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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Toby is very easy going.

- I can take away his toys out of his mouth even when he's being aggressive with it.
- I can put my hand in his food or take his food away while he's eating without him fussing.
- When I pester him he may tell me to leave him alone by getting "mouthy" but not aggressive, and he doesn't go off on his own like some cats - he still wants to stay near me.

But, I have started giving him some doggy chicken jerky when I want to keep him occupied for a little while. When I go to take it away he growls at me in a very scarry way (for the first time ever) as if to say "you better leave me alone if you know what's good for you, this is mine, and I mean business". He backs away, but still doesn't run off with it.

Should I just let it be or practice taking it away so he gets use to it? I ask this because I know it's important to be able to handle your cat in case he ever gets in to something dangerous that you need to take away him.
 

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If he lets you take toys and regular food out of his mouth without too much fuss, I wouldn't worry about it.
He's still a growing kitten, and I'm sure his instinct is to "hoard" anything that seems like it might be an extra boost of nutrition...like treats. Personally, I wouldn't give a treat if I'm just gonna take it away again...that seems kinda silly.
 

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Well, I know in dog training, there is a test at the animal shelters to put a fake hand in the food bowl while the dog is eating to see how protective over his/her food it is. I think in dog training this is important to maintain pack pecking order. But cats don't have a pack mentality and hunt by themselves. I have a suspicion that cats may never learn not to growl when food is being taken away. That being said I don't have a problem with my Annabelle, because I usually am putting the extra wet food scraped from the spoon in her bowl with my finger, and she doesn't protest. :)
 

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Since it's about a 2 inch piece of jerky it can last a while, so it's more the kind of thing "okay,we're done with it for now". But I do see your point.
Why don't you just find a way to cut the jerky into pieces or buy some that comes in smaller servings? If it's particularly dense and hard, you can use a meat hammer to smash it into pieces he can have in one sitting.

I just don't see the point of expecting the animal to not protest if food is constantly being taken away from them. That to me, encourages them to be food aggressive, which he does not sound like he is now.

Even with animals at the shelter, they tell you do not disturb the animal while it is eating. They do the 'hand test' in order to see if anyone decided to add a treat or a child pets the dog or whatever while it is eating that it won't outright attack, but it's not a tolerance test to see if you can take the food away.
 

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I've been working with Miss M on food issues. I see the point as being two points actually:

1. This time it's a treat you've given, but next time it could well be something dangerous. Before these pups, I didn't teach my pets to allow me to remove food. Then one day my old dog got into rat poison. It took a broom and two comforters to be able to take it away which allowed him to consume more than he would have if I could just walk up to him and take it without him resource guarding. Luckily he was okay (lost him to bloat a few months later), but it could have been tragic.
2. You have to plan for the unplanned. That test is also administered to cats, at least it is at my local shelter. That growling can be a death sentence. The shelter is not going to risk liability by adopting out an animal with known "aggression" which I place in quotations because I think it's obvious why the animal is upset and that they aren't some vicious descendant of godzilla. While I know some will say, but my pet isn't in a shelter. What about the day your pet gets out? All it takes is one door left open by accident.

With Miss M, I've been using the negative/positive consequences method. You act like a savage beast I remove you from your meal and we try again in five minutes. You're a polite kitty and not only do you keep your meal but also I add a tasty treat. So far, so good. The savagery is lessening every day.
 

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I have 2 cats with food aggression, one I got from a shelter. The other is a purebred from a breeder. Although they growl and posture and get territorial around the food bowl, I can move the bowl and pet them if I need to so if there was a threat of poisoning or whatever, we could take that away. They don't attack me or anyone else in the house if you have to move them to another room or handle their food once they already have started to eat. The aggression is towards the other cats not the humans. They know we are not going to eat their food and leave them hungry through reinforcement, but if we constantly kept putting the food down or giving them treats and then taking them away 5 minutes later, they would learn not to trust us around their food.

