Cats as Thieves

cats as thieves

The great majority of cats will steal food if given half a chance.

cats as thieves

That’s their instinct. They don’t have any sense of right or wrong, only of what will make you cross, which is something, by and large, that they prefer to avoid. But it is possible to dissuade them from stealing to some extent as long as they are taught from an early age not to develop undesirable habits, like jumping on the table or kitchen work surfaces.

Many cats will steal if they are tempted by something delicious. After all, this is only what they would do in the wild if they came upon a bird or a mouse that another animal had inadvertently dropped.

Some cats seem to be natural villains and, given half a chance, they will steal anything edible that they can lay their paws on. Their natural hunter’s instinct is to grab anything they can as soon as they can while the going is good. They have a sort of siege mentality, which dictates that they should always behave as if they don’t know where the next meal is coming from.

But cats do not have any sense of morality. Expecting them to be moral animals would be like expecting them to learn to read or write, or to take up playing the piano, or to learn to type. It simply isn’t realistic. Thus they don’t understand that their behaviour is wrong, only that it makes youcross. Some cats will learn from your reaction what they’re not allowed to do, and if they are dissuaded from jumping on the kitchen table or work surfaces from an early age, you stand a chance of preventing them from turning into thieves.


Other cats will simply get better at doing it — whatever it is they’re not allowed to do — when you’re not watching because they know it would make you angry.

Apart from the normal reasons of cleanliness and hygiene, it is particularly important to be careful with food scraps and leftovers in your home: leaving a chicken carcass in a place where your cat can get at it is asking for trouble —and is an unfair tempation to your cat, who may be badly injured if it tries to eat brittle chicken bones.

Your cat’s behaviour and discipline depends to a great extent on how old the cat is — the younger it is, the greater your chances of success in dissuading it from developing any antisocial habits such as stealing.

If you do catch your cat stealing something, gently but firmly pick the cat up, place it on the floor and firmly say ‘No’. Don’t get angry, remain calm and be firm. It should get the message, though this is a lot more difficult with an older cat that hasn’t yet received any training of any kind.

All cats should be taught to recognise their own name. It is important for a cat to know when you are calling it and to respond to that call. This is the only really important thing that every cat should learn

anything else is an optional extra.

Cats vary as much within their own species as we do within ours and, just as there are nice people and horrible people, so there are good cats and naughty cats, thieving cats and `honest’ cats.