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Why Do Cats Bury Food? Are They Hiding It From Other Cats?

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One of the most curious behaviors of cats is their tendency to bury food. While it may seem like the cat’s behavior is a waste of perfectly good dry kibble, there’s actually a reason why cats do this.

Why do cats bury food? It’s thought that this behavior is ancestral, dating back to wild cats. Wild cats needed to hide their food from predators. By burying their food, they were able to keep it safe and make sure they had something to eat in case of lean times. For some cats, it may be a way to assert their territoriality.

While most domesticated cats don’t have to worry about predators, the urge to bury her food is still strong in many of them.

It makes no difference if your cat is domesticated or a feral cat living in the wild, cats have natural instincts ingrained in their DNA. These natural instincts are even rooted in cats that do not go outside, have never been out, and are considered in-door cats.

Natural Instincts of Cats Is To Bury Food

Cats do not do anything without a purpose or reason, no matter how bizarre their actions may seem to you. These natural instincts have helped cats survive in the wild for thousands of years. 

cat eating from stainless steel bowl

Cats are going to continue to do what cats do best, naturally. Understanding why cats do what they do helps you understand natural instincts and why the two go hand in hand. Of course all cats are different so what one cat does behavior wise does not necessarily mean that another cat will do the same.

  • Cats are crepuscular, meaning they eat, roam, play, and get into trouble usually while you sleep. Dawn and dusk are the most active time for cats.

    Whether your cat sleeps the night away, as some do, or sleeps the day away, cats sleep upwards of 18 hours out of a 24 hour day.

  • Cats are territorial, meaning they mark territory as theirs by rubbing their body on things throughout your house, including you. When cats in the wild, like feral cats, they marks their territory, telling other animals to be aware.

  • Cats are fiercely independent, more so than dogs. Cats deliver their babies, clean up their mess, and care for their kittens.

  • Cats are not high on the social butterfly list. The cat is social on their terms and when they want to be social.

  • Cats take humans with a grain of salt. This does not mean they do not need your attention or do not love you; they will get back to you later.

  • Cats entertain themselves in unique ways.

  • Cats bathe themselves but may need help with nails, ears, noses, and oral care.

  • Cats seek out quiet hiding places.

  • Cats love to be on the hunt and stalk their prey, even if it is a toy mouse.

  • Cats try to cover up their food or bury it when they are done eating. 

  • And cats love to scratch.

Related Reading: Growing cat grass for your cat is a simple thing to do. No green thumbs required. Give it a go, you cat will love you!

two cats eating

Why Does My Cat Try To Bury Her Wet Food?

If you have not already noticed, cats love to scratch.

Scratching is a big part of a cat’s life.

Cats scratch when they want to do the following:

Cover Poop
Sharpen Nails
Mark Territory
Cover Food
Have Fun

I often wonder why cats try to bury their food, and the following may give a cat owner some insight into this action.

If your cat lives inside only, and you give it some wet food, they eat what they want, but now they are scratching the floor next to their bowl in an attempt to bury the food.

This happens to leftover dry food too. I am sure you wonder why cats want to bury food?

Cats always have a reason.

Cat researchers who studied this came up with possible reasons. However, remember that it is a natural survival and instinctive behavior when your cat tries to bury the food. The reasons relate more to ancestral behavior but still manifest in our modern world.

cats in the wild buried their food

Cats Bury Food Because of The Following Reasons

  • Cats who fend for themselves in the wild, commonly bury leftover food so that it does not attract predators or unwanted visitors to their territory. 

  • Cats in the wild must hunt for food. If they do not bury their food and a possible food source for the cat, sees this leftover food, it sends out a high alert that the cat’s potential next meal is them, and they will quickly leave the area.

  • Cats bury food if the food is spoiled or they do not like it. 

  • When a cat has eaten all it wants, it may bury the food to save the remaining for later, much like a squirrel when burying nuts for the winter.

    However, burying food to save for a later meal is probably not on a cat’s to-do list. Unless a cat has a minimal food supply, they might do this, but it is not likely.

  • Cats like things clean, neat, and tidy, and some think that a cat is cleaning up after their meal. 
why do cats bury food

Do All Cats Bury Food?

No, not all cats bury their food. The behavior of food caching wild cats is way to hide their food. This safeguards it from potential predators and it is harder for other animals to find.

The food is in a safe place that they can return to when they need it.

Our domestic cats may do this as well.

Some cats may also bury their food as a way to hide it from other cats in a multi-cat household. Other cats may simply eat their food immediately or leave it out in the open without any attempt to bury it.

Burying food is not a universal behavior among all cats. it can vary depending on the individual cat and its environment.

Are There Concerns Around A Cat that wants to bury his food?

Cats that bury food may be showing signs of anxiety or stress, and could even lead to food-related aggression or other behavioral issues.

Consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist if you notice your cat exhibiting unusual behavior around their food.

why do cats want to bury their food sometimes

Related Reading: Do you sometimes wonder if you should or should not feed a particular food to our cat. This article explains what NOT to feed your domestic cat.

How To Stop My Cat From Trying To Bury His Food

Asking yourself the question, why do cats bury food, may have you thinking twice about trying to stop a cat’s natural instincts. What are your reasons for wanting to stop your cat burying food?

It is unnecessary to stop your cat scratching, unless your cat is hurting you or causing unsightly and costly damage to your home, which is unlikely. When I see my cats pawing at the floor, mimicking burying food, it is either because they:

  • Are hiding it from other animals (an ancestral behavior and more prevalent in some cats than others) they want to keep the food fresh, another ancestral behavior.
  • Its an instinct, other animals may be around and they need to bury food so that they can come back to it later.
  • They are marking their territory. They leave their scent to indicate it is their territory.
Can you remember where you buried that tasty chicken?

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