Why Do Cats Scratch Around Their Food Bowl?

Why do cats dig and scratch around their food bowl?

Scratching around the food bowl is a common behaviour in cats which is completely normal.

  • Wild cats, as well as feral cats, have all been observed burying any uneaten food to avoid attracting predators or scavengers.
  • Another theory is that as cats in the wild tend to eat where they sleep, they don’t want a rotting carcass lying around, which could potentially attract predators.
  • Unlike dogs, cats don’t bury food to go back to later.

Domestic cats

Domesticated cats do not need to bury their food, but this behaviour is hard-wired into them. Most pet owners feed their cats in the kitchen, on tile or linoleum, so of course, the cat can not bury his food, but will still engage in the scratching behaviour. Some cats will try to cover up uneaten food with a tea towel if given the opportunity to do so.

There is no need to correct this behaviour as it is harmless. If your cat is leaving a large amount of wet food in his bowl, it may be an idea to revise how much food he is eating.

Do not leave wet food out for longer than 30 minutes, or it will spoil. If your cat is turning his nose up at the food entirely, try another brand, unless he is on a prescription diet. Alternatively, warming it in the microwave can sometimes entice him to eat. Always stir food that has been microwaved to prevent hot spots.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

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