Why Is Your Cat Trying To Bury Food?


It feels like it happens all the time now. You go to feed your cats, and everything is normal at first. Then, after you’ve been gone, the cats start acting up. Have you ever caught your cat trying to bury their leftovers?

Here is a list of reasons that may trigger this behavior

  1. Too Much Food
  2. Strong Scents
  3. They Just Like Clean Spaces
  4. Cats Are Obligate Carnivores
  5. Their Instincts Take Over
  6. Preserving Kills Would Have Been Extremely Important

From time to time, cats will bury their meals. You aren’t the first to find yourself in that situation. However, the question remains. Why would they do something like this at all?

6 Main Reasons Cat Trying To Bury Food

Why Is Your Cat Trying to Bury Food

Sometimes, we happen to be doing something that encourages our cats to bury food. It isn’t always the case. However, if you find yourself doing any of these things, it might help if you stopped. Cats respond to our behaviors. And, they’ll learn rather quickly. By stopping bad habits, you can free up some space to implement better ones.

Too Much Food

After your cats finish eating, how much food is left in their bowls? There shouldn’t be a ton of food in them. If there is, you shouldn’t be surprised if your cats start burying it.

The best way to tackle this would be to simply give them less food.

For example, if you’ve been giving them a half cup of food at dinner, then you might try lowering it to a quarter cup. It could take a little bit of experimentation to find the proper amount. Still, it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Strong Scents

Another reason why your cats might do this would be to hide any scents. Strong smells are like a beacon to animals in the wild.

Wild cats bury food so that other animals can’t find them. Although it might not smell too strong to us, it could be overwhelming for a feline. They’ve got a much stronger sense of smell than the average human. So, even light odors to us could be a big deal to them.

They Just Like Clean Spaces

On the other hand, it could be even less complicated. Domesticated cats are quite similar to their wild counterparts. However, they aren’t identical. Sometimes, domestic cats are finicky about their space.

Have you ever known someone who was OCD about how clean everything was? Well, the same kinds of personalities develop in cats sometimes too. Your cat could just be tidying up after mealtimes.

Other Natural Reasons Why Cat Covers Food

Sometimes the burying food behavior can be caused by their natural instinct picked up when they are still living in the wild. This may explain why sometimes your cat tries to cover his/her food.

Cats Are Obligate Carnivores

Let’s talk about a cat’s natural environment for a second. After all, they aren’t that far removed from the wild. Cats still have strong instincts. So, you’ll find they do all sorts of weird things occasionally. In their natural element, cats are predators. They’ve perfectly adapted themselves for this role.

In fact, they must eat meat to live.

Without any meat, they’ll wither away. However, in nature, there aren’t any refrigerators. Not to mention, there won’t be any people to help open their canned food.

Preserving their kills becomes super important as a result. So, wild cats will bury their prey to preserve them as leftovers.

Their Instincts Take Over

Even domestic cats still have these instinctual holdovers. After they finish up diner, they might want to save some for later. Taking their unfinished food and burying it is perfectly natural. It would be the first thing to cross a cat’s mind.

Preserving Kills Would Have Been Extremely Important

Why would this be the first thing to cross a cat’s mind? Well, there are a few reasons for that. First, it’ll make sure they’ve got something to eat later. Plus, it would help to mask any scents. That way, nothing else will find their leftovers. Staying hidden is of the utmost importance for a wild cat.

[Related Article: Can Cats Survive In The Cold Or Will They Freeze To Death?]

Why Does My Cat Scratch Around Her Food

Why Does My Cat Scratch Around Her Food

Not all burying is a problem. If your cat is dirtying up the house, then that is one thing. However, if they eat their meals outside, they can’t cause too much damage. Leave them alone unless they are causing a problem.

Here are some behaviors you can identify on why your cat is scratching around her food.

When Do They Bury Food?

After you’ve kept an eye on them for a while, you’ll start to notice patterns. Most of the time, cats will bury things habitually. Interrupt their patterns to break the habit. To do that, you can try a number of approaches.

We’ve always been a fan of the old spray bottle trick. Cats don’t like getting wet. By spraying them with some mist, you can disrupt them. Spray them right as they are about to start burying food. That ought to do the trick.

Are There Any Common Triggers?

Occasionally, cats don’t do things on a time schedule. Instead, they’ll do things as a reaction. For example, does your cat seem to bury food as soon as you come home? It could be some sort of response to the excitement.

Does Your Cat Seem to Be Anxious?

Felines are just like us in so many ways. Stress affects them almost as badly as it does a human. You can check on your cat to see if they are anxious. How are they breathing?

If they seem to be panting, that’s a sign they aren’t relaxed.

Look at their pupils. How dilated are they? Large pupils are a sign of elevated adrenaline levels. If you happen to notice those signs, then something is stressing out your kitty. That could be the reason they are burying food in the first place.

4 Ways to Stop Your Cats From Burying Food

Now, you should’ve isolated the reason this is occurring. Taking care of the problem should be a lot easier. Depending on the cause, you’ll want to approach the problem differently.

However, on the whole, training cats is straightforward. The most important thing to remember is consistency. Cats aren’t as willing to learn as dogs most of the time. That doesn’t mean they are untrainable. It’ll just take a bit more time and effort.

Keep an Eye on Them at Feeding Time

First, you’ll want to ensure they don’t leave food behind. Watching them at dinner time makes this simple. Once they finish eating, just put away their leftovers. That way, there’s nothing for them to bury.

Take the Food Away Once They Finish

Consistently taking away their food helps to break their old habits. By doing it every time, you’ll make them develop new ones.

Use a Spray Bottle to Stop Them While in the Act

Eventually, you can leave their food down. As long as you’ve broken their old habits, they shouldn’t give you any trouble. If they do, hit them with a quick spritz of a spray bottle. That ought to stop them in their tracks.

Notice if there are any triggers or patterns

If you’ve been struggling with this sort of behavior, you’re probably wondering how to correct it. Correcting a cat’s behavior is relatively straightforward. You’d want to start off by observing your cat.

Collect data on when exactly they try to bury food. From there, you can try to figure out if there are any common triggers.

[Related Article: 10 Simple Ways To Stop Cats From Pooping In Plant Pots]

Wrap Up

Don’t worry too much about your cats if they are burying food. It’s not a sign of any health issues. Burying food is actually an instinctual response. You can get them to stop doing it by helping them build new habits. Training a cat is not the same as training a dog, but it is still possible.

Fixing the problem at that point would be a lot simpler. Of course, you can always take away their food. Then, there wouldn’t be anything for them to bury.

Sarah Jones

Sarah is a passionate pet lover who owns several pets on her own. She loves to share her experience doing part-time writing to impart some useful tips to other pet owners.

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