January 23, 2023 2 min read

Ever notice your cat is scratching around their food bowl? Maybe they are tearing up newspaper you put underneath it, or maybe they are trying to find scraps to place over their food. This behavior can seem odd or even annoying, especially when the fancy cat food you have bought for them is supposed to be eaten and not buried. You might be wondering if there is a reason behind this strange cat activity. There might be a few likely reasons your cat is behaving this way.

Hiding It

Caching is a food storing behavior commonly performed by large wild cats like leopards. This instinct has been passed down from wild ancestors to your domesticated feline friend. Hiding food protects it from predators. Hiding the food also protects the cat’s scent from other predators so they cannot be tracked. While your cat may not be a wild leopard, they still might have this natural instinct to hide their food.

Saving Leftovers

Same as you put your leftover dinner in a dish to save it for later, your cat may be trying to save their food for another meal. Since your cat is unlikely to use a Tupperware container, your cat will use paper you have put under their dish or loose scraps they can find around the house to store their food for a later date.

Don’t Want to Share

Your cat may be done with their food but that does not mean they want someone else eating the leftovers! If you have other animals, your cat may be trying to bury their leftover food to hide it from the other pets in the house.

Don’t Like It

Just like a child might not-so-discreetly try to throw away the food they do not want to eat, your cat may be burying their food simply because they don’t like it. Instead of eating it they are just trying to get rid of it. Easiest way to do that is to hide it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Stopping the Habit

While it may be cute to watch your cat perform this strange behavior, it may also be annoying to have your cat constantly scratching the floor to hide their leftovers. Try these tips to curb the habit:

  • Stay with your cat when eating. This way you can clean up as soon as they are done and prevent them from burying the food.

  • Distract them. Once they are done eating, if they begin to bury their food, distract them with a toy.

  • Set a feeding schedule. Your cat may be saving their food for later because they are unsure when “later” will be. Setting a schedule will help your cat learn there will always be more food and they don’t have to save it.

Whatever the reason may be that your cat is trying to bury their food, it’s definitely another weird quirk of our feline friends, passed down through generations of cats, big and small.

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