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So, almost daily, my cat looks at me as if he's been starving for 25 days straight (but it's actually been hours at most), looking at me with huge eyes, making a pathetic "meow" sound to really make me feel sorry for him and give him fresh, high-quality food which he appears very excited about.

Then he eats two bites and goes away.

This happens again and again. You can never tell when he's just "begging for fun" or truly is hungry.

Why would a cat beg for food like this when he's clearly not hungry?

Please don't respond with "cats are just jerks" because that doesn't explain anything. I don't think my cat is "evil". He must have a reason for this.

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Assuming he's in good health, it could be any number of things.

  • He's bored. Begging is something to do.
  • He wants attention, and this is his way of getting it.
  • He doesn't like the particular food (smell, flavor, texture, appearance). Cats are definitely not evil :), but they are famously persnickety.
  • He doesn't like the dish, or its location.
  • Depending on his history, maybe he's had experiences in the past with not getting enough food, and he's anxious even though he has no reason to be now.
  • There are probably more...

Things you could try (this is just an idea dump, obviously ignore anything you've already tried):

  • Does he have a variety of toys, a scratching post, places to perch to look out of windows? Try rotating his toys for more variety - put some of them out, and put the rest away. After a few days or so, put some away and set out a few different ones. He'll feel like he always has something new to play with.
  • Try giving him more attention if possible (I realize we're all busy). Try giving him attention when he's not asking for it - if he associates attention with pestering, guess what you'll get more of...
  • Give him different kinds of attention: petting, brushing, snuggling, playing. Talk to him and give him some quick head scratches as you're doing other things (I like this one since I can get things done and have kitty time, at once).
  • Try different kinds of cat food. Different brands, different flavors / textures (pate, shredded) / etc. One thing I've found with mine is he's happiest when he has kibble and canned food at the same time. He'll eat a bit of each, go back and forth. He's not happy when he only has one or the other.
  • Try moving his food dish a few feet away from his water dish. I read somewhere that cats don't like them side by side. I don't know for sure if that's true, but it can't hurt to try.
  • Don't have his food and water anywhere near his litter box. (Most people don't, just putting it here for the sake of it.)
  • Get him some food puzzle toys to eat from - make eating more like hunting, which will help satisfy his instinct, give him something stimulating to do, and he'll get some exercise. My vet told me about things Catit makes. There might be other brands, but this is what I know about. Digger toys (one, two), food tree - browse their site for more. I have a few of the multi-feeders, which I hide around my apartment in different places. My vet also recommended these adorable feeder mice which are even easier to move around and hide. (All of these will have to be washed every single day, since plastic can harbor bacteria more easily than ceramic, metal, or glass. If he takes to them, order a few more so you can rotate. They're for kibble, and it's easiest if you can wash yesterday's after you've put out today's. Plus you can't put dry kibble in damp feeders...)
  • If you're using regular dishes, try different shapes - larger, smaller, shallower, slanted (the slant helps the food not get pushed to the back of the dish, where apparently it becomes invisible ;) )... Shallower is better than deeper - cats don't like putting their heads into small, deep bowls; it annoys their whiskers.
  • If you think he's nervous, try seeing what happens if he always has food available, rather than feeding him only at certain times. Of course this runs the risk of obesity problems, so it's last on the list.

Good luck! Honestly even with trying a number of these things myself, my cats are still picky and hard to feed...

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Is s/he eating enough through the day? If not, there could be a problem in his/her mouth or gullet that makes it painful to eat. If s/he isn't eating well, then this is a medical emergency and you should book a vets' appointment ASAP

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