CattyCorner: Why Do Cats Try To Cover Their Food Bowls?

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Greetings, my pawsome human minions and cat cohorts.

Forrest here. You know me, I’m your favorite feline of foresight reporting in with answers to your most burning cat questions.


Today’s question comes from my mom after she watched me at the food bowl again. She really has a staring problem sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, as a cat I expect to be admired and watched, but only when I so choose. My mom and dad, however, are a couple of creepers, always watching, always asking questions.

cat scratching food bowl


@petrums/Instagram


Humans, such silly creatures.

I forgave her staring this time, as she did pose an excellent question.

Scratching Around the Food Bowl

After I’d finished a most excellent breakfast of flaked turkey in gravy, there were some morsels left on my plate. As a being of instinct, I know that leftover food can draw other animals, perhaps larger predators, to an area. To prevent this, its best to cover the food so it won’t draw undue attention to my territory. So, I scratched the floor around my plate.


cat cover food bowl


@hogbenpottery/Instagram

Now, I realize I’m not throwing any dirt over my meal to mask its odor when scratching the tile, but I used to do this when I lived in the colony and instincts die hard. You had to cover old food or the raccoons came around looking to scrap. And though I’m not really covering the food in my home, the move sends a signal to my mom, ever watching, that she can throw it away as I’m done.

But she didn’t understand and asked, “Forrest, why do cats try to bury their food bowls?”


cat scratching food


@mayfairthecat/Instagram

She gets it now, but you humans do take some training, that’s for sure!

And if you’re pooky has always known indoor living, I’m sure this leaves you asking, “But my cat has never lived outdoors, why does she still scratch around her food bowl?”


To this I say, the word ‘domesticated’ can be confusing. Cats typically scoff at the term because if anyone is falling under the patterns of someone else, its humans falling in line with feline agendas, but we allow you humans to think what you will. And in this case, it’s easy to forget that domesticated cats are still hard-coded creatures of instinct.


@pudipudibaby/Instagram

For me, the scratching around the food bowl behavior comes down to old habits die hard, but for other indoor cats, it’s all about natural instinct. Sometimes our living locale doesn’t match what the wild inside tells us.


But…there is another reason for trying to cover the food bowl.

Foul Gruel that Must Be Done Away With

Cats will also scratch around a food bowl because that mess is gross and your cat is trying to cover the stench.

The best way to figure out if the food is disgusting or your cat is listening to the wild inside her DNA, try a different food. If she eats and then scratches, well, its instinct. If she sniffs the food and furiously tries to cover it, then you know the food is beneath her liking. Do away with it immediately, peasant. Then be sure to offer something you know kitty likes. Call it a peace offering for daring to give her food so foul.



@bella_thecoolcat/Instagram

What can I say? Food bowl scratching, you call it a quirk, we call it logical.

But all that really matters in the end? That you don’t forget to feed the cat.


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Feature Image: @petrums/Instagram


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