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Why does my cat only eat when I’m in the room?

Cats have a mind of their own and will often let you know when they don’t want to be bothered. The same goes for when they want attention. They will announce it. This is especially true when they want affection during feeding.

Your cat may need the company for many different reasons, but it is often because they want your presence during a vulnerable part of their day. They want to feel safe while they consume their food.

But there are many more reasons why your cat needs you in the room when they are eating. Continue reading to see what those reasons are and how you can help improve your cat’s quality of life via their meal.

Five Reasons Why My Cat Only Eats When I’m in the Room

There are many reasons that your cat needs you in the room to eat. It could be something as simple as needing comfort in a new place or just to enjoy your presence. Cats are prone to learning human behavior and can mimic it.

Here are some of the reasons for this weird cat behavior:

  1. Anxiety or stress.
  2. They do not like the food.
  3. A learned habit.
  4. Separation issues.
  5. They just prefer it.

Anxiety or Stress

Your cat could be experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress when they eat, and so they need you around to perform this task. This anxiety can cause many things, but mostly they don’t feel safe to eat without you.

Eating food is a very vulnerable time for a cat. They have to let their guard down and consume their food, and so when they need you in the room to eat, they tell you that they only feel safe when you are around to do this.

Any cat can experience this level of stress or anxiety, but you will see this more frequently in cats that live outside or are rescues. You may also see this in kittens because they may have had to fight for their food against their siblings. 

They Do Not Like the Food

Sometimes, your cat doesn’t like the food, so it will not eat it when you aren’t around. They may only eat it because they feel like you are watching them to ensure they do.

Cats are very vocal and apparent when they don’t like their food. They may even give you those little glances showing you strong disapproval. Pay attention to these because they can help you understand your cat.

A Learned Habit

cat watching family during meal times
cat watching family during meal times

Your cat may have just learned this habit from your routine or watching your family during meal times. You may have fed your cat consistently and continued to be in the room when they were eating and simply got used to this routine.

Cats often learn human behavior; for example, cats don’t meow other cats but only humans. They learned this because they understood humans are vocal to each other and pets. So now they meow at their owners. 

Learning that humans like to eat at the table with family can be something cats learn as well. They understand that this is bonding time, so they prefer to eat when you are around instead of in your absence.

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Separation Issues

Your cat could be having separation issues. Unlike dogs, cats don’t mind receiving affection while they eat, and so they may want you near for that affection. They don’t like to be separated from you.

If your cat is always by your side, this may be why your cat won’t eat without you nearby. This behavior isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but at some point, you may need to teach your cat that it is okay to be apart.

They Just Prefer It

Your cat may just prefer you in the room to eat rather than out of their sight. They may just want you around. They could be affectionate eaters and like to have you around while enjoying their meal.

Seven Tips to Help Your Cat Eat Its Food Calmly

You can’t always be in the room when your cat is eating. As much as you love your pet, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Here are many things you can do to help improve your cats eating experience so they may not need you anymore:

  • Help them feel safe.
  • Remove any triggers.
  • Change their food.
  • Warm their food.
  • Try leaving in little increments.
  • Have food available all day.
  • Take notes of behavior.

Help Them Feel Safe

create a safe area for cat to eat
create a safe area for cat to eat

Helping your cat feel safe should be a priority. Remember, when your cat is eating, it is a vulnerable period, so making them feel safe should be the first step in helping them with their behavior.

Ensure that the area you feed them is safe and isolated from anything dangerous. If you have other animals like dogs, you may want to have a feeding spot that is either high out of reach from the dogs or in a location that the dogs can’t go to, but the cats can.

You can even blockade an area with a baby gate or make a small cat door to a room that will allow cats to go but not allow your dogs. These things will provide a quiet and safe space that your cat knows won’t be bothered when they eat.

Remove Any Triggers

If your cat is experiencing anxiety and stress when eating, you may want to see if something is triggering these emotions. Loud sounds or unsteady movements could be some of these causes. Maybe there is a smell or object that they don’t like.

Try to figure out if there are triggers in the environment where they are eating. Removing this from the environment could be the difference of you having to be in the room while they have their meal

You could also change the location of where they eat their meal. The location could even be the trigger, so trying this out can help you and your cat.

Change Their Food

Try to change up their food. Dry cat food can often cause any misbehavior, anxiety, stress, and other problems. A healthy diet can improve not only their physical health but also their mental health.

You may want to try more organic dry cat food. Try to get cat food that doesn’t have a lot of processed ingredients. You may even want to try solely providing your cat with wet cat food if it seems that your cat doesn’t like dry cat food.

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Warm Their Food

Warming their food may help them with their meal. Ensure that the meal is not too hot. You don’t want to burn your cat’s tongue and mouth. It could just add to the stress with an injury like this.

The warm food will make it easier for your cat to consume. It may even be easier on their stomach. Who doesn’t love a belly full of warm, delicious food?

Try Leaving In Little Increments

If your cat has separation issues or just seems extra clingy, try to leave your cat alone in increments. Start by making space when you go to work or just want to be alone. Then move to when they are eating their food. 

Refrain from leaving them alone immediately as they start eating. You don’t want to start when your cat is eating, or they will begin to associate anxiety with the food.

Have Food Available All Day

Automatic cat food dispenser
Automatic cat food dispenser

When you make your cat’s food available all day, this gives them the opportunity to snack or eat their food when you aren’t around. As they continue to eat independently, they will realize that it is okay to eat without you near.

If you are too busy in the day to prepare food, getting an automatic cat food dispenser may be your best investment to achieve this.

You may not see results immediately, but it could slowly change. If you are curious about their eating while you are gone, take notes of how much food is left after you feed them for the day. You can also install a motion-activated camera that will record your cat passing by anytime.

Take Notes of Behavior

Always take note of any changes in your cat’s behavior if you are in the process of trying to change it. If your cat responds to not eating at all, you will want to remain in the room until you can find a better way of changing this behavior.

Tracking any changes in their behavior as you try these solutions may help you find the best way to assist your cat. It may also be useful for your vet when you contact them.

When to Contact Your Vet?

Anytime your cat goes long periods without eating, you should contact your vet. Cats do not store energy in their fat like humans, so it can be dangerous when they don’t eat. You will want to get to the root of this behavior before it becomes dangerous to their health.

If you notice large shifts in your cat’s behavior, you will want to notify your vet. Let them know about the shifts and any new routines you are trying to employ. A professional can look at the health side to see if anything is causing it.


Cats are interesting pets because they can be super picky while indifferent at the same time. Get to know your cat’s quirks and wants. They may just want your company like you enjoy having family and friends sharing a meal with you.