Why do cats dig and scratch around their food bowl?
This is a common behaviour in cats that dumfounds a lot of pet owners. In fact, this is perfectly normal behaviour for a cat. There are several possible theories as to why they engage in this behaviour.
- Wild members of the cat family, as well as feral cats, have all been observed burying any uneaten food. This keeps it safe from other animals until they are ready to go back for more.
- I wonder if another reason they bury their food is to keep it cooler and therefore slow down the rate in which it will spoil? After all, a dead rat, mouse, bird will rot faster if it is exposed to the blazing sun than if it is buried under soil or loose vegetation.
- Some cat owners have said that their cat only tries to bury food that they dislike, again, this leads back to the possibility of disposing of 'unwanted/leftover' food.
- A final possible 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.
Obviously, domesticated cats have no 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.
This behaviour is harmless and really doesn't need to be corrected. However, 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. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that wet food not be left in the bowl for longer than 30-60 minutes, particularly in summer. If your cat is turning his nose up at the food entirely, try feeding him another brand, unless of course, he is on a prescription diet. Alternatively, heating it up in the microwave for 30 seconds can sometimes entice him to eat.