Why does Sphinx the cat suddenly want people food?
September 8, 2007 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Our 5 year old cat has developed a sudden interest in "people food". He's a very healthy, neutered male that we adopted at age 2, so we don't have a full background on him. He's always sniffed people food and then turned away from it, but the past 3 days or so he's expressed a meow-y interest in whatever we're eating, especially if it's bready or cracker-y or otherwise carb-like. His own eating habits (his cat food) haven't changed or slacked off, and his water intake and litter box habits are normal. He's due for a yearly checkup this weekend and we're planning on asking the vet about it, but I'd appreciate any insight between now and then.
posted by ersatzkat to Pets & Animals (24 answers total)
Cats' preferences can change in a heartbeat. Just as quickly as he's shown interest in those foods, he'll probably go right back to not giving a damn. I wouldn't worry about it, especially if he's in good health and everything else in his life (eating, drinking, using the box) hasn't been disrupted.
posted by puritycontrol at 4:57 PM on September 8, 2007

perfectly normal, my kitty loves fish and poultry, including raw poultry. suspect part of it is because i'm eating it and she knows she'll get foodscraps and random pets if she comes up and meows during dinner.
posted by bruce at 5:00 PM on September 8, 2007

That doesn't sound abnormal; one of my cats has always had a yen for peanut butter cereal (!), and my family's first cat always enjoyed matzoh.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:10 PM on September 8, 2007

Maybe somehow managed to get a taste and decided it likes it, so anytime it smells something similar it wants some.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:26 PM on September 8, 2007

My [well-fed] kitten begs for pretty much all people food like a dog. He'll actually eat a lot of it, too. Weird, but we just figured that was his personality...
posted by infinityjinx at 5:34 PM on September 8, 2007

as stated, don't worry about it...

Two of our cats will sit with us at dinner in hopes of getting a bite or two... the other three look at them like they are crazy....

The biggest danger is that, if you start to feed them bits of nice things, they could become meowing monsters around the table begging for scraps...
posted by HuronBob at 5:39 PM on September 8, 2007

It may not be about begging. Our cats often come up to the dinner table and meow, but mostly for attention, petting, or maybe a lap to hop up on.
posted by advicepig at 6:12 PM on September 8, 2007

We used to have a cat who couldn't get enough Special K cereal. (?!) I don't even know how he got a taste of it in the first place, but it got to the point where he'd open the cupboard and knock the box over so some cereal spilled out and then nosh away. My mom put a big rubber band around the box to keep it closed, and he simply gnawed a hole through the front of the box.

As long as your boy is healthy in other respects, I wouldn't worry. Although he could get spoiled and start turning up his nose at his cat food and insisting on whatever you're having for dinner every day....
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:37 PM on September 8, 2007

Just don't feed him anything with onion, and you'll be good. (Poisonous to cats, wouldn't y'know. Found that out when researching what my friends' kitty shouldn't be around while I was cat-sitting her.)
posted by limeonaire at 6:39 PM on September 8, 2007

One of our cats has a love affair with bread. I can't figure it out because it's nothing he should want, but if we leave a loaf out in the open he'll chew through the bag and eat the bread. He's also started to go for tortillas, pitas, and crackers. It's so weird.

Another one of our cats never cared about people food until she got a little morsel of raw chicken. From that moment on she begged shamelssly whenever I cooked.

I agree that if he's otherwise healthy, he's fine.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:02 PM on September 8, 2007

I think there is definitely something to the "once they get a taste..." theory. Our cats have no interest in people food, except for one who once was on a chicken-and-rice diet for a while, and now jumps up on the table anytime we have poultry.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:28 PM on September 8, 2007

my sister's cat likes corn and lettuce. you'd think it's because of the butter/dressing, but we give it to her before any of that touches it. she begs for them whenever she smells them...
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:41 PM on September 8, 2007

My darling old man cat (13) has been a pop-corn addict his whole kitty life. It started as a wee kitten and he found himself halfway through a bag of popcorn and was compelled to eat his way out. Since then, the mighty old mancat has progressed to taking chips right out of your hand and demanding his cut of the fritoes.

Cats are naught but furry little tyrants. Loving, cute, sweet faced, but tyrants non-the-less.

