My Cat Has Stopped Eating from her Dish & Will Only Eat Out of My Hand!

This was when Graycie would eat out of her dish

This was when Graycie would eat out of her dish

I'm puzzled by this... my 3 yr. old female (Graycie) stopped eating her food from her dish about 4 weeks ago. The only way she'll eat is if I put the food in the palm of my hand & she eats from my hand.


I do this for a few mins. then my back hurts so I stop. She will several times later in the morning or evening (she gets fed twice a day) come & meow at me to follow her to her dish. I do this & I see that she wants to have a few more nibbles, so I get a spoon & spoon her food into my hand & she eats again.

What is this about & how can I correct it. I've tried to leave her alone to eat on her own but she will not.

I am worried as I need to stay away overnight & I'm worried she's not going to eat without me there to hand feed her.












My Thoughts:

My initial thought is that if she's not eating out of her bowl at all, then there is something wrong. I would check with the vet to be sure. If your cat is healthy, she'll eat when she's hungry. Cats often like to nibble at their food, go away, and then come back to it again, but I would be concerned as to why she wants you to feed her.

Some cats like the attention, and they often will eat out of your hand. This is especially true with treats or special meals like albacore tuna, but this is something all together different.

If this happened to me, I'd have to ask myself what's wrong. Have you noticed any other changes in her? Is her weight steady? Is she as active as always? Overactive?

Right before this started, did you change food bowls? Change position of the bowls? Move the litter box?

Have there been any other major changes in the house? Any changes of normal routine or time spent with her or at home? Any change in routine can sometimes trigger odd behavior.

Are you cleaning the bowls with the same cleanser as always? Are they being rinsed the same as before? Is she drinking normally?

If she has a favorite treat, you might try putting that into her bowl (after thoroughly cleaning and rinsing it) and see how she reacts. Most cats (not all) love tuna or salmon or sardines. Crack a can of that and put a couple of mouthfuls in her bowl. If she goes for that, then next time you could try putting a little juice from the tuna can into the bowl with her food to encourage her to eat from the bowl.

Cats make excellent trainers. Over the years, I have allowed myself to be trained into performing certain behaviors. If she's doing this just to get attention, then I would say she has successfully trained you and is probably telling all the neighbor cats how smart her human is!

Comments for My Cat Has Stopped Eating from her Dish & Will Only Eat Out of My Hand!

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Cat driving me mad
by: Anonymous

My cat refuses to eat anything but an expensive wet food. She will not eat unless I stand and watch her and help her to bit off the food instead of licking off the liquid and leaving all the meat.

I can't let her alone with the food because I've another cat who is overweight and who can't have the same food. The cat I feed alone is thin but won't eat at all unless I feed her when she demands it (often in the wee hours of the morning.

I get very irritated at her. It is truly making me unhappy. Yet she is 16 and cannot be rehomed.

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Will only eat from my hand!
by: Kelly

I have 2 Brother & Sisters Persians they have always eaten from their dish, but Gucci my chinchilla girl has all of a sudden stopped eating from her dish, she wants to eat from the tips of my finger, bless her, i work full time so in the morning, have o get up earlier because of this, happy i am not alone, after reading other comments, however will get her checked, to be sure.

I love all my 4 Persians, they are still eating as normal, can;t understand why all of a sudden, he is 3 yrs old, i am sure she can't be getting as much as she did, before, so i feed her often to be sure, she is getting enough & her treat breast of chicken, all has to be off my hand, i am home at the moment working, but if this continues, won't be able to go on holiday, through the worry, or overnight for anything.

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I came looking for an answer...
by: Anonymous

It is just been couple of weeks since she demands to be fed by my hand. And this applies only to raw chicken which she used to have own her own. But she eats her white fish fillet off the bowl when I tested... so is it because she is bored of her usual food? So I tried giving her whiskas tuna pack and that too went well- in fact she cleaned it so much I didnt have to wash the bowl! :-) So I am convinced it is "if you are serving me chicken, you better feed me" lol

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Hand fed cat...loved dearly
by: Donna

My cat is not happy with the addition of a new cat to our home. One of his ways to exert his dominance, or appearance of specialness, is to prefer to be feed his dry kibble one bite at a time from my Palm. I believe this makes him feel special, and eliminates the temporary anxiety that the addition of the new cat has brought to our home. It lets him know he is still just as loved as always.
It is a very sweet moment between just him and me. Special,time just for him.
This happens every few days, not every meal. But he does enjoy being hand fed, however, for that matter, who doesn't?

