Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My 18-year-old Bengal, Georgia, cries for food constantly, even after I’ve given her a bowl. She doesn’t have hyperthyroidism, has been checked at the vet, doesn’t have diabetes, but her kidneys are just starting to fail. I’m at my wits’ end on the crying and demands for more food when she has three bowls out already. What would you suggest?
Thomas: Well, Jenny, as you probably know if you’ve been living with Georgia for 18 years, Bengals are very high-energy cats. They also make no bones about telling you when they want something–and that includes crying for food.
Bella: We suspect that what Georgia really wants is more exercise and mental stimulation, and she’s crying for food because she wants that in her life.
Tara: That’s not to say you’re neglecting her, so please don’t think we’re accusing you of that! It’s just that we know Bengals are super-smart cats and they need intellectual stimulation and exercise to feel (and behave) well.
Thomas: Another possibility is that she may be tired of the food she’s getting. You could try feeding her other flavors of food, and, if you’re feeding her kibble, get her some canned food. As a wild cat hybrid (even if she’s generations removed from her original wild ancestors), she may prefer something that’s more like meat.
Bella: Now, since you’ve gotten Georgia to the vet and she’s been cleared of any major health problems, we believe the problem most likely is behavioral.
Tara: It could also be a sign of cognitive dysfunction. An 18-year-old cat is the equivalent of about a 96-year-old human, and regardless of whether we want to admit it or not, we do get some degree of cognitive decline as we reach our very old years.
Thomas: To get Georgia the intellectual stimulation she needs, and hopefully stop the constant crying for food, we recommend a few things. If you’ve already tried these, we apologize in advance, and we hope that other Bengal guardians will benefit from these tips.
Bella: First of all, we recommend some good, high-energy play. It sounds like Georgia is still pretty spry, so when she starts crying for food, we suggest distracting her with play. Cats need specific kinds of play to feel satisfied, so we suggest you read this article Mama wrote for Catster to find out the best way to play with her.
Tara: You might also want to invest in an exercise wheel (sometimes known as a Bengal wheel) to help Georgia work off some excess energy.
Thomas: Bengal cats, being so smart, are easy to train. They also appreciate the mental stimulation. The folks at Bengal Cat World recommend clicker training and training your cat to walk on a harness so you can safely take her outside.
Bella: Our Siouxsie liked to go outside on a harness and leash. She even used to go to work with Mama!
Thomas: Another option to keep Georgia mentally stimulated is to build her a catio so she can enjoy the great outdoors and stay safe from dogs and other predators (including, unfortunately, some humans).
Bella: Hopefully these tips will help you keep Georgia from constantly crying for food.
Tara: Do any of you other readers have tips for Jenny? If you live with a Bengal cat, you’ll probably have some more knowledge of the breed than we do, so Bengal guardians’ input is especially appreciated!