Short answer? Cats eat wierd shit.
posted by teleri025 at 8:01 PM on September 8, 2007

My roommate's cat changes her food preferences all the time. She will go with one cat food for a while, then turn her nose up at it, so we'll have to switch. But if I'm eating pretzels, particularly pretzel-flavored goldfish crackers, she will practically climb up onto my chest to get at them. If we give her one, she will eat most of it and lick her chops for like 15 minutes. So odd. She also really, really likes hamburgers and will freak out if any of us are eating one, but does not react to any other beef.

And my cat? He likes El Pollo Loco. Like, a whole lot. All other chicken? Not so much.

So - don't worry too much. Cats are friggin' nuts. Ask the vet, but it's probably nothing to worry about.
posted by bedhead at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2007

I grew up with 2 cats who loved people food, and my mom was all too happy to oblige. As a treat, she'd get the 2 cats and the dog to split a cheeseburger happy meal from McDonalds - one cat loved the meat and cheese, the other went nuts for the fries. The dog got the bun, just because she couldn't be left out of anything. Now however - their new cat won't even look at people food. My mom's tried everything - everything that cats should like (butter, cheese, meat of every variety) as well as just about everything else she can think of, but the silly cat won't touch anything but her kibble the crap out of can.

Cats are just weird. Gotta love 'em.
posted by cgg at 9:25 PM on September 8, 2007

My cat loves pepperoni.
posted by kindall at 9:28 PM on September 8, 2007

Except for the odd cheese-lover, all our cats despise people food. I always thought it was because they are mostly abandoned strays, and associate people food with the garbage they had to live on for weeks or months.

But the 'cats are totally nuts' theory has a lot to recommend it, since it is consistant with all the other totally nuts things cats do.
posted by hexatron at 9:33 PM on September 8, 2007

And here I thought abandoned strays were more likely to love people food. My friend's stray cat eats Taco Bell.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:59 PM on September 8, 2007

i had a cat who loves lettuce, and another who loved cheese. adored cheese. above meat, cat food, dead animals, everything. so, cats are people, too, i guess. :)

my bet is that part of the attraction to the crackers is the crunch. also, you are eating them, and your kitty loves you.

i suppose it's worth asking your vet if kitty might be diabetic and craving more carbs, but odds are good that it's just a harmless phase.
posted by thinkingwoman at 11:49 PM on September 8, 2007

Our one cat loves Doritos, Cheezy Poofs, bread, muffins anything carby but especially if has salt on it. He really gets into the crunching, so perhaps that's what your cat is attracted to. We let him have one or two chips once in a while, and the bread has to be locked away. The other cat, however, dislikes human food and refuses it all (except for tuna).

And, for a total derail, my dog will not eat anything from McDonald's. I bought her a cheeseburger the other day and she refused to even lick it. Smart dog.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 12:13 AM on September 9, 2007

One of my cats who had never had canned food in his life used to come screaming into the kitchen begging when I ran the can opener. Another cat I adopted as a young adult came pre-programmed to freak out for tortillas, and then about a year later looked at me like I was an idiot for offering her some, and hasn't wanted them in 10 years.

We don't think of cats as having great noses, but they're better than ours. Every once in a while they decide that something they smell is a must-have. It's unlikely to be a nutritional deficiency, if that's your concern; I think some cats just realize one day that we're not eating Friskies too and get interested.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:40 AM on September 9, 2007

Nothing much more to add, except that we once had a cat that jumped up on the dinner table and stole a brussel sprout, which she took to her lair and devoured.

Cats are indeed weird.
posted by Daddio at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2007

It's amazing how few people actually try and answer cat questions on AskMe....it isn't a question of "what people food does your cat eat" but rather, is there cause for concern if the cat changes it's food preferences suddenly?

I would be interested in what the vet said, if possible.
posted by agregoli at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks agregoli - we got an earlier appointment with the vet, who did the regular exam and took some blood. He said the bloodwork looked fine. I asked him what he was looking for - what might be the root cause of a cat whose eating habits suddenly change. He said for an older and/or heavier cat, he would suspect diabetes immediately. He didn't think that was the case with Sphinx, but checked it out anyway since I was so concered. According to the vet, Sphinx = picture of health. Thanks for your concern.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:45 PM on September 11, 2007

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