The whole thing started innocently enough. I was getting some Deli ham out of the refrigerator, when my two year old Tabby cat Cherry wandered into the kitchen. Suddenly, I felt sorry for Cherry having to eat that boring dry cat food all the time. So I figured...why not give her a little treat?

Just a little teeny tiny bit of people food once in a while couldn't hurt, right?

So I ripped off a thin strip of ham and dangled it in front of Cherry's face. First, she looked confused. After all, this didn't look anything like her regular food. She sniffed it. Next thing I knew, she was gobbling up that ham like it was the most delicious thing on earth! Then she wanted more. So I gave her another piece... and then another.

Before too long, every time I opened the refrigerator door I would feel my cat giving me her brand new "cold cut rub." I would look around furtively. Then, if no one was coming, I'd slip Cherry some ham or chicken or roast beef. This was all done on the sly, since my husband would be mad if he saw what was going on.

He had a very strict "No People Food for Cats" policy.

Soon the "little treat once in a while" escalated into the "not so little treat all of the time." I allowed Cherry to sample such delicacies as pudding, whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream, Kentucky Fried chicken, yogurt - even Sponge Bob Square Pants cheese crackers! After awhile, my rapidly expanding pet just expected me to slip her people food, and I felt guilty not giving in.

I had created a four legged snack monster.

My life became more and more difficult, dealing with Cherry's constant demands. She didn't seem to care about anything else any more - such as looking out the window, or batting her Ping-Pong ball around. All she cared about was the contents of the refrigerator, but only if I was the one opening it. Cats aren't stupid, after all

Another problem, was that my family was growing suspicious.

"Cherry looks like she's put on weight!" my husband commented one evening, as Cherry lay sprawled out in the middle of the living room floo, displaying her plump tummy.

"She just needs more exercise!" I said.

Then, at 3:00 A.M. one morning, as I stood squeezing Cheese Whiz onto a spoon for my eagerly awaiting cat, I had an epiphany.


I had become a round-the-clock slave to my cat's refrigerator-obsessed ways.

"THAT'S IT!" I informed my surprised cat. "NO MORE!"

But I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and I was right. It was very difficult saying NO to my cat's crying and rubbing and manipulative purring. But I had to be strong. I had to end this bad habit of hers COLD TURKEY - and I'm not talking Deli turkey here.

Sure I was tired of lying to my family and dealing with Cherry's endless demands. But the most important reason for putting an end to Cherry's people food fixation, was that all this people food was not good for her.

Ironically, my quest to be a "good" and "caring" pet owner was putting my pet's health at risk. Overweight cats are subject to the same health ailments - diabetes, heart and liver disease, respiratory disease, cancer, etc..., as overweight people. Plus, all that extra weight severely limits their mobility, damages their joints, and (worst of all!) can even shorten a cat's lifespan

So what did I do? I employed tough love. Every time Cherry bugged me for people food, I substituted another activity, such as settling in for a cozy grooming session or offering a toy dipped in catnip. I also got busy rolling Ping-Pong balls down the basement stairs, and firing up the Cat Trax. I even popped in the old Video Catnip DVD and searched out squirrel and bird videos on Youtube (a big hit, by the way).

Sometimes, I set up fun "challenges", such as "Tossing the Mouse Into the Box," or "Marching the Wind-Up Toy Into the Paper Bag; anything to get Cherry's mind off (people) food! Eventually......(not right away - but eventually)...... it worked.

Yes, I do occasionally still toss Cherry one of those treats made just for cats...treats with names like Liver Goodies and Tuna Yum-Yums. After all, a house cat's culinary life can't be all dull. But I have learned (the hard way!) that there are a lot more positive and healthy ways to win my cat's affections besides offering endless people food treats.


I did some research online and found that some experts don't have a problem with certain OCCASIONAL people food, such as fresh turkey or chicken, or even deli chicken or turkey - but no ham or salami or anything with a lot of additives.

And definitely no Sponge Bob Square Pants cheese crackers or Cheese Whiz! Also, there are experts who even suggest offering baby meat to your kitty...if you really want to go that route.

But don't ever ply your cat with treats throughout the entire day (and night)! Just remember. Once you start letting your cat lick milk from your cereal bowl in the living room every morning, you've crossed a line - and there's no going back! There's no way you'll ever be able to eat that cereal in peace, again. (Ditto with tidbits from your dinner plate).


Don't bribe your cat with people food. It won't make him love you any more. It will just make him love people food more! Try giving more of YOURSELF to your cat, instead.

Even though ripping off a piece of ham may seem easier when you're tired or busy, always find time to just sit with your cat - talk to her - inquire about her day. Pet her, play a little....these are much healthier ways to win her heart (healthier for her heart...literally).

Cat treats...the ones made just for cats? Go for it....just not all the time, because your cat can get addicted to these, too. And while you're at it, why not make the treat a challenge? That way, it's not just all about the food.... it's about THE BRAIN, as well.

Toss that treat into a box - or place it up on a chair, or sneak it inside an empty toilet paper tube. Now your cat has to work a little to enjoy that treat, which is good for stimulating her mind.


Following is a list of people food that you NEVER want your cat to have, because of a possible dangerous or toxic reaction:


bones (can cause intestinal obstruction or laceration)



peach pits


apple seeds




Macadamia nuts

Just a small amount of alcohol, coffee, or tea can be lethal to a cat



Now I can't imagine many cats woud be interested in a lot of the items on this list (apricots?) but you never know. Better safe than sorry. Just don't let any grapes or raisins fall on the floor when you're cat is around, and keep him out of the liquor cabinet!

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Comments 8 comments

Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Fun read pinky! The only "people food" I give my cats is an occasional can of tuna split between the 3 of them. And I do remember a time when a grape fell on the floor. Neither of them ate it, they just played hockey for a long time until it ended up under the stove:)

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York Author

If your cats have learned that the tuna is a "once in a while thing," then it's not a problem! I think I've had the same thing happen with a grape falling on the floor. Luckily, I don't think most cats are interested in tasting grapes!

MsQuestion profile image

MsQuestion 5 years ago from New Jersey

My mom has this cat that's in the habit of getting fresh shrimp every morning for breakfast. My mom says she doesn't remember how it started, but now the cat just expects it! I think it's kind of funny...but also, a little bit expensive and weird!

MAGICFIVE profile image

MAGICFIVE 5 years ago from New York

This story is hysterical! Sponge Bob Square Pants cheese crackers really cracked me up! I have had cats that learned to bug me for "people food" and it was annoying. Currently, I have a cat that wants nothing to do with people food! I could offer him a piece of fresh lobster, and he'd just walk over to his bowl of dry food! He's weird, I guess, but it's a lot easier to deal with a cat like that than a cat that's learned people food is tastier!

PSSST! profile image

PSSST! 5 years ago from Conneticut

It's sort of like a parent giving too much cake or candy to a child thinking they're being "nice"

amymarie_5 profile image

amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL

I'm like you when it comes to my cats. They are spoiled rotten and I used to feel sorry for them eating boring food to. What brand food do you give them? The organic brands are better for them and they like the taste. It's more expensive but it's worth it because they are healthier. Once in a while will give them fresh tuna or turkey, never cold cuts. Great hub, I voted up :)

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York Author

we use Nutro-Max Naturals.....what do you use? Yea, cold cuts are not good - too much salt and sounds like you really care about your cats...and, thanks for the compliment!

gabe 5 years ago

what brand treats do you recommend?,

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