Why Do Cats Bury Their Food?

Cats bury their food by pushing it under litter or other materials with their paws. They cover up any uneaten food this way. Cats have a natural instinct to do this from their wild ancestors. Hiding food kept it safe from other animals in the wild.

Why do cats bury their food? This is a common behavior often seen in pet cats. You may have caught your feline in the act, quickly raking litter over any remaining kibble in its bowl. Their natural instinct to cover up food stems from living as solitary hunters in the wild.

Cats burying food is thought to be a carryover from their time as wild cats. In the past, food left uncovered risked being scavenged by other predators. By covering food, cats ensure nobody else can steal it while they are away. This allows the cat to return to the “cache” to finish eating later, protecting a source of future meals.

What Instincts Drive Cats To Bury Their Leftover Cat Food?

Cats have natural instincts that drive them to bury leftover cat fooTheir wild ancestors had to hunt for food and ensure it did not go to waste. Cats today still have remnants of those primal urges despite living comfortably in homes. Burying food satisfies instincts rooted deep in a cat’s DNA.

Some possible reasons cats bury food include securing it from other animals and marking their territory. Is Blue Buffalo good cat food? Sometimes cats do so because they feel stressed or want comfort. Their food burying behavior fulfills needs hardwired from their time as resilient yet cautious predators.

Hunting Instincts And Food Storage

When cats hunted independently in earlier times, they needed to stash leftover kills or excess fooThis allowed cats to return to eat more if still hungry. It also prevented scavengers from stealing a cat’s hard-won meal. Today, cats satisfy the instinct to stash extra food by burying leftovers. Burying relies on primordial drives to conserve food sources.

Even well-fed house cats retain the urge to stash servings as if storing for leaner days. Their natural predatory past motivates this caching behavior seen when cats cover bowls after eating. Burying remains an inherent demand based on how cats evolved to survive uncertainties.

Marking Territory By Spreading Scent

Cats use scent markings, like facial rubbing or urine, to signal their presence to others. Burying food lets cats spread their odor around an areThis helps cats inform competitors that the place belongs to them. Scents communicate boundaries without a physical confrontation.

By stirring up dirt and pressing paws into it, cats deposit scent particles from glands. These remain after food removal, letting cats map their territory through smell. Burying behavior fulfills an instinctive drive to indicate possession through odor signatures recognized by other cats.

Protection From Other Animals

In ancestral times, cats had to shield food caches from thieves like coyotes or foxes. This need to safeguard eats transferred to modern home life. Cats sense vulnerability in open food and shield it as their forebears did long ago.

Covering bowls mimics the defense techniques of wild cats. Burying deters scavengers from uncovering edible finds. It satisfies an inherited impulse to conceal food amid natural covers affording protection. Cats use dirt, toys or fabric as natural camouflage just as wilderness cats relied on soil and foliage.

Stress Relief And Comfort Behavior

Some cats bury objects when agitated as a calming ritual. The act of pawing, scraping and covering engages their paws in a soothing activity. It provides physical and mental relief from factors like noise, new people or changes in schedule.

Burying also satisfies a want for control during uncertain times. Cats gain comfort through controlling an area’s smell and presence of fooThis behavior reflects ingrained ways cats reduce stress through repetition of ancestral defensive behaviors. Burying gives skittish cats an outlet for anxiety by exercising instincts for safety.

Why Does My Cat Try to Bury Her Food?

Why Does My Cat Try to Bury Her Food?

Cats bury their food because it’s an instinctual behavior linked to their wild ancestors. In the wild, burying food helps them hide their scent from potential predators and rivals, preserving their territory and food source. Additionally, burying food may also be a way for cats to save it for later, mimicking their hunting behavior.

Another reason your cat might try to bury her food is to keep it fresh. By covering it with litter or dirt, she may believe she’s preserving it for later consumption. This behavior can also stem from a natural inclination to keep their eating area clean, as in the wild, leaving food uncovered could attract unwanted attention from predators.

Does My Cat Actually Eat The Buried Cat Food Later?

Sometimes cats do go back to eat food they previously covered However, most buried servings get abandoned and left to spoil. Cats often forget sites or lose interest in returns if stress levels decline. Burial satisfies instincts but generally does not store food for later as it did for wild cats.

Cats May Revisit Some Buried Food

On occasion, cats will return days later to uncover and consume treats they had stasheThis shows they remembered a location and the food remained fresh. Revisiting buried food shows how strongly hardwired those conservation instincts remain in some indoor cats. Yet more often than not, home cats do not eat food they sheltered beneath ground layers.

Most Buried Food Is Eventually Abandoned

Most of the time, cats will not seek out food they entombed days or weeks earlier. Indoor environments lack pressures on wild cats to conserve calories. Domino did not grow up needing to cache each bite. So when anxiety recedes for home cats, their drives to return diminish due to full bowl replacements. Burial behaviors satisfy instincts, not nutritional demands.

Cats Forget Where They Buried Some Food

Given their burying is rarely to actually store food, cats readily lose track of cache sites. Without consistent needs to relocate stashes, indoor cats do not rigorously track interment points. Some stows remain never retrieved as felines fail recalls after distraction or stress fading. Short-term memory causes abandonment despite strong burying instincts.

