First feline diagnosed with food obsession
Cats who act aggressively before and during feeding time might not just be hungry; they could be exhibiting signs of food obsession.
According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior and reported on by Daily Mail, some cats are actually obsessed with food and will act aggressively toward humans and other animals while seeking out and protecting food. Researchers have labeled this unusual conduct as “psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior.”
Cats who are obsessed with food may display behavior such as hissing or growling during feeding time, attempting to steal the food from the hands of the person feeding it, and failing to seem satisfied no matter how much food they eat.
The first feline to be diagnosed with psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior was Otto, an 8-month-old cat who was using aggression to get food. Otto began trying to steal food from his owners after he had already eaten his meal as well as food meant for other cats in the home. According to Daily Mail, Otto even resorted to eating his plastic toys.
According to the study’s abstract, researchers conducted routine hematological and urinary laboratory tests on Otto and received normal results, other than their findings of hyperglycemia. Their lack of findings regarding physical issues led them to believe that Otto’s behavior probably required psychological treatment.
After attributing Otto’s ravenous appetite to a psychogenic abnormality, researchers set out to restore him to a normal and healthy feeding behavior. They sought to counter-condition him to feeding and desensitize him to food, as well as take away some of the stressors that might have contributed to the condition’s onset during Otto’s earlier life, according to the study.
According to the article in Daily Mail, researchers recommended that Otto’s owners abstain from eating in his presence, reward him for behaving calmly, and ignore him except for regularly scheduled playtimes. His owners continued this routine for five months, after which researchers concluded that he was cured due to his newfound calm demeanor when in the presence of food.