Cats Demanding Breakfast Too Early

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Cats begging for food

May 2013

I have 2 9-year-old cats. I also have 2 kids (4 and 1). I grew up with cats and they've always just sort of grazed on dry food throughout the day. On my vet's recommendation I recently tried to switch them to wet food. I didn't know that many cats die of renal failure from chronic dehydration. So I tried to make the switch but my cats are so bananas for the wet food that they're driving me crazy! Being woken up by begging cats at 4am when I have 2 small kids? Are you f*&^ing kidding me?! So my question is: Can you train cats to wait for their food? I've tried giving them dry food to tide them over, but they turn their privileged American house cat noses up at it now! Advice?

Slave to 2 kids and 2 cats

My cat was doing the same thing, I would feed her in the morning and in the evening. I live in a one bedroom, my daughter has the bedroom and I have the living room, so there is no way for me to close my cat out of my bedroom. I quit the soft food for awhile, a couple months, I just gave her some hard treats throughout the day, it satisfied that expectation she had to get something, but she didn't get all cracked out on like the soft food. I just needed to change her habits of expectation times. Now I give her soft food again but only once a day, I give her one small can in the evening when I get home. Cats are funny, they break old habits and develop new ones pretty quickly. She got used to the new routine in no time. Sometimes in the morning she will beg and cry for something, she doesn't even really know what, so I will give her a couple treats and she moves on, but the days of violently waking me up at 4am are over! And yes, she always has a bowl of hard food out so I know she's not hungry. One other note, cats sometimes don't drink enough water, hence the dehydration. Cats like to drink water from strange places, I keep a coffee cup of water on my windowsill in my bathroom, sometimes I move it to the tub, she thinks it's fun and she drinks tons of it. Hope that helps! Good luck Best, Nicole

My mother-in-law sent me a great book for mother's day, called "Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to do What You Want" by Wendy Christiansen. She has lots of techniques and strategies for problems like this. Fran

I wonder if it's the quality of food that you are feeding them. I think some companies might use additives and flavorings to make their food addictive similar to junk food for humans. Have you tried a high quality premium food? Joan

We had the same problem with our 2 cats. Almost every morning, before 5 a.m., they would start to cry and meow for their food. It was to the point that I would get up and feed them, and then go back to bed. But then they were starting earlier and earlier. So about 2 months ago, we started feeding them the wet food (they always have dry food out) at night, right before we went to bed. They now start to meow for it and follow me around the house after we eat, but this is much less bothersome than while we are sleeping the the morning. Hope this helps Kitty

We leave a constant supply of dry food and only feed them wet food at night, usually around 5:30-6:30pm. They sort of know the routine so they don't beg for food till then. Anon

We used to have this problem. My veterinarian sister gave me the solution. Get automatic timer bowls- some come with a freezer insert for wet food. Set them to go off for some time before the cat usually starts to pester you. In the cat's mind, you are no longer the boss of the food, so there is no point in bugging you. We had a VERY food-motivated cat, and it stopped the annoying behavior right away. Be sure one cat doesn't try to hog all the food. We had to wire a crate to open only a tiny bit so our little cat could slip through to eat, but the big cat couldn't get in. (He had his own, separate dish)

Not a fan of 4am wakeups


The flip side of wet food is that it can give cats plaque on their teeth which is not so good either. I have two cats that I give a big spoonful of wet food twice a day. In the morning and at night. Since my cats go outside they will come back as soon as I open a can which is very handy! The rest of the time there is big bowl of dry food they can graze on like you mentioned.

I would try giving them a little twice a day to see if you can re-train them. You might have to listen to some complaining for a while.

good luck! cat person