Buried Food Can Go Bad Before Being Found Again

Even cats recalling spots may discover rotten remains. Without diligent retrieval plus preservative techniques of wilderness peers, household food goes uneaten. Refrigeration absent, residence caches last days versus wilderness caches’ weeks. Bacteria thrives where moisture meets nutrients, hindering future consumption.

How Can I Prevent My Cat From Burying Uneaten Cat Food?

With understanding of drives fueling burial plus food safety issues, guardians aim to satisfy urges healthily. Adjusting feeding methods redirects burying into constructive outlets.

Provide The Right Amount Of Cat Food At Mealtimes

It is important to provide the correct portion of cat food at each meal to prevent unnecessary burying of leftovers. The following table shows general guidelines for daily food amounts based on a cat’s size and life stage:

Cat Size/Life StageRecommended Daily Food Amount (cups)
Kittens 4-6 months1/2 – 1
Kittens 7-12 months1 – 1.5
Adult small cats <10 lbs1/2 – 1
Adult medium cats 10-15 lbs3/4 – 1 1/2
Adult large cats >15 lbs1 – 2
Indoor adult cats1/2 – 1
Outdoor adult cats1 – 1.5

By providing the proper portion based on your cat’s profile, you can help satisfy their hunger and minimize extra food that may then get buried. Adjust amounts as needed if weight changes occur.

Use A Slow Feeding Bowl Or Puzzle Toy

Challenging food dispensing engages cats’ natural foraging, tiring them past burying urges. Puzzle toys requiring effort mimes hunting, satisfying drives to stash hardly anything.

Clean Up Leftovers Right Away

Removing any uneaten amounts the moment meals end takes away what cats would otherwise feel compelled to protect or hide.

Use An Enclosed Feeding Station

Portable feeding nooks constrain eating and discourage burial around the house.

IWhat Else Might My Cat Be Burying Around The House?

Beyond food, cats satisfy instincts by occasionally burying additional items. Understanding why informs better guidance.

Toys, Dirty Laundry, Plants, Poop

Natural urges inspire burying anything cats regard as waste, prey or property. Interred toys show a cat stowing a “kill” whereas soiled clothes mimic “dig a latrine” behaviors.

Small Items Or Trinkets Lying Around

Anything loose and movable may attract cats wanting to arrange their home environment. Burying exercises instincts for areas of influence.

What Does It Mean If My Cat Buries These Items?

When cats bury toys, it shows play-pretend hunting behavior. Covering scat mimics instincts to disguise waste aromOverall, item burial simply satisfies natural drives to manipulate their home environment to feel secure through arrangements.

How To Cat-Proof Against Item Burial

To avoid lost items, securely stow small objects. Cleanup promptly after play to leave nothing movable. Consider cat-proof waste bins and providing sand box editions for pawing urges. target legal outlets.

Should I Be Concerned About My Cat’s Burial Habits?

In most cases, burial arises from normal instincts and requires no concern. But understanding signs helps address underlying issues.

Is It Normal Cat Behavior?

Typically burial behavior alone warrants no alarm and happens occasional and natural.

When To See The Vet About Compulsive Burial

Excessive or frantic burying suggests stress. Seeking medical assistance ensures no underlying health issues exist.

Tips For Dealing With Stress-Related Burial

Provide familiarity through unchanged routines. Give affection to boost confidence. Feliway diffusers may also help relaxed cats.

Fun Ways To Encourage Appropriate Burial Outlets

Designated boxes filled with soft substrates invite natural pawing. Interactive toys provide mental stimulation tiring cats past other burials. Praising positive burial outlets reinforces those behaviors.

With comprehension, responsible guardians can feel at ease over typical food burying while also deflecting or addressing concerns promoting surer feline health. Understanding instincts enlightens non-stressful cohabitation.

Frequently Asked Question

What Instincts Cause Cats To Bury Food?

Cats’ natural hunting instincts and urges to conserve food sources drive them to cover up leftover food, satisfying primordial needs to stash and protect excess prey.

Do Cats Really Eat Food They’ve Buried Later?

While cats may occasionally return to eat buried food they remember, most covered items are quickly forgotten or spoiled before being rediscovered.

Why Do Some Cats Bury Random Things Around The House?

Burying toys, clothes or other loose items allows cats to arrange scents and organize their territory in ways that fulfill instincts to control their environment.

Is All Food Burial Behavior Cause For Concern?

Normal occasional food burying alone is not a problem as it satisfies natural urges, but excessive or erratic burial could indicate stress issues warranting a vet check for medical causes.

How Can You Redirect A Cat’s Burying Instincts Positively?

Providing acceptable outlets like sandboxes, interactive toys or appropriate areas encourages natural behaviors productively while also cat-proofing to remove triggers for unwanted burial around the home.


Understanding the natural reasons for this behavior provides insight into why indoor cats still feel compelled to cover up leftovers or stash other items. With some adjustments to feeding routines and by providing approved outlets, guardians can satisfy a cat’s innate urges while preventing unwanted food concealment around the home.

Overall, occasional burying of food alone typically poses no health issues as it fulfills ancient drives wired into a cat’s very DNA. For most felines, some light pawing and covering now and then suffices without causing real issues. For cats exhibiting very frequent or obsessive burial, checking for illness and ensuring mental well-being remains wise.

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