why my cat
tries to bury his food?

  • My cat scratches around his bowl
  • My cat is trying to bury his food
  • My cat scratches around his bowl after eating
  • My cat scratches around his water bowl

It is impressive to notice how natural and instinctive animals cats are. Even though they have been domesticated for a long time, some of their habits have remained and have even evolved with their new lifestyle as house cats. For example, Kitty finishes his meal and seems to want to hide the few kibbles he has left by scratching the tiles around his bowl.

There is nothing to worry about. No, he's not stupid, he knows he's not in his litter box, and that doesn't usually represent a compulsive behavior disorder. However, this habit has a very special function for him, which goes beyond what we can see as humans. That's why, when we discover the strange little quirks of tomcats, we have to look further than meets the eye. Is it the legacy of their ancestors? Often this is the case.

Where does this behavior come from?

In nature, felines do this around their food to actually bury it so as not to attract predators with the smells and not to have its remains stolen. In this case, we are talking about survival. For domestic cats, this behavior is rather territorial. By rubbing his little paws on the surface around his meal, his foot glands (which are located around and on his pads) secrete and disperse pheromones that other cats will interpret as a "Hands off!". These pheromones act as an olfactory signature: “This meal is mine!”. So, just like its ancestors, kitty simply wants to prevent the theft of its “prey”. We see him scratching the tiles and the walls around his bowl, a bit like he does when he wants to bury his needs. He does this mostly with his front paws, and it usually lasts between 10 and 30 seconds. By this very simple way, his intentions are communicated towards his congeners. Even more effective than a text message!


Could this be problematic?

Accompanied by any other behavior, this habit is quite normal and does not involve any danger. However, knowing that pheromones are a very powerful way for animals to communicate, this could cause another, more shy cat in the household to hold back or eat extremely quickly because the message that the previous cat would have left is threatening to him. Otherwise, if this behavior becomes abusive, one might suspect that your cat has a greater anxiety about stealing its food and is more eager to protect it. Maybe he himself is being bullied by your other pet?

This problem is even more likely to occur if you notice that your cats are not in complete harmony with each other, for example if one intimidates the other and makes him nervous. In problematic cases such as these, it would be best to provide a bowl for each cat, in separate rooms, to avoid this kind of resource protection squabble. Then, the fact that your cat buries its food if it is fed outside can lead to physical problems, such as waste caused by soil in the food, mold or parasites... It is therefore advisable to s ensure that no buried food is left lying around for too long to avoid such inconveniences.

In short, this is a perfect example of the importance of properly deciphering kitty behavior before jumping to conclusions. No, he doesn't necessarily want to tell you that the food you offer him looks and smells like his litter (yuck)! It's more of a way for him to stay safe and save his lunch for later.

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