Each and every move of a pet cat is of vital importance to their loving owners.
Nowadays they are paying a lot of attention to a somewhat popular question “why does my cat try to bury her food?”
There is something mysterious here. Every cat family doesn’t share this trait but those who do, do it quite frequently.
But still, you can easily get to know the reasons and remedy for cats burying their food.
We will see that cats’ survival instinct is the main culprit here and following is the explanation of this assertion and an effective address to “why does my cat try to bury her food?”
Domestic cats are lesser likely to bury their foods than wilder cats or say stray cats.
There are multiple reasons why cats bury their food. There is a role of instinctive habits and preferences, a general or personalized dislike for different kinds of food.
Sometimes, they might want to communicate particular messages to their owner by burying their food.
Health issues may also cause an increased burying by cats.
Many people who are over cautious about their cats want to know the roots of this behaviour shown by them.
We are going to make a comprehensive dig into the all-important question “why does my cat try to bury her food”.
Burying the food is one of those cat habits that have an evolutionary trace and are shared among various species.
If your cat buries her food, you can definitely cure her. But most important is to know why she does so and at what scale she does.
Burying done on particular occasions determines its scale.
For example, a cat buries too much if she herself asks for food and even if you provide her with some delicious food, she eats it half and then buries the leftover. That means she is overly addicted to burying.
If she is affected by mood problems and then starts burying, the problem is at the lower scale. But looking up for the reasons is of utmost value here.
Cats’ History is a very comprehensive answer to the question “why does my cat try to bury her food?”
Cat is basically a wild animal, or to phrase it better, it’s a half-domesticated pet which often shows some wild traits as well.
Their evolutionary history has not seen big changes and that is the reason why even today the present shape of cats is not so different from that of many other species, digging the ground, burying food – for multiple reasons for sure – is still a part of their feline instinct.
In wild cats, there has been a tendency to bury the food left after eating meals.
Some sources say this food is utilized later when they are hungry or kept safe for their cousin cats to eat.
All these behaviours have an evolutionary history and make a psychological sense even when you see no apparent motivation for burying the food.
Another very important reason why cats show this behaviour is that they don’t want to attract any hunters towards them.
Leftover food is a clear message to the stray hunters that there is a prospect to hunt.
Left alone food also conveys to potential prey i.e. mice that hunter cats are nearby and cats have been proved smart enough to not let them be signalled so.
This behaviour has traversed through generations.
That is the reason why many kittens which have spent just a little more than normal in stray homes, show this behaviour more than normal as they have spent a lot of time in the company of wild fellows who often burry their food.
The Food Factor
If her food is not appealing her than she finds it comfortable to bury it rather than tossing it here and there.
Nevertheless, burying the food is her instinctive trait.
But unappealing food is not the only reason why cats bury their food, they bury their favourite food items as well.
If the food is wet, there is an even stronger urge to bury it. The scent is sharper in wet food that makes them think about avoiding hunters more proactively.
The protective approach of theirs gets active more quickly.
There could be more than one sources of a cat’s food. Cats have an internal tendency to hide from its owner if she is being fed by some other person so she has to hide the food.
A way she already knows is burying it.
So, if your cat has started to bury food or dig the floor out of blue, she might be being fed by some unknown source.
You better have a check.
One thing to remember here: As it is an evolutionary trait, it’s related more to a cat’s subconscious which is directly related to the condition of their health especially mental one.
Weak health may affect their brain, leading to a weakening of nerves as well.
Sick cats have shown burying habits more frequently than normal and the reason is a decreased control over her conscious, they become overly cautious and try to avoid any potential danger.
So bad health has been another major reason why cats bury their food.
This is actually related to the feelings of being unsafe. The cats who have just been cured of diseases and are spending time in crates also demonstrate similar behaviour.
How to get rid of this behaviour?
If you have made any changes in the food, revert to the one she used to eat earlier.
Maybe she was disturbed after a change in the menu. You can also try decreasing the amount of food she gets to eat and then observe her behaviour closely.
As thought of scarcity of the food is also a reason why cats bury the food, your smart way to deal with the issue should be to solve it from the roots.
You can bring some favourite prey of hers say mice, lower his consciousness using an injection or some medicine, and then leave him in the surroundings of a cat when she is having her meal.
Doing so gives her a message that even when there is food around, mice – a potential meal- , he will not run away so she still has food options.
Doing this process 2 to 3 times in a span of a week should do a lot in bringing her fears down.
Another technique you can employ is to make food readily available to your cat whenever she is hungry.
This is also an effective way to get your cat rid of food anxiety.
You can also divert her by vocally scolding her when she executes burying habits.
She does give attention when you orally forbid her from anything. This technique adds value to your goal but doesn’t give results overnight, takes some time.
You can also reward her with extra playtime and treats when she avoids burying.
One thing to remember is, don’t make it a routine to divert your cat from burying her food by rewarding her something pleasant as she can develop a habit of intentionally burying the food so as to take extra advantage.
This habit may get even stronger with time. So this technique could backfire as well.
You are also advised to not leave her food bowl with her after she is done with meal.
When she gives you a signal that she is done, take the bowl away.
Food spills shouldn’t be left on ground as well otherwise she might be prompted to bury them again.
Try to make fresh water available to her as well as water helps lower her body temperature which has some biological advantages i.e. lowering the stress levels etc.
All in all, it is not an odd thing to see if cats bury their food. There is nothing to worry about it. Any cat can happen to show this trait at any time. Just follow the techniques explained above and you will be able to pacify them. In case see any symptom other than those mentioned above, you should concern your vet.
- Litchfield CA, Quinton G, Tindle H, Chiera B, Kikillus KH, Roetman P (2017) The ‘Feline Five’: An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis catus). PLoS ONE 12(8): e0183455. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183455
- Blumberg MS., Development evolving:The origins and meanings of instinct, doi: 10.1002/wcs.1371
- Poole, K. The Contextual Cat: Human–Animal Relations and Social Meaning in Anglo-Saxon England. J Archaeol Method Theory 22, 857–882 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9208-9
- Jon Bowen, BVetMed, MRCVS, Dipl. AS (CABC), feeding behavior in cats
Dinu Sri Madusanka
Hi, I’m a researcher who is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Nanotechnology. In my free time, I gives my contribution to Walk with Cat by writing, reviewing and analyzing information.