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Cat food is costly and I really can't afford huge wastage of food. But the situation is becoming more and more unmanageable for me as the days progress.

If I don't free feed my cat, she will continue to always bother me for food. When given food she will eat very little. After I put back the remaining food in container and start working or go to sleep she will beg for food again in a very short time.

If I let her free feed and leave food in her bowl, after a few hours I notice that she has eaten very little and mostly has been playing soccer with her food. There is food lying on the floor all over the house. After playing with one food bit most of the time she doesn't even bother to eat it and instead goes to fetch another food bit.

Now I have to clean the entire house of cat food littered here and there. I end up collecting a significant amount of cat food which I have to throw into dustbin.

I find this behavior of my cat really bad. There are lots of street cats who don't get enough to eat and go hungry. And my cat is wasting large amount of food everyday.

So how to modify this behavior of my cat so that after playing she at least eats her food bit before fetching another one?

  • Do you play with your cat? And what toys except her food does she have available? – Layna Mar 13 '18 at 6:41
  • It's all my fault, but my cat's favorite toys are my hands and legs. And my limbs bleed daily as a result. Other than it my cat has toy mouse, puzzle ball board, ball with mobile sound device inside, scratching post. And I play with her using bird hanging from thread teaser and laser pointer. Also other family member plays with her as well. – Sonevol Mar 13 '18 at 7:12
  • Is she losing weight? If not, she is almost certainly eating enough and you should cut down the amount you put out for her. – ColeValleyGirl Mar 13 '18 at 10:24
  • @ColeValleyGirl But in that case she will keep begging for food, not to eat but to play with – Sonevol Mar 13 '18 at 11:29
  • Put down the amount of food for the day, and then strictly ignore her when she begs -- she'll learn. Are you feeding wet or dry -- it sounds like dry if she's playing with it. – ColeValleyGirl Mar 13 '18 at 11:39
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If she's playing soccer, it seems like you're feeding dry food. If that's the case, and if this behavior bothers you, then the best thing to do is end the behavior.

To do this, you'll have to commit to a feeding schedule for your cat. Then you'll have to do what is called behavior extinction. This is where you completely ignore a behavior and when it doesn't get the desired for reaction, it goes away.

Here is an example. My cat growing up was a butt. He'd want someone to wake up in the middle of the night, and walk with him to the food bowl, because he didn't want to go check it, find out it was empty, and have to walk all the way back to get someone. He tried it on my and I ignored him. Then he'd jump up and meow in my face. Then when I kept ignoring him, he'd bite me, then start licking me. He tried to say he was just grooming me and I happened to wake up, so since he was doing me a favor, I should follow him to his food bowl. Instead I dropped a pillow on him and said, "Oops, I didn't see you there. I thought it was a bug." Eventually he stopped bothering me. He'd test me occasionally, but even that quite happening. On the other hand, my father would come in from a 14hr shift, go to bed, and then get up 2hrs later when the cat meowed. The cat looked under the couch like his tinkle ball was stuck and my dad is stumbling around trying to get down and look under the couch. He runs all around the couch looking under it and then turns to the cat and says, "Sorry, I can't find it." The cat stands up and he was sitting on it the whole time. I reiterate, cats are butts.

The point is, I completely and consistently ignored that behavior, because I knew it wasn't necessary for him to not see a dime sized patch of white at the bottom of his food bowl. He still wakes up my father for stupid things and my father still gets up.

So if you completely ignore the whining and meowing, it'll eventually go away. Your cat will eat when food is provided and it won't be available for play. Having said that, you should make sure there are appropriate toys for play. Those tinkle balls with the slots are great for "soccer". They can pick them up in their mouth and move them around. I'd leave some of those out and then try and play with her more.

It'll be very aggravating and it will probably escalate before it peters out. Like I said, mine tried to bite me when I ignored him. Something like dropping an accent pillow on your cat won't hurt them, but it'll shock them and deter them from nipping. Another good avenue is if they get too aggravating, drop a blanket on them for a minute. They can occupy their mind with finding their way out instead of meowing for something they don't need. A lot of times cats just want options available. They aren't hungry, but they want food down. They don't want outside or in the bathroom, but they want the door open. Good luck and I hope this helps.

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