Cats who show impatience at feeding time or beg for food at their owner’s table could be suffering from mental illness, a study has found.
Although owners may find it adorable when their cat is meowing by its bowl, a group of veterinarians claim it is in fact a sign of a severe eating disorder.
They claim that cats that are too eager to be fed may well need psychological treatment as well as their dinner.
The study was made by veterinary researchers at the University of Padua in Italy and concluded that a cat’s gentle ankle stroke at lunchtime is not a sign of affection, but a symptom called ‘excessive solicitation of inter-specific interactions’ which indicates that the cat suffers from a new form of eating disorder.
The condition has been named Psychogenic Abnormal Feeding Behavior and was a result of the Italian study which was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
Symptoms include stealing food from other cats and jumping on its owner’s table to eat from plates.
If you think you cat may be suffering from PAFB the study advices to introduce strict rules for feeding times, ban begging and ensure that your cat cannot watch you eat.
As the animal’s behavior improves they may be slowly re-introduced to its owner having food, but should never be fed from your plate
Paolo Mongillo who led the study, said: ‘Unless the cat is really obnoxious, most owners probably won’t complain.’
He added that, just like humans, animals could become victims of eating disorders if they are subjected stress.
For their research the researchers studies a young Siamese cat with behavioral problems related to food.
The cat would jump on its owners as they prepared its meal and try to eat from the tin, as well as stealing food from another cat.
As the researchers were unable to find a medical explanation for the behavior, they concluded that it was a psychological problem.
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