Why Do Cats Bury Their Food ? – Explanation For Cats Burying Their Food

It’s understandable of you thinking that ‘why do cats bury their food’ or rather pretend to do so in different situations when they aren’t being able to actually hide it. You may think of it as a completely bizarre act but it is actually embedded in the personality of all felines. If you want to know more about why they do it and how to deal with it, continue to read below.


Cat behavior of burying their food explained

why do cats bury their food

The action of cat burying food is referred to with the term ‘caching’ by the scientists that have been considered to be an innate part of the natural behavior set of felines. This behavior exists in all the felines as a result of the genetic inheritance from their ancestors and the same is the case even with the domestic cats that may surprise you. Food catching by domestic cats can simply be understood as an action of cat where they paw, knead, or scratch the area around the food bowl after or before eating.

The mechanism of food caching involves the feline predators burying their leftover food for two primary purposes that are saving the food for later consumption or making their territory safe against visits of other predators by removing the food smell. Many of the pet experts don’t support the first theory and believe that the scavenger nature of cats doesn’t make them come back to the saved or kept food. They conform to the second theory strictly stating that protection is the sole aim behind this behavior to keep away other predators.

This makes it clear that food caching is an instinct that appears in every cat and is a completely harmless action. The domestic cats can be seen to pretend to dig around or pawing around their food bowls many times, even if the digging isn’t happening. This is just an instinct that surfaces while they eat if you think ‘why do cats try to bury their food’ even after being domesticated.

Common reasons behind cats’ attempt at burying their food

If the above mechanism didn’t convince you enough into understanding why does my cat try to bury his food, have a look at these other factors that also lead the cats to pretend to bury their food.

  • The primary reason is to make the scent of the food disappear to prevent attracting other predators near the house to enter your cat’s territory. This is again a genetically inherited trait from their wild ancestors.
  • The above reason for avoiding predators also applies when your cat has given birth. Their instinct gets active again due to the feeling of keeping the kittens safe against predators.
  • Cats pawing around their food bowls is a signal towards the most obvious thing- generation of food leftovers by the cat. This means that they are trying to hide the leftovers that they don’t intend to return. This is an indication that they are getting food more than their diet but don’t want you to know that and cut their diet.
  • Felines are mostly known to be cleanliness lovers and thus to keep their surroundings or territory clean can be another probable reason behind cats covering their food’. Cats like to stay away from messy spots and thus may not want their food to remain spilled around.
  • Another case to consider while discussing ‘why do cats cover their food’ can be a house with many cats where every other cat will try to cover its food for saving it from the other cats. This can become a neurotic behavior and surface like an obsession every time.
  • Your cat might also be trying to cover the food because they do not like the diet change or they are not happy with the location change of their dining.
  • The worst reason behind food catching or floor pawing can be any health issue with the cat causing appetite loss and leading them to bury the food. Cats are adept at suffering in silence and this applies in this case too.

Assessing the need for preventing food from catching by cats

As we said, the practice of food catching or floor pawing by the cats is completely harmless and is mostly a result of the instincts that exist in them no matter what. Thus, our first suggestion to you is that you can let your cat do this action and not think about taking any step to prevent them from doing so. In some cases, you might even be able to witness some cute cat moments too while they dig.

However, if the behavior turns aggressive due to any reason and you witness damage being done to the house objects, and then is the right time to take action against neutralizing this behavior after properly understanding ‘why do cats bury their food’.

Tips on preventing cats from burying food

why do cats bury their food

So if you have decided to discipline your cat into not burying the food or pawing the floor around, then here are some tips that will prove useful to you:

  • Take the food bowl away from the cat immediately after she is done eating so that she doesn’t remain exposed to the leftovers if there remains any.
  • Give food to your cat in small portions and accordingly increase the amount to save the situation of leftovers remaining. If food remains anyway, remove it immediately.
  • Take special care to not leave wet food leftovers with the cat as they rot faster and eating it can make the cat sick.
  • Keep the food bowl on hard surfaces that can’t be scratched by the cat easily.
  • Always make fresh water accessible and available to the cat all the time as it helps in the maintenance of moisture balance in the body and turns to calm down her scratching tendencies.
  • You can try distracting the cat from food catching with toys or provide them with scratch posts smudged in catnip immediately after they finish eating.
  • Make interactive food feeders available for your cat like puzzle feeder and other games that not only satisfy the hunting skills of the cat but make their mealtime more fun and exciting enough to make them forget scratching.
  • The most important thing to remember is that never resort to harsh measures or punishing the cat to prevent her from food catching since she is not doing to harm anything but out of her instincts.


We hope to have cleared every aspect and you no longer are confused as to ‘why do cats bury their food’. It is a completely natural action observed in every cat and must not concern you at all until you see things getting unnaturally aggressive or obsessive. In that case, take steps to discipline your cat gently.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.