If you feed on a schedule but there’s a huge chunk of time in-between meals, then that could also be contributing to your cat becoming a food thief. Cats have small stomachs and in an outdoor setting they would probably hunt and enjoy several small meals per day. If you only feed once or twice a day, your cat may be getting too hungry. Try dividing up the meal portion so you can feed three meals a day. You don’t have to increase the amount of food, just the timing of the portions.
If you think you may not be feeding enough food to your cat, get your veterinarian’s guidance. The labels on pet food packages are meant to be general guidelines. Your veterinarian can help you determine the amount to feed your cat based on her current weight, age, health condition and activity level.
Cats Who Steal for Play
Some cats will steal objects just for the opportunity to play with them. Some objects are so light and can easily be pushed with the slightest touch of a paw that it’s impossible for a playful cat to pass up a chance for a little game. Before you know it though, that rubber band or paper clip ends up under the sofa or stuck under the desk.
Unfortunately, many of the objects your cat may steal out of play can be potentially harmful. If your cat plays with a rubber band, earring or other small object and decides to chew on it, the object could end up getting swallowed. Cats have backward-facing barbs on their tongues and that makes it hard for them to dislodge particular items once in the mouth. Yarn and string for instance, are particularly difficult for a cat to remove from her mouth so those items often end up getting swallowed and that can lead to a potentially life-threatening health risk.
The best solution for a cat who steals objects out of play is to 1) put tempting objects away, and, 2) offer safer alternatives. The alternatives should come in two forms. First, make sure you’re engaging your cat in a couple of interactive play sessions per day. Interactive play therapy is a great way for you to control the action and give your cat the opportunity to really shine as the mighty hunter. Next, increase the fun factor in your home by stepping up the environmental enrichment. Give your cat something to do during the day while you’re at work so she won’t feel the need to steal in order to relieve her boredom. I know you have a bunch of solo toys for your cat but they’re probably just scattered around the house gathering dust. Instead, try staging the environment so it’ll be more interesting: