaminated.
If you have one cat then you should have two water bowls. Two cats should have three water bowls.
Make Your Cat Feel Safe
Finally, make your cat feel safe and secure. Cats feel vulnerable for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a learned behavior, other times they’re just worried about or startled by something.
“Okay, well, I provide my cat with everything she needs, how do I make her feel safe?”
You start by trying to identify what is bothering or distracting her. Something out there may be making her feel scared or threatened and you need to identify just what exactly is causing this.
Have you introduced any new pets into the household? Maybe you just had a new baby? What about moving to a new place? Were there any recent loud noises? Even something as simple as moving some furniture around can cause your cat to stress and be anxious.
When your cat’s anxiety goes up then their behaviors can and will change, this includes their eating behaviors.
Identify the problem and she will likely start eating like normal again in now time. Try and surround her with familiar scents, such as a favorite blanket or even clothes that smell like you. Pet her, talk to her, help her calm down until she’s eating like normal again.