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Cat Hide Their Food – 6 Possible Explanations for This Habit

cats hide their food

6 Reasons Why Cat Hide Their Food

Cats do a lot of things that we humans think are strange and, honestly, a bit weird. But most of the time, there are natural and instinctive reasons for their behavior. Sometimes, these actions can look funny and adorable but actually indicate that something is wrong. In other cases, owners might fret unnecessarily about something that is completely harmless.

Cats Hide their food, which is called caching when done by wild cats, is a natural behavior. It usually means the cat scratching the floor near their bowl. They are not really hiding the food, but that is what they are trying to do.

Keep reading to find out if this is a harmless action or if it means that something could be wrong with your kitty, and to see if there is anything that can be done to stop it.

1. Saving it for later

Cats are similar to humans. Sometimes, they are hungry little creatures that will devour anything you give them. Other times, they have less of a hunger and cannot eat all of the food you offer them.

If your cat is not that hungry, they may try to hide their food to protect it and so that they can come back to eat it later. This is more usual with cats that are given wet food at fixed times. If you leave food for them to nibble on, they know that the food will still be there later because it always is, so they may not want to try and conceal it.

6 reasons why cat hide their food
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

2. Protecting It From Others

If you have two or more cats in your household, or if you have a cat food-stealing dog that resides with you, your cat could be attempting to protect their food from others. This goes somewhat hand in hand with trying to save the food for later. They know they can’t eat the whole lot in one go but know that if they leave it, the canine of the household will come along and scoff the lot.

In the wild, cats would bury leftovers so that they can come back to it when they are hungry, confident that other animals would not be able to locate it.

3. Reserving It for Kittens

If you have a female cat that recently had kittens, or you have both mother and young kittens at home, the adult cat could be trying to save food for the young ones. Cats are naturally maternal, so they will do what they can to ensure that kittens eat and stay healthy. Paramount to a kitten’s health is a steady supply of good food, and the mother cat knows this.


4. Not Enough Time With Food

Cats do not usually wolf food down as quickly or as violently as dogs, which means that they need a little extra time at mealtime. Your cat might be worried that they won’t have enough time to eat the food before it is taken away.

Again, this is a problem that is usually inherent in cats that have a set mealtime rather than those that are given food to graze on throughout the day. It might seem like your cat is dawdling over its food, but give them a little more time to finish up and you will both be happier.

5. Too Much Food

If you overfeed your cat, they are more likely to feel the need to bury what is left. This can be a problem with rescue cats that might not have been given enough food earlier in life, and especially with stray and feral cats. They will recognize the potential for the food to be stolen by another animal and will want to protect it. It could be a sign that you are feeding too much food for your cat’s needs. It may also be a sign that your cat is getting food from somewhere else.

grey cat licking its paw michal dziekonski Unsplash
Image Credit: michal dziekonski, Unsplash

6. Cleaning Up

Although it might not always seem like it, cats are naturally quite tidy animals. They cover their poop when they use the litter tray, and your cat might recognize that bits of food on the floor or even left in the bottom of the bowl is somewhat untidy. A cat might try and tidy up food, especially dry kibble if they do recognize it as being messy.

Is Food Caching Unhealthy?

On the face of it, burying food is not an unhealthy habit, but you should try and determine why your cat considers it necessary to do so. If they are burying food because they can’t eat everything or because your dog is stealing their food as soon as their back is turned, it means that you need to take some action to ensure that they are getting everything they need from their diet.

How to Prevent Burying

Find out why your cat hide their food and try to fix the problem. Make sure you give the right amount of food per day, and if you give food at set times instead of leaving food for them to snack on, make sure it is divided into two or three meals throughout the day.

Do not take the food away as soon as your cat stops eating. Give them some time to relax and come back to eat more, and if you are giving the right amount but your cat keeps trying to hide the food, find out if they are getting food from somewhere else or if there is a health issue that is making them lose their hunger and dislike food.

If there is no clear reason for the scratching, it could just be a strange habit of your cat that is not harmful or destructive. Make sure you feed your cat on a hard surface that won’t be easily damaged by scratching, and if they are not hurting themselves or becoming too fixated on hiding their food, it shouldn’t be causing any trouble.

How to stop buring

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