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Pet Bucket Blog

Why Do Cats Drag Food Out of Their Bowl?

 by jaime on 22 Jun 2014 |
1 Comment(s)
If you share your home with a cat, you may have noticed some strange behavior, including dragging food from the food bowl and hiding it throughout the house. This behavior may seem strange at first blush, but it is actually quite natural when you think about the evolution of the animal and its natural instincts.
Your pampered house pet may have access to all the food it could ever want, but not all cats are so lucky. Outdoor cats, feral cats and abandoned cats all have to scramble for every morsel of food, and when they get food they guard it carefully. That might mean dragging it back to their dens and sleeping areas, and your house cat is following the same ingrained pattern.
Your cat is also relying on millions of years of instinct and evolution when it drags away the food you so carefully placed in the bowl. If you are a fan of nature programs, you have probably seen a leopard drag its prey into a tree before enjoying its meal. Your cat may have lost its spots and much of its wildness, but the instincts are still the same. You simply cannot overcome millions of years of evolution by providing a pretty bowl and a ready source of food.
Past experience can also play a role in this seemingly puzzling behavior. If you adopted your cat from a shelter or took a previously feral cat into your home, you have no way of knowing what the animal went through before you found it. There may have been months, or even years, where food was scarce and hard to come by. Given that history, it is only natural for your cat to drag food out of its bowl and hide it any time it can.
You may not be able to change your cat's instincts or completely stop it from dragging food out of the bowl, but there are a few things you can do to make the problem less troublesome. If your cat routinely drags food back to its sleeping area, placing the food bowl closer to its bed can reduce the number of pieces scattered around the room.
Simply moving the food bowl to a location your cat finds safer and more secure can go a long way in alleviating this unwanted behavior. If the bowl is located in a high-traffic area, your cat may worry that the food will spill or get taken away. Moving the food bowl to a quieter and less well-traveled location should make the cat more secure and less likely to drag food away.
It also pays to look at the behavior of other household pets. If you have multiple cats, each cat should have its own food bowl, preferably close to where it sleeps or hangs out. If your cat fears that other pets will steal its food, it may try to get a jump on the thieves by emptying the bowl and relocating its contents piece by piece. The same is true of dogs. Your cat may worry that the family dog will get to the food bowl first and there will be nothing left to eat. Placing the food bowl out of the dog's reach can eliminate the threat and solve this unwanted behavior.
Stepping on cat food in the middle of the night is no fun. Those tiny pieces can be quite sharp, especially to bare feet. Getting to the source of the problem is the best way to stop your cat from dragging its dinner away and leaving it in the middle of the room!

Feature image credit



AbbyandSadiesMom - Comment
AbbyandSadiesMom25 Jun 2014Reply
I adopted a large, male, stray cat that I was initially feeding outside. This poor boy was scrawny when we first met and the vet had to remove every rotted tooth, except for his canines. Once he joined our Maine Coon, he started taking (wet) food from his bowl and eating it off the floor. Over time, he realized he could have his own food - the Maine Coon could care less. Now they're best buddies, more or less (like siblings), and he doesn't take food out of his bowl anymore. YAY! All it took was lots of patience and lots of love.

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