Common mistake cat owners make is that when their cat scratches around their food bowl they think that they are covering up the food like they would their poop in a litter box. Many cat owners assume this is a clear sign that the cat isn’t interested in the food. This assumption is inaccurate. That’s why I decided to write this blog post about why do cats scratch around their food.
Most of us are aware that our cats have a variety of peculiarities, but you must have observed one in general: they scratch the ground surrounding their food pre or post eating it.
It’s likely made you question if the stuff you’re feeding your feline friend isn’t up to their taste and expectations. My cat frequently combines her scratching habit with a few very loud meows, which I find charming.
In any case, it makes you wonder! Why do cats scratch around their food?
Pawing or clawing at the food is a natural and healthy activity. To avoid being eaten, cats would scratch to “fake cover” their meal and hide their tracks. They may even hide their dish with things such as napkins in some circumstances.
Continue reading, so you could learn actually why do cats scratch around their food bowl…
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What Does the Scratching Mean?
Cats have been noticed to scratch around their food bowls even when their bowls are placed inside the house, on tiles or carpets.
Even though there is no soil to scratch or move around, this behavior remains present in cats because it is related to an instinct.
In the wild, felines must hunt to eat. In spite of the fact that their wild ancestors hunt and eat in packs, there is always leftover food after they are done with their meal.
It is extremely important that they bury their leftovers in the dirt to cover their tracks.
This way, other predators can’t link the trail of carcasses to their whereabouts.
All felines are born with a full set of instincts meant to keep them safe in the wild. This is also true when it comes to Ragdoll cats.
They may not need to use this type of instinctual behavior as long as they live in a loving home, but when push comes to shove, cats know how to keep safe.
Do Cats Try To Bury Their Food to Eat Later?
Another theory, commonly used to explain why cats are scratching around their bowls, is that felines bury their leftovers to come back and continue.
However, this is false because felines are not scavengers. They typically feed on as much of a carcass as they can eat in one meal after which they stop. Felines, including house cats, have a very strong sense of smell that can detect food that is not fresh.
Their survival instinct will keep them away from food that is not fresh so that they do not get sick.
Why Do Cats Cover Their Food Bowl?
Some cats stick to scratching the tiles around their food bowl, but other cats have actually adapted to their environment.
Why do cats scratch around their food? If they cannot bury their leftovers in the ground, they will keep them out of sight by covering them. Like leopards in the wild. Cat owners have reported seeing them cover their bowls with anything from paper towels from the kitchen to the towels in their bathroom. The explanation is the same, but the method is quite ingenious.
Why does my cat scratch around its food bowl?
A cat scratches the floor around their food bowl, paws around their food bowl, or attempts to cover their food because it’s instinctual.
Why do cats scratch around their food? In the wild, felines must hunt to eat. In spite of the fact that they hunt and eat in packs, there is always leftover food after they are done with their meal. It is extremely important that they bury their urine, feces, and leftovers to cover their tracks.
This way, other predators can’t link the trail of carcasses to their whereabouts. All felines are born with a full set of instincts meant to keep them safe in the wild. This is also true when it comes to domestic cats. So, it is not limited to wild cats or big cats that wander and do food caching.
Why do cats scratch around their food? If you have a female cat, then you must have noticed it more often. However, the behavior is also seen in male cats. The interesting part is that cats’ claws are naturally designed for this unusual behavior.
Possible Reasons Why Do Cats Scratch Around Their Food Bowl
Let’s study the reasons for cat scratching in detail. The reasons will be the same even if the small kittens show this instinctive behavior and keep on digging around food dish(es) or water bowl(s).
Reason #1. Your Cat Is Hiding The Smell Of Its Food
In the outdoors, these creatures must kill for food, since they are prey animals/obligate carnivores. They receive food remnants from catching and eating significant chunks, and they need to hide them well so that other predators don’t notice their existence.
Why do cats scratch around their food? Cats are susceptible to larger predators, therefore keeping leftovers hidden is crucial to their survival. They don’t leave anything behind that may be linked directly to them in this approach.
If you see your cat pawing about their food after they’ve finished eating, it’s likely that they’re merely repeating an innate activity.
This can cause food burying in one or all of your cats. This does not necessarily imply that it is harmful, but if done frequently, it might indicate that your cat is agitated.
So, instinctive habit is one of the reasons why your house cat tries to hide food leftovers or excess food. She does so, in order to mask her scent, so she’d avoid signaling other predators about her presence.
Reason #2. The Cat Protects Her Kittens
Both male and female cats value the act of collecting foodstuff in the wilderness. Surprisingly, there is a component that increases the necessity of dietary concealment. This component is her offspring for female cats.
Female cats, unlike male cats, “independent of their own experience of raising kittens, female cats distinguish between kitten calls that convey different levels of urgency and react accordingly,” according to researchers at Hannover Medical School and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany.
This indicates that a mother cat guards her kittens fiercely. Since kittens are vulnerable and their mothers must abandon them to get nutrition, the last thing a mother would do is endanger their hiding area by dropping leftovers.
Why do cats scratch around their food? If you have a female cat who recently gave birth to kittens and you’re wondering why she’s scratching so much, her kittens might be the cause!
Make absolutely sure your cat-mama and her babies are in a comfortable, secluded, and secure area to make her feel more confident. In this manner, she could feel safer and quit clawing her chow, but even if she does not seem to, it’s not a problem as long as she eats frequently.
Reason #3. You Give Her Plenty Of Food
If you give your cat large quantities that she doesn’t finish in one sitting, you may see her clawing at the carpet when she’s finished.
In your kitty’s view, the extra food could be something she won’t be coming to after she’s finished, which is especially true with wet food. Because wet food does not absorb water for very long and does not last very long, it might be your cat’s way to inform you that she will not be eating it later.
Limiting the quantities you offer your cat is the greatest method of keeping this behavior at bay and making mealtime a little less unpleasant and a lot more enjoyable.
This will reduce scratching and, more significantly, keep the food fresh, slow its progression, and other health problems in cats.
Why do cats scratch around their food?
We understand that being a professional cat parent requires you to be away from home for lengthy periods of time. Nourishing your kitty before starting to work and after coming from work may appear to be the only option, but it isn’t.
You may acquire an automated wet food feeder, which will not only keep the wet food fresh but will also allow you to control how much your cat eats in a day.
Reason #4. Your Cats Tries to Keep Her Space Clean
Why does my cat scrape around his food? The reason might be more than your cat’s wish to remain undetected by predators. Cats like being clean, which is why they spend so much time grooming, combing, maintaining, and cleaning their magnificent coats.
They also hide their potty activity, and as soon as your bedsheets are changed, they’ll rush over to take a sleep in the cleanliness!
Why do cats scratch around their food? Once again, survival is the driving force behind your cat’s cleanliness and desire to hide any signs of their existence.
“Adult cats spend approximately half of their waking hours grooming,” says an expert veterinarian.
They use this to keep the smells of feed and other aromas out of their fur, keeping them camouflaged from enemies.
You might be perplexed by your cat clawing surrounding their food, but because the food dish is normally in an environment where your cat stays, they’ll want to keep their territory clean!
Reason #5. Your Cat Considers Scratching Around The Bowl A Pleasant Experience
Look very carefully at your cat scratching over their dish; it could be a sign of deep happiness! It’s possible for cats to do it before, between, or even after mealtime, which can be perplexing.
Your cat’s behavior of kneading the floor dates back to when they were kittens and would knead on their mom’s breast to encourage milk supply.
In general, kittens knead on their moms when sucking, and so many cats continue to do so as adults, kneading:
- Their parents
- Other cats
- Stuffed toys
- Fluffy blankets
- Soft clothing
You may have observed that your cat does this not only near their food bowl but also on other surfaces such as comforters. So it is undoubtedly a positive sign of your cat’s happiness.
This method of breadmaking typically indicates that your cat is expecting a fun time from you, such as snuggling and caressing.
Why do cats scratch around their food? Even before you sit down in the food bowl, the cat would knead the floor. Cat’ll purr and meow with delight, and if he likes the meal, he’ll keep kneading after he’s finished eating!
Reason #6. They Don’t Like The Food
Most of us attempt to buy the best cat food available, but we’ve all brought the dish to our cats, seen them scrutinize it, twist their noses, and then leave the room.
Their dissatisfaction is palpable, as is ours; after all, no one takes refunds on an old sock of pricey cat food!
While some cats may just ignore their food, many will attempt to take a stance. In order to get rid of the food, they would scrape around it or try and hide it.
Why do cats scratch around their food? This is comparable to what they do while they’re in the litter box.
Should This Behavior Be Stopped?
While it can be somewhat annoying for cat owners to have their pets scratching their carpets or tiles after every meal, this behavior is completely harmless for the cat.
So, unless carpets or furniture are damaged, there is no need for the owners to intervene in any way to why do cats scratch around their food.
Why do cats scratch around their food? In itself, meowing loudly or digging around the meal is not dangerous. It’s part of your cat’s gut feeling to take precautions and hide her existence from other carnivores.
In fact, some cat lovers find such behavior to be endearing.
So, if this is your situation, feel free to let your cat DO and allow her to scratch.
Another pair of shoes is when a cat scratches your objects or carpets, or you just find these behaviors bothersome. If this is the scenario, there are a few things you may do to get your cat to quit clawing her food.
What You Can Do To Put a Stop To This Behaviour?
Why do cats scratch around their food? If you see your cat scratching, try diverting her with a soft toy and playing with her.
If your cat hasn’t finished her dry food, don’t keep it with her. You’ll promote clawing if you don’t. Instead, restrict quantities to one mealtime to prevent your cat from burying food remnants.
Serve meals on materials that the cat’s claws won’t harm, and keep her feeding dish away from objects she may use to conceal her food.
Consider purchasing a jigsaw feeder for your kitty if you like free eating or simply don’t want to offer canned food for the whole day. It will inspire her to “hunt” for food while diverting her attention away from caching.
Is There Anything That Can Be Taken Away From This Behavior?
Even though there is no need to correct the scratching/covering behavior, there is one aspect that cat owners might want to pay attention to.
Why do cats scratch around their food? As mentioned above, cats only bury their leftovers. This means that the cat may be getting more food than it can eat in a single meal. Pet owners must check how much food the cat should be getting to prevent obesity and other health issues.
So, what does it mean when a cat tries to cover up their food bowl? Nothing more than the fact that it is a feline fully equipped for the wild.
Have you ever seen your cat scratching around its food bowl after a meal? Why do cats scratch around their food? What about covering up the bowl? If you have, tell us the story in a comment.
If You Leave Cat Food Out All Day…
Why do cats scratch around their food? If it annoys you, you can try something different.
Consider trying to put it in puzzle feeders instead. This way they will have to “hunt” for their meal, which will distract them from covering – and give them some mental stimulation!
Or you might be interested in checking out our best cat products post where we review our past year’s favorites.
Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy by Outward Hound
The Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy is a pet toy that helps animals exercise their minds. To get the treats inside the Dog Brick, pets have to flip open the top compartments, paw and nuzzle to remove the middle compartments, and then slide the blocks in the lower compartments. It turns eating into a very fun activity and improves a pet’s state of mind.
If this behavior is destructive you can also try these ceramic elevated cat feeders
Did you enjoy learning why our furry friends like scratching around their food? Then, you’re going to love these posts, too:
Learn More about Cat Behavior
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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,