Why Does My Cat Like Human Food?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

This common scenario leaves many cat owners pondering, “Why does my cat like human food?” The answer to this quirky feline behavior lies within a complex interplay of factors.

When your cat sidles up to your plate with those big, pleading eyes, it’s hard to resist the temptation to share a morsel of your meal. Many cat owners are familiar with this behavior but might find themselves at a loss as to why their feline friend is so interested in what’s on their human’s plate. “Why Does My Cat Like Human Food?” is more than a cute quirk of our furry companions; it’s a question that taps into the very nature of feline behavior and nutrition. From evolutionary explanations to the simple lure of something different, understanding why our cats reach for our food can enlighten us on how to best feed them and strengthen the bond we share. Join us as we take a closer look into the feline mind and stomach, unraveling the mystery behind our cats’ fascination with human food.

Why Does My Cat Like Human Food?

Cats may be drawn to human food for a variety of reasons:

Flavor and Texture: Human foods tend to be richer and more varied in flavor and texture than cat food, which can be irresistible to a cat’s curious palate.

Curiosity: Cats are naturally curious animals and often want to try anything that their human is eating.

Attention Seeking: Sometimes cats stealing food to gain attention from their owners, associating it with social interaction.

Mimicking Behavior: Cats may see their owners eating and want to mimic the behavior, as they learn by observing.

Improper Nutrition: If a cat’s diet lacks certain nutrients, they may be instinctively driven to seek out those nutrients elsewhere, including in human food.

Addictiveness of Certain Foods: Some human foods contain high levels of fat and sugar, which can be addictive for cats just as they are for humans.

Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat Human Food?

Neither Bubba or Charlie have a taste for human food, but … | Flickr

While it’s tempting to share your snacks with your feline friend, not all human food is safe for cats. Some foods, like chocolate, onions, and garlic, are toxic to cats and can cause serious health issues. Moreover, feeding your cat a steady diet of human food can lead to nutrient imbalances and weight gain. 

If you choose to give your cat a taste of human food, it’s essential to know which foods are safe in moderation. Here’s a list of human foods that are generally considered safe for cats:

  • Cooked Meat: Small amounts of cooked chicken, turkey, or lean beef free from sauces and seasoning can be a tasty treat.
  • Fish: Cooked fish like salmon or tuna can be offered occasionally, but raw fish should be avoided due to potential bacteria and parasites.
  • Cooked Eggs: A bit of cooked egg can provide some protein, but raw eggs are a no-go because of the risk of salmonella.
  • Vegetables: Some cats may enjoy cooked or steamed vegetables such as carrots, peas, or broccoli.
  • Grains: Cooked grains like brown rice or barley can be given in small amounts.
  • Cheese: A tiny piece of cheese can be okay for some cats, but be cautious as many cats are lactose intolerant.

Remember to keep any human food treats small and infrequent to avoid disrupting your cat’s balanced diet and check with a vet if you’re unsure about any food item.

How Can I Discourage My Cat From Begging For Human Food?

To discourage your cat from developing the habit of begging for human food, consider the following strategies:

Stick to a Feeding Schedule: Keeping your cat on a routine feeding schedule with cat food can deter begging habits as they will know when to expect their meals.

Use a Separate Eating Area: Feed your cat in a different room while you eat, which can help break the association between your meal times and theirs.

Don’t Give in to Begging: Consistency is key; avoid giving your cat food from your plate to prevent reinforcing the begging behavior.

Provide a Balanced Diet: Make sure your cat’s diet is complete and balanced to reduce their urge to seek out other food sources.

Interactive Toys and Puzzles: Distract your cat with interactive cat toys or food puzzles during your meal times.

Positive Reinforcement: Reinforce good behavior with cat treats and praise when your cat doesn’t beg for food.

Training: Train your cat with a firm “no” or a subtle spray of water when they beg for food, and reward them when they comply.

Consult a Veterinarian: If the begging persists, consider consulting with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

What Should I Do If My Cat Accidentally Eats Human Food That May Be Toxic?

If you suspect your cat has ingested a potentially toxic human food, it is critical to act quickly and appropriately. First, identify what your cat has eaten and in what quantity. Then, immediately contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Be prepared to provide details about your cat, such as weight, age, the food consumed, and any symptoms. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by a professional. Follow the vet’s instructions precisely and keep calm to avoid stressing your cat further. It is advisable to keep emergency contact numbers easily accessible and to have a pet first aid kit at home to deal with such incidents promptly. Remember, prevention is key, so ensure dangerous foods are safely out of your cat’s reach at all times.

Can I Ever Give My Cat Human Food As A Treat?

While it’s generally recommended to keep your cat on a strict diet of cat food, there are occasions when you might choose to offer your feline a small human food treat. However, this should be done rarely and with caution to ensure it doesn’t disrupt their balanced dietary needs or give them a taste for food that isn’t beneficial to them. Here are some human foods you can offer your cat as an occasional treat:

  • Cooked Meats: Offering a bit of cooked chicken or turkey without any seasoning can be a nice treat. Ensure there are no bones.
  • Fish: A small portion of cooked salmon or tuna can be given on occasion, but ensure it’s boneless and cooked without any harmful oils or seasonings.
  • Cooked Eggs: Mash up a little bit of a cooked egg for a protein-packed snack.
  • Vegetables: Not all cats will go for it, but cooked carrots, peas, or pumpkin (without sugar or spices) can be a healthy snack in small amounts.
  • Grains: A few pieces of cooked pasta or a spoonful of cooked oatmeal can be offered.

Always remember that these treats should not make up a significant portion of your cat’s diet and should only be given occasionally to supplement a complete and balanced diet specifically designed for cats.


In conclusion, feline fascination with human food is rooted in cats’ natural curiosity, their drive for varied and flavorful tastes, and sometimes the social bonding experience they share with their human companions. While it’s essential to indulge this curiosity responsibly and ensure that human food does not harm their health or disrupt their nutritional balance, understanding the ‘why’ behind your cat’s cravings can help you maintain a healthy and happy relationship with your furry friend. Always consult with a veterinarian before introducing new foods into your cat’s diet to keep your beloved pet both satisfied and safe.