You are describing taking the food away temporarily as punishment for undesirable behavior and then rewarding the cat for being patient or "polite", but you give them the food back. So, the cat learns that all it has to do is what you want and it will be rewarded. The OP is describing taking the food item away on a more permanent basis...that is not the same thing. It sends a different message to the cat.
 

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Hal, your gut is right. He is just a kitten and this isn't a huge issue, but now is the time to work on it.

Put yourself in his shoes. You're eating dinner and someone tries to take it away. You might be a bit miffed, but not to upset. Ok, what if someone gives you a $100 bill. You sit there for a bit planning how you'll spend this free money, and then someone comes to take it away! I bet you would be pretty upset, maybe you would swear at them? Well what if they offer to trade the $100 for two $100s?

That's what I've done with jitzu, we trade. She has a cooked chicken wing, i offer her a piece of cheese. Done. She has a stolen bun, I offer a bite of meat. Done.

Don't just take the treat away! If you do that you're telling them they were right. They had this great thing, so they protected it so no one would take it. If you take it you confirm their worst fear, their things will be stolen! Now you've created guarding aggression. They will fiercely protect any resource to prevent it from being stolen.

Do a trade and they learn to bring you things in hopes of getting something better. Jitzu brings me things all the time, toys, treats, chunks of last nights dinner I missed in clean up, ect. She used to growl fiercly, and would bite and claw if I tried to take anything from her.

I suggest you practice trade, or give smaller pieces of jerky. Don't take his treat away in punishment, it'll backfire
 

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I use the trade up method and found it successful. Another thing you can try since Toby's reaaally keen on the chicken jerky is give him a very small piece, then just before he's finished eating it, offer him another piece while he's growling with his first one, waft it under his nose and wait until he takes the second one from your fingers. Repeat this a couple of times, every day or so, and I think he should stop his growling because he knows another one is coming and doesn't have to "guard" the one he has.
 

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I have 2 cats with food aggression, one I got from a shelter. The other is a purebred from a breeder. Although they growl and posture and get territorial around the food bowl, I can move the bowl and pet them if I need to so if there was a threat of poisoning or whatever, we could take that away. They don't attack me or anyone else in the house if you have to move them to another room or handle their food once they already have started to eat. The aggression is towards the other cats not the humans. They know we are not going to eat their food and leave them hungry through reinforcement, but if we constantly kept putting the food down or giving them treats and then taking them away 5 minutes later, they would learn not to trust us around their food.

You are describing taking the food away temporarily as punishment for undesirable behavior and then rewarding the cat for being patient or "polite", but you give them the food back. So, the cat learns that all it has to do is what you want and it will be rewarded. The OP is describing taking the food item away on a more permanent basis...that is not the same thing. It sends a different message to the cat.
You can do the same with a treat. You take away the jerky, but as others have said give something else. Essentially, you're a brat you lose the jerky, but you're not a brat and the jerky is upgraded.

Nan, the only issue with your suggestion is association. Toby isn't necessarily going to think he gave me this one so I can have it and guard it, but I stole this one so I have to give it back. Let's say Hal left human jerky on the counter. Toby could easily steal it, guard it, and consume enough to get sick before Hal can get it back. Toby will be thinking this smells and tastes good. It's like that thing I defend with my life. It's mine and you can't have it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the good ideas.

I think the trade is a good idea to try. I also give him the regular freeze dried chicken treat which he likes. If I hold it in my slightly closed hand he nuzzles into my hand but is still gentle about it.

I also like the guarding theory. This may be similar... I've seen some pets that will wolf down as much food as they can because they know when it's gone, it's gone. Other times I have seen that if you put out enough and just leave it, they learn that what they don't eat is still there later. So I think the more that they know that there's something else, the less likely for them to become possessive.

I'll update this weekend after I get more jerky
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Amazing change. I threw a piece across the floor and he brought it back to me, dropped it, and played with it in my lap. At 6 months of age he is really showing a lot of the typical Bengal bonding traits

But I have to look for another brand, I don't think I like that this is made in China
 
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