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Friday, May 15, 2009

What's happening to my 4 am snack?

Dear George,
As you may possibly notice, from my photo, I am fond of my grub. Indeed, you could say eating is the most important thing in my life. "Always clean the plate" is my motto and I suppose I have to admit that I am well found if not a bit stout. So I have been horribly upset by my humans' change of attitude to late night snacking. I have been accustomed, ever since I was a kitten, to take a light repast at 4am. I require this to be freshly served. My humans have tried to leave food out for me, but I eat it all up before they are asleep. Naturally I wake them at 4 am with a request for my meal. Up till now, they have served me with willing and instant obedience. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to ensure they do this. I can wake them without difficulty but they seem strangely reluctant to go to the kitchen for fresh supplies. They have also put me on a "lite" diet. It's horrible - all full of bran and no tasty fat. Any suggestions?


Dear Herbie,
Of course, you like a 4 am snack. Most of us cats enjoy eating little snacks throughout the day - and the night, if possible. Some scientist measured how often we ate and came up with the fact that we preferred 12-14 small meals every 24 hours rather than two big ones. It makes sense. We are designed to eat a series of small mice rather than one large rabbit (though I personally like a small rabbit when I can catch one).
I admire the way that you have persuaded your humans to let you eat ad lib and when you like it. That shows strength of character. Some cats, slimmer than you, can make a large plate of dried food last throughout the 24 hours just eating a few biscuits at a time. Your preferred method is to eat everything you can in one go.
This habit, alas, is the problem. I am not going to tell you to slim. Why should you? I am not going to tell you to stop waking up your humans. Why should you? Apart from the comfort of the early hours snack, you probably enjoy the way they groan and roll over before complying. It is always amusing to watch a human waking up -- or trying not to be woken. One of the many jokes we enjoy at the expense of this species.
It's also pleasant to receive their caresses - after they have settled down into wake rather than sleep mode. Many cats lead their humans to a full food bowl just for the pleasure of this obedience training exercise, and also to ensure they get some quality human petting.
My advice to you is to draw on the feline virtue of persistence. We are a species that can wait at a mouse hole for eight hours without losing patience. We can outwait, just as we can outwit, any mere human. If they refuse to feed you at 4 am just keep on waking them up. It's more fun if you let them go back to sleep first. A training schedule of a wake-up call every half hour at 4 am, 4.30 am, 5 am, 5.30 am, 6 am and so forth should do the trick. After all they've got to get up and go to work in the morning.
I am sure you will manage without any great difficulty. Remember - persistence, persistence, persistence.
PS. Is there room on the bed for all three of you? It looks to me as you might need a bit more room. Should you start pushing them off?


  1. Dear Herbie,

    I have great praise for your persistence, and a comment on technique. My human female is a kind creature, but rather obtuse, and strangely disobedient when asleep. I believe I have solved this problem. When I request--nay, demand--my 5 a.m. eye-opener, I have taken to poking her repeatedly right in the temple whilst purring, to soften the command. When this was not enough, I trained her silly little dog to jump on her when I begin poking, and begin to lick her face. It works like a charm. My human is unable to continue sleeping, and thus gets up to get my food; because I am purring and not meowing she doesn't find me too demanding; and if anyone gets the blame for waking her, it is the dog for all the face licking. The dog, incidentally, is so slow-witted herself that it doesn't always occur to her to snaffle my food, and if she tries, my human moves my dish up to the surface of the table where I can eat unmolested. So, you see, the morning works out well for me, which is what matters. The human receives positive reinforcement, I receive positive results (in the form of a satisfying chorus of, "Oh, puppy, STOP!"), I get fed, and plus, I am slowly taking over the breakfast table, which I think is a most dignified way for a cat to eat, and only my due. If there are other non-feline pets in the house, especially dogs, they will be easy for you to outwit into assisting you in obtaining food. Onward and upward.


  2. Because I've always been slim, my humans have snacks all over the house for me. So, I get to enjoy all those little snacks. But, I do love a nice hot meal. I had one captured (a baby rabbit) just this afternoon and darted inside with it, but my humans freaked out on me. The male human grabbed me up and carried me off to the bedroom while my hot meal was running rapidly about in the den. I was held captive until my rabbit fled out the door back into the yard. Now, I have to find him again. This is the first day I've been allowed out for any length of time because I'm still healing from a terrible abcess that required surgery. My humans are so strict on me it make my life difficult to be a cat.

  3. Herbie, my are my buddy!
    4 am is the "magic" hour :-)
    That's when I wake up my male human!
    Not that I care so much for food or snacks....I'm a fussy eater, but I LOVE to see his face around 7 am (after bugging him every half hour)!
    By the way, I'll ask my sister to write about snacks and food...she's the one interested in "eating"!
    Even if on a diet....keep waking him up at 4 am.

  4. Dear Herbie,
    Like you....I love to eat! I think I can eat all the time, but we have strict rules in the house. Even if Fluffy wakes our male human at 4 am...we won't eat until 6 am! We eat small meals through the day.
    We don't get any dry food since it has too much sugar and carbs. Few years ago, our humans attended a forum with Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins (, I remember to this day, they came home and starting that night....our dry food was gone! I really loved it but I got used to wet food only. I lost a bit of weight since then. Don't get me wrong...we are not diabetic, we are healthy kitties! We get once or twice a week a treat (for teeth) from Wysong (
    Also, I know that our female human was checking these websites: and shirley's wellness cafe. She's giving us some raw food now, but I still miss ..."my candy" :-)


Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online