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Hand fed because he can!!
by: Anonymous

Mine does the same. He will cry to me to follow him to kitchen and be hand fed his biscuits. I used to think he has a problem swallowing as between every three bites he would kind of do this swallowing gulping motion thing. My friend is a vet and she has been the one to try and figure out what is wrong with him. He has had his throat checked so many times as well as his teeth and nothing. One day she was watching and realized what it was. Every three bites, he lifts his head for a kiss kiss (which I do) before he continues eating. This is what the gulping was. Nothing wrong with him, just that he is still swallowing when he looks up for his kiss on the head. He will eat on his own if I am not there but just loves the attention he gets being hand fed... I hope yours is something simple like this!

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Hand Fed Cat
by: Anonymous

My cat is 3-years-old and will cry for me to hand feed her. I adopted her at 1.5 years and noticed she had an odd habit of eating a few bites of wet food from her bowl, then using her paw to scoop some up and eat off her paw. I didn't really like this idea but it was how she ate and there wasn't much to do to change it.

Then she needed to be on medication for a while and I spoon fed her a bite of soft food in order to hide the pill in the food and ensure she ate it, and since then she will not eat more than a few bites from her bowl before coming to me whining to be spoon fed. If I don't do it, she will not eat and instead bury her food with some of the dry food that is available. So she either doesn't eat wet food or I spoon feed her, so I've chosen to continue spoon feeding. If I do only a few spoonfuls and then leave for work, the plate will be sitting there untouched when I get home. I've waited her out, but she will simply not eat.

She has shaped my behavior, but the alternative is her not eating, so there's really no good answer. I even brought an elevated bowl thinking it perhaps had something to do with arching her head down, perhaps it hurt her neck and was more comfortable eating more upright like when I spoon feed her, but that did not have an effect (and she eats her dry from a low bowl). Her blood work all looks good and I don't think this issue is medical, and, based on most of the other posts, it's usually not a medical issue, but a behavioral one, and one that is hard to undo.

It really has affected our relationship. I love her dearly but find myself getting annoyed but the constant whining for me to spoon feed her, especially in the morning when I have to get ready for work and she simple stares at her food dish, back to me, back to her dish, back to me, then meows and whines for her servant to bend over and spoon feed her. But of course I give in each time, knowing that otherwise she won't eat.

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What I found out about spoon feeding my kitty
by: Anonymous

Well at seven months old my kitten stopped eating wet food and only ate dry. I tried every quality and semi quality can pate food I could find. At seven months old she obviously did not care for food in general she just only ate when she absolutely had to. There is dry food available at all times and no grain EVO. She's a ragdoll, a large breed so she's growing and Weighs just fine. This went on for nearly 4 months. Anytime she would walk by the wet food that I feed my other cat she would try to bury it and never ate it. I didn't like that because her urine volume became smaller and her stool became very pellet like and dry. I bought 3 water fountain spa for pets one pet every room to encourage her to drink more. But the stool and urine continued the same small dry stool out put. So one day she was sitting on the Counter when I was getting wet food for my other cat. And I let her sniff the open can and she started licking the juices off of the pate. I only feed my kitties pate no grain. Anyway after four months of not touching wet food all she would do is bury it I got a wooden spoon near by & scooped some up and she started licking/eating it and she's been eating it that way ever since. So the comments that people say is yeah she has you trained is right.

My cat did not eat wet food for four months so withholding it from her is not going to help I already know that because I did it for four months. I'm happy I found a way that she will actually eat can food again! I use a bamboo rice spoon that is about 3 inches wide and 3 inches long so I can put a few ounces warmed up covering entire spoon. I'm retired so I can do this and it doesn't take more than five minutes & I know that her kidneys are being taken care of by eating the wonderful Merrick canned chicken or turkey pate ! So you see withholding is not always going to work. Because not one of you would say to let it go on for four months. I really just thought my cat did not like canned food anymore. Well I found out that's not true because thankfully four months later I found that she will eat it from a spoon. When my kitty was 7 months old my vet told me that she's going to be a big cat and don't worry if she eats wet food or not & to only give her 1/2 cup of EVO dry a day well when I started measuring her food I realize she's not even eating a half a cup of dry per day. & no can food! There is much more nutrition and moisture health value in a quality pate can food I'm happy she's eating it off the spoon or not !

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My Spoiled Kitty
by: Chief of His Staff

I conducted a test on my cat today for the same reason. He just likes to be hand fed. Hand fed from my plate as opposed to eating the very same food from his own bowl. Cats are smart. I love my little guy. He just wants to sample what's in my plate and enjoy the company.

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I hand feed my cat every meal
by: regina

I have been hand feeding my rescue cat Moochi for two years!!! He has a check up every six months and is in perfectly good health- he is just spoiled!! I decided to hand feed him one day just because I thought it would be cute- and ever since then, he insists every meal be hand fed!! I am glad to spoil him though because I found the poor little guy in a parking lot and I feel like he deserves the best life possible-I love him

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For your stray kitten...
by: Kurt

Is she confined to a single room? She should be. This is where she gets used to the new home and learns her litter box habits and routine, including meal times.

For the litter box...

Standard litter box training applies. Place her in a kitten-sized box after playing, eating or sleeping and she should get the hang of it.

For the food...

Assuming she's weened and healthy (she needs an initial vet visit anyway), use the old stand-by that gets most cats to eat... "stinky wet food." Don't use a bowl. Instead, use a flat, wide plate so the edges don't bother her whiskers.

Set the food down at meal time. She'll eat when she's hungry.

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My cat too!
by: Anonymous

I recently adopted a stray kitten. She was being chased by the neighbor's puppy and we saved her from being injured. We took her in and set her up with food and a litter box. Trying to teach her that the litter box is hers and trying to get her to eat from a dish instead of our hands is frustrating. I would like to know what else I can try before going to vet.

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My 2 year old Persian male also does this
by: Anonymous

I came across this post while trying to find some help with my cat. We did find out he had a staph infection that caused lethargy and decreased activity. We were able to get him healthy after that, but now he won't eat at all by himself out of the bowl. If anyone on this post was able to find a solution please let me know. We are worried to ever leave overnight as he won't eat.

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Another vet visit
by: Kurt (Admin)

@Anonymous with the 5 year old Persian...

I would say another vet visit is where I'd take it. If he's sleeping too much and has a lower activity level or is lethargic, something is clearly wrong.

If it's not medical, has anything changed in his life (or yours)? If his hand feeding requests are simply attention getting, perhaps he's experiencing some depression. I would discuss that with the next vet. I hope he gets better fast.

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My cat is doing this too
by: Anonymous

I was glad to read your comment because my 5 year old male Persian has stopped eating out his bowl and cries for me to hand feed him. I am extremely worried about him but the vet visit revealed he is in good health including teeth.

The good health was a blood test for kidney and liver function and glucose. I am still convinced that there is something wrong so I am consulting another vet.

What is concerning is that his activity level has decreased; he sleeps all the time. Any advice is more than welcomed as I love him dearly and want him to return to his normal self.

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ABOUT YOUR CAT
by: Anonymous

HI, HAVE YOU CHANGED FOOD LATELY OR CAT DISHES ?

TRY ELEVATING THE DISH, PUT IT ON A PHONE BOOK AND SEE IF THAT HELPS.

IF YOUR CAT IS NOT ON A SPECIAL DIET, AND YOU HAVE TO BUY DRY FOOD, TRY MEOW MIX SEAFOOD MEDLEY. I USED TO FEED MY CATS THAT WHEN I COULD NOT AFFORD MAX CAT.

MAYBE TRY A GOOD CANNED FOOD, WITH A MUSCLE MEAT AS BEING THE FIRST INGREDIENT MENTIONED ON THE CAN, RATHER THAN BY-PRODUCTS.

ALSO CHECK HER TEETH AND GUMS OUT, MANY CATS HAVE STOMATITIS, WHICH CAN OCCUR FROM FEEDING YOUR CAT COMMERCIALIZED FOOD.

I HOPE THIS HELPS !!!


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hand feeding
by: Anonymous

Dogs have owners, cats have Staff. At least you are probably Chief of Staff. I would agree that if she ONLY eats from your hand, a vet visit is in order. But I have several Siamese that will turn their noses up at a bowl of food, only to wolf down every bite when I agree to hand feed.

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