Animal Behavior – theft

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Dear Your Own Vet,

I have a behavior question. How do I stop my animals (mostly the cats) stealing food off the table? I can’t leave anything for more than  few seconds and they’re dragging it off. I’ve tried shouting – which didn’t help. I smacked them – they attacked me back. I put them outside, to ignore and isolate them and it didn’t help either. I have thrown things at them so that they get the idea that if they steal something bad will happen etc, but nothing has worked. What shall I do?




How to stop your cat stealing - animal behavior
Cat got your sandwich?

Dear Claire,
What I usually say for dogs is the following:
Firstly, put out some food and lace it with the hottest chilli sauce you can find. When the cat eats it, it will not taste nice and they should stop. You would need to do this a few times.

Hidden balloons pop when they stand on them
Balloons hidden under a cloth near the food pop when they stand on them

Secondly, in front of the food, you put blown up balloons tied with string and cover them with a cloth. If the cat jumps on the balloons, they will pop and give them a fright. You can do the same thing by setting a mouse trap (turn it upside down so no paws get caught) and cover with a cloth. When the trap is touched, it will spring and give the cat a fright. Or you put tins with a few stones inside in front of the food which will rattle and fall when the cat touches them and hopefully will give them a fright.

Use a mousetrap to make a noise
Use a mousetrap upsidedown to snap and make a noise near the food

Thirdly, you can hide and when the cats get on the counter, spray them with a very powerful water spray – a children’s water spray which has power!
Shouting or hitting them will not work, not even for dogs.

animal behavior - theft of food
Yum. yummy

Hope this helps!!


Kathy Clayton

Accredited Companion Animal Behaviourist &Professional Dog Trainer

011 783 3042   082 454 1750

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