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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16214
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Weve had our cats approx 7 years (mum and son), theyve never

Customer Question

We've had our cats approx 7 years (mum and son), they've never really been very naughty but for the last 2 months mum cat has been jumping on to the work tops and stealing food and now she's started raiding the bin. Son cat has a sensitive stomach and can't eat wet cat food so they've been fed complete dry cat food, food is down permanently and also water, why is she suddenly being so naughty?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

 

In regards to the mother cat's change in behavior towards food, we have to ask ourselves:

 

Does she appear hungrier then usual?

Or is her son stealing her food and leaving her to scavenge?

 

Any signs of weight loss with mum?

 

Any increase in her thirst, urination, or fecal production?

Any diarrhea?

 

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

She's always been a very slim/scrawny cat, there's food down all the time. She will only go to the toilet in the litter tray and all seems fine there. She has problems with over grooming causing her bottom half to loose all it's fur but this seems a lot better than normal as she does have a complete covering of fur all over (maybe not quite as thick as it should be).

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you,

The reason why I asked about changes in her food intake, food availability, and associated body functions is because this new habit tells us that something has changed for her (even if we cannot appreciate it). While some cats with stray histories will scavenge out of habit, we'd expect them to do so from day one and not to suddenly start to behave in this manner.

Now while we could discuss techniques for keeping cats off counters (ie putting things away, Scat Mats, automatic sprayers, aluminium foil, double sided tape or even invert a plastic office mat (example) with the prongs pointing up, etc), I suspect our problem is less about behaviour and more about her health. Therefore, if you are sure the son is just the same and not depriving mum of food at the kibble dish, then we hopefully can rule out an issue with him and focus on what issue is prompting this in mum herself. In that case, we have to ask ourselves what would cause an increased need for her to look for food all of sudden. An increased hunger (aka polyphagia) is associated with a range of health conditions and notably we'd need to consider is worms (if she does go outside and has never been wormed, but also diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and even some cancer types (which can often siphon nutrition from cats with little other sign of excessive hunger).

In this situation, counter deterrents and preventing her from getting in the bin will be helpful for you peace of mind. But for her we'd want to consider a check-up with her vet. If she is due for a booster soon, it'd be worth moving that appointment up and just having the vet check her at the same time. They'd be able to have a feel of her and just make sure there are no sinister lumps and bumps present in her abdomen, that the liver/kidneys feel normal, that her weight isn't in decline, and just make sure there are not any overt disease signs. From there, it would be ideal to have your vet check a blood sample. This would be the most straightforward means of detecting which of the above issues might be at the root of her signs. If you weren't keen to have her checked or just wanted to make sure diabetes wasn't afoot, a urine sample could be submitted to her vet to just rule that out for us.

Overall, when a cat suddenly starts scavenging for food, it is usually a sign that something internally is suddenly causing excessive hunger instead of inducing improper behaviour. Therefore, if you haven't wormed her recently, you might want to consider doing so now. Further to this, we'd want to consider using the aforementioned counter deterrents but also consider ruling out those health issues that could drive a cat to suddenly behaviour in this manner.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

If it's just because she's more hungry though why would she just not eat more food out of her bowl?

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hi again,

We do often see them cleaning the food bowl out as well, but as you noted that mother cat isn't allowed alternative foods do to her son's condition. Therefore, we cannot rule out polyphagia leading to scavenging if she doesn't like the kibble as much as what she can get elsewhere. We do see cats become fussy with diets anyway, but if she is excessively hungry and only tolerates the dry at the best of times then this would still drive her to go elsewhere and perhaps only settle for dry food when needs must. That said, if she is leaving the dry food, then we'd also have to consider that her behavior may be triggered by a recent aversion to the kibble diet. Therefore, we'd want to monitor her kibble intake or perhaps even consider giving her wet food on her own to see if this affects the behavior and scavenging.

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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