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For purely selfish reasons I like to pet my ~10 wk old kitten while she's eating. I mean, she's really soft, and she just lets me give her the attention while she purrs and eats. How could I not??

Anyways, in all seriousness, is this OK or could she develop some sort of eating disorder or bad eating behavior from it?

Starting about a week and a half ago I feed her twice a day at specific times (rather than leaving the food out) and she is fine with this.

She does always run to start eating when I'm standing next to the food bowl, even if she was previously uninterested in the food, which I'm assuming is a result of me petting her but it seems harmless... I think.

There is an adult cat in the house as well who likes to eat her food, which could contribute to why she is excited to eat when I'm nearby (since I always stop him from stealing her food).

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Does she eat when you aren't standing near the food bowl? Or if you walk away, will she continue eating? I would worry only slightly if she won't eat without you there, because she will at some point have to learn to define her boundaries so that the older cat doesn't eat all of her food...but I think they'll work that out. (I think.)

It doesn't seem, to me, like you're doing anything wrong or causing any problems. But you might want to make sure to step away and stop petting her at least half of the time, just so that it doesn't become a thing that she has to have, to eat.

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She does continue eating when I walk away. When I'm not watching, I'm not sure. I assume she is although the other cat is sneaky. When the other cat is being particularly naughty with food I put the kitten in her room and close the door for a while. I know she is eating then, unless I have a third cat I don't know about. –  Jason C Jul 13 at 1:47

It entirely depends on what happens. If she enjoys it and continues to eat I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

If one of my cats is not eating normally (for instance, the cat is sick and not feeling great) sometimes I find that gently petting it can help. At other times it can "distract" the cat from eating (which is only good if you want to stop it from eating, say it's stealing another cat's food, eating too fast, or already had its share...).

My "kitten" sometimes prefers being a lap cat and being hugged and petted to eating - so I've worked out a deal with her. I hug and pet her for a while and then put her near her food. She eats some and then she can get back into my lap and get more attention. I keep the cycle going until the food is gone (then if she wants she can stay in my lap).

I'd agree with Leigh that if she "depends" on you petting her to eat that's not such a great thing, but you can be the judge of that.

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