Cats are often viewed as solitary, independent creatures, but some enjoy the company of their owners, even during mealtimes. If your cat likes when you watch them eat, you’re not alone. This is known as “affection eating”, and it’s far more common than you may realize.
There are a few reasons affection eating may occur, including instinct and protection. Find out more about why your cat may enjoy it when you watch them eat.
The 4 Reasons Why Cats Like Being Watched While Eating
1. Social Instinct
Cats are unique in that they have some solitary behaviors and some social behaviors. As much as they often hunt alone and claim and defend territory, they can live in groups and bond with other cats, including grooming and sleeping together.
Some wild cats engage in communal eating and bring prey back to the group. When you watch your cat eat, it could be sharing a similar social experience.
2. Safety and Security
Cats are vulnerable while they’re eating. In the wild, cats are both predators and prey and the time they’re focused on their meal—especially in the open area—could be an opportunity for another predator to pounce. Having other cats around to watch for predators allows one cat to focus on food, which is the security you can provide as an owner.
You may notice that anxious or timid cats prefer to have you standing by while they eat. This gives them comfort and protection, especially if they share your home with other cats or dogs.
3. Ingrained Habits
As kittens, cats are doted upon by their mothers and owners. People who have breeding cats will often assist kittens in eating or syringe feed. Once these kittens become adults, they’re used to meal times being a social experience and expect you to be watching them or giving them attention.
4. Fear of Missing Out
Cats are curious creatures and often want to know what’s happening in the house. If your cat is eating while you’re going about your day, they could fear missing out on something fun that’s happening while they’re eating. If you’re watching them, they know you’re not having a good time without them.
Is It Okay to Watch My Cat Eat?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching your cat eat if that makes the experience better for them, but keep in mind that this is a tough routine to keep up. If your cat gets used to being watched while they eat, you’re too busy or need to go away, your cat may not feel comfortable eating without you.
It’s best to encourage your cat to eat independently and feel secure. Spend time with your cat outside of mealtime by playing, exercising, or cuddling. If you suspect that your cat feels fearful of eating alone, such as with other cats or dogs around, try to find a more secure spot where your cat can feel safe eating.
Cats wanting to be watched while eating is a curious behavior, but it’s rooted in instincts and their bond with humans. While there’s nothing wrong with helping your cat enjoy mealtime by watching, it’s important to encourage more independence to ensure your cat won’t go off food if you’re busy or not around to stand guard.