HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Other (not you kitties) Animals who Love People Food

The kitty thread got me thinking about other animals with a fondness for people food.

Two of my earliest memories of animals and food concern horses.

My Mother had a ritual with me of making oatmeal raisin cookies. We would always make a few giant cookies and bring those to feed the horses. Looking back I have no idea whose horses they were - they were just the cookie horses as far as I knew! (She must have known the owners and had permission - she wouldn't have just done something like that on her own.) The horses would run to the fence as soon as we got out of the car. They were quite patient and gently took the cookie with a bob of the head - it seemed like they were saying thank you.

My Father would occasionally bring me to visit his friend at the track. The friend owned a race horse. I had never been up close and personal with a horse without a fence separating us and the size of the animal scared me. The owner taught me how to hold my hand with my fingers flat (so they aren't mistaken for baby carrots) when offering a sugar cube as a treat. The horse loved it. And began sniffing me all over searching for more - which reduced me to giggles.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I grew up with a Amazon parrot in the household, it was quite elderly, having survived 2 owners before us. And I have had them on and off since in my life. Oh yeah they love people food! It was a bit un-nerving to watch them crack open chicken drumstick bones to eat the marrow out. Their beak could crack the bones and whole almonds and at the same time, shell the peel off a canned pea. I had Peach faced Love birds that would fly in to share what was on the dinner plate.

    1. We have four rabbits, and they definitely are fond of people food. Sitting on the ground with any sort of fruit is liable to get you swarmed. Bean, our largest, has given me a number of unintentional scratches as he attempts to climb up my entire body to get the honeycrisp apple I am holding over my head (his favorite). Bean, being the smartest of the bunch, also knows when he's misbehaving and will attempt to steal things and run away with them to eat in a corner or under the couch, in order to not get caught. He also made quite a mess when we stupidly put a 5 pound bag of flour within reach. The next morning, the entire kitchen was covered in fine, white powder littered with bunny tracks, and he and his brother had telltale white goo around their mouths. Despite being only 7 pounds himself, Bean had managed to drag the 5 pound bag halfway across the kitchen.

      They also learned to hang out under the kitchen island whenever I am making food. Gallifrey, in particular, is good at honing in on dropped goodies like a tiny, 3.5 pound missile.

      A couple of years ago, when we only had one rabbit, Gallifrey, we were out of town in the beginning of December and a friend was watching him. He had free range of the house, but usually behaved himself. We got home and couldn't find him anywhere. Our apartment was on the second and third floors, so it was unlikely that he escaped, but after searching for over an hour, we feared the worst. We were sitting in the living room, absolutely exhausted and upset, when we heard a scratching noise. We were able to trace it back to the kitchen and found Gallifrey had somehow gotten himself stuck inside the lazy susan cabinet in the corner and was happily gnawing on the 10 pounds of dark chocolate I had purchased to make truffle for Christmas presents. After a call to the animal poison control line and wringing our hands, Gallifrey was entirely fine, if a bit hyper.

      1. Sharks come to mind.,

        1. My current Greyhound is a picky eater who does not steal food, but her predecessors tore into anything in hopes of a snack. There was the time I came home to strands of uncooked spaghetti all over the rug. Apparently none was actually eaten. Then there was the 10# bag of cat litter that was dragged into the living room and disemboweled. Speaking of bowels, the cats could not be blamed for taking the opportunity.... I knew better than to leave a bag of popcorn out in the open, but clay litter?

          I have a drawing of my pet rabbit that I did in first grade. Below it I printed that he liked strawberry shortcake so that must have been true. We had a dwarf parrot whose cage was arm's length from my father's seat at the table, so Wendy was offered, and consumed, all sorts of human food. Mom and I assumed this was unhealthy but, to be honest, we did not care. Wendy was an evil-tempered replacement for sweet-natured Echo, who was lost when Mom was cleaning windows. Wendy lived "forever" - I learned many years later that a great variety of food is the best way to feed a parrot.

          I once worked taking care of lab animals. The 10 rhesus monkeys got Purina monkey chow and a daily fresh apple from the hospital budget but we brought in treats for them. I once gave them each an Oreo, which they liked - half of them opened the cookie and ate the filling first.

          1. I have a 21 year old (almost 22) cockatiel that is very particular about his people food. He likes El Milagros tortilla chips (in the paper bag) but will eat Santitas if presented with one. He also likes cheddar cheese Goldfish. If you're eating either one of these, he makes a racket until he gets his share.

            He's afraid of any other people food we try. Apples, bananas, carrots, lettuce.....nope...not gonna go near it!

            1. I don't think I've owned any birds (& I've owned dozens over the years) that didn't enjoy "people food".

              Currently, our Citron-Crested Cockatoo LOVES anything we're eating, so always gets samples unless it's something I know for a fact is seriously not good for her.

              And of course the dogs will scarf up anything - edible or not.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bacardi1

                Oh, & forgot to mention our cats. Out of 4, one doesn't care for people food at all, two go ga-ga over deli meat - particularly Boars Head Mesquite Smoked Turkey & rare roast beef - & one who absolute ADORES LOBSTER!!! Oh, & Diver Scallops. Isn't interested much when we're having something relatively inexpensive like Arctic Char or Cod - but won't leave us alone if we're having lobster. What a life.

              2. Before (pygmy) hedgehogs were trendy as pets, a friend who worked at a local shelter fostered, and then "adopted" an injured one.

                I remember that the little guy was cuckoo for melon of any sort, especially watermelon. He doted on the stuff.

                1. Ugh, I'm guessing the furry gray thing that ran across my foot in the kitchen this morning was there for the "people food." And, of course, the dogs were snoozing on the couch at the time. Thinking of picking up a skinny cat at the animal shelter this weekend....

                  1. My Eclectus parrot eats a diet that is primarily people food: brown rice, greens, mixed vegs, broccoli, butternut squash, etc. I make a big batch of it and freeze into weekly portions. She also gets fresh fruits/vegs in season (currently enjoying fresh cranberries and apples), yogurt, cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, chicken wings, etc.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Njchicaa

                      Whenever we give our cockatoo poultry, my husband swears a quizzical look comes over her face, as if she's thinking "Gee, this is delicious, but I feel somewhat strange enjoying it so much for some reason" - lol!