Oliver is our three year old cat. He was rescued at about eight weeks old. He has grown to become a happy, healthy and very playful adult cat. However, he has one odd behavior that we don’t understand. Before he approaches his food bowls, he will meow at whatever family member is nearby to come and stand next to him while he eats. Sometimes while he is eating, he’ll look up to make sure the person is still there and can be reassured with a little pet. If the person is otherwise preoccupied, he’ll just sit there and meow until they come. This behavior isn’t really an inconvenience, rather, we find it kind of amusing. We are just curious why he behaves this way. My daughter’s theory is that he wants someone to “watch his back” while he’s eating.
– Sandy, Seaford, New York
Your daughter’s theory is likely correct. Cats are always on the lookout for danger, falling asleep throughout the day, but always ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. When they are eating, they are vulnerable, so Oliver is simply asking your family to “watch his back,” as you say.
Most cats, however, don’t refuse to eat unless a family member is around. But when a cat can communicate his wishes and get his family to comply, I consider the cat highly-intelligent and the family highly-intuitive. I love that your family responds to him and stands with him while he eats. Oliver’s very lucky to have such a loving and perceptive family.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal