Q: My cat won?t eat unless I sit there with her and watch her eat. Why does she do this?
A: Eating is a time when cats are vulnerable. They are focused on eating, so they are less aware of their surroundings. Skittish cats are particularly prone to wanting their human to be near when they are in this vulnerable position. Kitty trusts you to have their back.
This is why those idiotic cucumber videos make me so angry. The cat is eating, totally focused on their food while a human (who is supposed to be a trusted ally) places a large green cucumber behind them. When the cat looks back, it is startled. This may look amusing, but it is among the cruelest things you can do without physically hurting the cat.
Cats don?t get practical jokes. The cat isn?t going to yuck it up with you later. The cat will be terrified in a place that it thought it was safe, and this can cause all kinds of psychological problems, and may lead to things like spraying the house with pee and other territorial issues.
Sorry about my tangent, but it does illustrate just how much trust cats put in us.
Stiles always has to have a person or one of the other cats next to him to eat more than a bite. He?s been this way since he was a tiny little guy, drinking kitten formula out of a saucer. He especially loves eating with Kiki near, partly because she won?t eat his wet food like Kagetora, but I think it?s also because she would often lay in my lap while I was syringe feeding him. I?d set him next to her in my lap, and that always got him to eat, even when he was feeling bad and didn?t want to.
He isn?t skittish at all. I think he just built a connection between eating and being with the people and cats he trusts and loves.