At some point you’ve probably observed your cat eating a meal, only to stop and “reject” her food using her paws. This strange routine might appear as your cat burying food, scratching around the food bowl, or dragging something over like a towel to literally cover her leftover food. So, why do cats try to bury their food?
A quick history lesson about cats
Most people attribute digging and burying behavior to dogs, but these are also basic instincts in cats. The ancestor of today’s domesticated feline was the desert wildcat. Wildcats avoided detection by predators by masking their scent and tracks—and the smarter cats gravitated toward soft dirt or sand, since this granular consistency made it easier to bury any evidence of their presence. Thus, these cats survived and thrived, spreading from the Fertile Crescent of West Asia into North Africa, Europe, and finally North America.
Why do cats try to bury their food?
It isn’t rejection (usually). Instead, your cat instinctively tries to bury her leftover food in order to cover her tracks. You’ll notice this behavior in your spoiled house kitty the same as you would in a feral neighborhood cat. Even though your cat has no “predators” to speak of (barring the nosy family dog, of course), she retains that biological drive to stay safe in the wild.
It’s also unlikely that once your cat “buries” her food, she’ll return later to feast on the leftovers. Why? Cats aren’t scavengers by nature. Their strong sense of smell reveals when food is no longer fresh. This is also a means of staying safe, as spoiled meat is sure to sicken a cat just as it would a human.
If you notice this behavior a lot, you may be overfeeding your cat.
If you see your cat burying food or covering her food bowl quite often, she may be trying to tell you something. Sure, sometimes cats gorge and don’t know when to stop eating. But if your cat isn’t cleaning her plate of wet or canned food, you may be giving her too much food at once. And if she tries to bury dry kibble, she may not return to eat until it is swapped for fresh food.
Veterinarians agree that you should feed your adult cat 1/4 cup of dry food twice a day, and approximately 1/4-1/2 can of canned food as a snack.
An automatic cat feeder like the WiFi-enabled Feeder-Robot helps ensure that you’re feeding your cat the right amount of food on time, every time. The Feeder-Robot works with any dry or semi-moist kibble.
It’s important to feed your cat wet food, as well. However, try feeding her a smaller amount at a time if you notice your cat burying food… canned or otherwise!
Why do cats bury their poop?
While we’re hovering around the subject, why do cats bury their poop? Well, for the same reason they “bury” their food: to cover their tracks! From ancestral wildcats to present day strays, cats bury their waste to avoid detection by predators. Cats are naturally attracted to the sandy feel of cat litter, and they instinctively know how to use the litter box.
But as most pet parents know, litter box odors persist even when your cat is diligent about burying her poop. If this sounds familiar to you, you may want to check out the automatic, self-cleaning Litter-Robot—otherwise known as the best litter box for odor control!
Because the Litter-Robot is automatic, partially enclosed, and contains odor-absorbing components like a carbon filter, it helps reduce litter box odors… even if your cat doesn’t bury the waste.
So, why do cats try to bury their food? And why do cats bury their poop? Now you know these peculiar habits are another of your feline’s important instincts! However, even cats need a little help now and again. With an automatic pet feeder ensuring your cat gets the right amount of food, and an automatic litter box that further “buries” their waste, you can all live together in a happier pet household.
Cover photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash