Why Does My Cat Try to Bury Her Food?

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As a cat parent of two cats for over 10 years, I hear many new cat owners wondering, “Why does my cat try to bury her food.”

Your cat burying or pretending to bury food is an instinctive behavior. And it does so for several reasons. 

Keep reading to learn:

Why Do House Cats Try to Bury Their Food?

Domestic cats bury their food for two instinctual reasons:

  1. To avoid detection 
  2. Caching the food for later

Avoiding Detection

Cats’ ancestors faced several predators in the wild. As a result, they lived in a constant state of high alert, which made them effective hunters while keeping them safe and alive in the wild.

Since bigger predators were a threat, hiding food was an instinctual way to mask their presence. After all, leftover food is a clear giveaway that a cat is around.

While domestic cats no longer face predation dangers, they still try to bury food leftovers to hide the evidence. Your cat won’t try to bury the food where she ate it. Instead, she will transport it elsewhere to bury it to throw the predator off the scent.

Unfortunately, burying food leaves a mess, requiring you to clean up.

Caching Food for Later

Most animals in the wild bury food to retrieve it later. But this isn’t typical cat behavior.

However, cats can indulge in food caching, especially when pregnant.

A pregnant cat has an insatiable appetite and will feel more secure if food is always available. Your cat’s instinct to protect her young ones can drive her to cache food.

From experience, food caching usually starts when a cat is experiencing food insecurity. According to Anthrozoös, food cashing is unavoidable if you rely on a food bank that doesn’t always nourish your cat.

The problem of food insecurity can also be an issue in a multi-pet household. All inter-cat relationship follows a dominant and submissive pattern.

 A subordinate can end up not getting enough food, triggering the instinct of food caching.

Why Does My Cat Try To Bury Her Food: Other Reasons

Other reasons why your cat might try to burry her food include:

Lack of Hunger

Your cat may be burring her food because she’s not hungry. Since cats have a strong sense of smell, food aroma will be distracting. 

When not hungry but the food is available, your cat will try to cover it to mask the scent and do away with the distraction.

While sudden appetite loss should be a concern, there are viable explanations for your cat’s food-burying behavior stemming from satiety.

  1. Your feline companion may have recently hunted and thus feel full
  2. If your cat roam outside, she might have visited other home and eaten there

To prevent this, avoid leaving wet food out when your cat isn’t hungry, assuming she will eat later. According to Wildlife Research, food scents are irresistible for cats. However, the smell is only effective for fresh food. The longer you leave uneaten food open, the more it loses its aroma and gets unappealing for your cat.

Even if your kitty gets hungry later, it will reject the food.

Marking Territory

Like wild cats, your kitty guards her territory and resources jealously. If your cat loves something, she’ll typically cover it or hide it.

Your cat can try to bury or lay on top of food to hide it. This usually occurs when your cat is no longer hungry but doesn’t want other pets enjoying its food.

If your cat is territorial over food, you should carefully manage the process. If you take her bowl away, she can perceive it as an act of aggression. Instead, you should distract her before attempting to take the bowl away.

Besides, find out why your cat is so territorial over food. Some reasons might include:

  • Your cat might be worried about whether or when it will be feed
  • Other pets might be helping themselves with your cat’s meal
  • Your cat lacks physical territory and uses food instead

Changes to Food

Cats hate any change and are particularly sensitive to diet changes. Your cat will notice if you alter the food brand or introduce a special medical diet.

If you’ve recently changed your cat’s diet, it could be causing some anxiety for your cat, leading to the burying behavior. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t change your cat’s diet. While cats are stubborn, they eventually eat when hungry. You can make the changing process gradual by mixing the brands with the previous food dominating until your cat gets comfortable changing.

Why Do Cats Fake Bury Their Food?

You might have noticed that sometimes, your cat will go through all the food-burying steps but fail to follow through.

You might wonder:

Why does my cat try to bury her food but stop amid the process?

Many times, the fake bury is your cat battling twin instincts. Your kitty might instinctually want to bury its food, but the hunger pang eventually outweighs this desire. 

Fake burying is common in a multi-pet household. Your cat might try to bury its food to hide it from other pets but eventually have second thoughts and eat it.

Some kitties may pretend to bury their food but walk away instead. The fake burying may take the form of scratching around the bowl, begging the question:

Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Around Her Food?

Your kitty might sometimes scratch around her food before eating or refusing to eat. There are several explanations for the behavior, similar to why cats bury their food.

Territory Marking

The possible reason your cat scratches the floor around her food is to mark territory. The Canadian Journal of Zoology states that cats use claws to mark territory. Felines have scent glands in their paws they use to claim food.

Indulging The Instincts Of Playing With a Kill Before Eating

Alternatively, the scratching might be your cat’s instinct to play with a kill before eating. Cats ancestrally hunt wild birds and rodents with paws before completing their hunt. Fresh, meat-centric food will trigger similar actions.

Your Cat Is Full

Sometimes your cat may have eaten to satiety and want to hide the reminder. Since a cat is well-mannered and doesn’t like the food spilling on the floor, scratching the floor around satisfies her instinct even though it doesn’t see results.

Should You Stop Your Cat From Pawing The Floor After Eating?

Pawing the floor after eating is a fairly common behavior in cats. It’s often an instinctual act.

In most cases, pawing the floor after eating is not a cause for concern. However, you should intervene if you find the behavior bothersome or obsessive.

Here are some tips to discourage food burying:

  • Reduce the portion if you give the cat too much food.
  • Avoid leaving food bowls down when your kitty shows signs of satiety.
  • If you leave food out for free-choice eating, place the food in puzzle feeders so that your cat has to “hunt” for her meal.
  • Distract your feline friend with playtime whenever she displays the behavior of burying food.


Why does my cat scratch the floor around his food?

Cat scratching the floor around their food is rooted in their instinct and behaviors. Scratching the floor indulges your cat’s instinct of burying leftover foods to hide the scent from potential predators or save it for later consumption.

How do I stop my cat from trying to bury her food?

If you’d like to discourage your cat from trying to bury her food, the best approach is to feed your cat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This will reduce the urge to bury food as your cat will learn food is consistently available.

Why is my cat scratching the floor?

Cats scratch the floor for various reasons, but the most common ones include instinctual behavior, territory marking, play and exploration, and communicating with other pets in the household.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

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