Why Does My Cat Scratch Around His Food

Why Does My Cat Scratch Around His Food

If you have a feline companion, you may have noticed that they often engage in a behavior known as scratching around their food before eating. This peculiar habit may have left you wondering why exactly they do it. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior and help you understand your cat a little better.

1. Instinctual Behavior:

One of the primary reasons why cats scratch around their food is rooted in their instinctual behavior. In the wild, cats are natural hunters who stalk and capture their prey. Scratching the ground around their food is a way for them to simulate the act of covering up their kill or cache their prey to keep it hidden from other potential predators.

2. Marking Territory:

Cats have scent glands in their paws, and scratching the ground around their food helps them mark their territory. By leaving their scent, they are essentially declaring ownership over the area and its contents. This behavior is more commonly seen in multi-cat households where each feline wants to establish its dominance.

Why Does My Cat Scratch Around His Food

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3. Preparing for the Hunt:

Scratching around their food also serves as a way for cats to prepare for the hunt. By pawing at the ground, they develop and maintain their hunting skills. This behavior helps them stay sharp and focused, ensuring they are ready to pounce when an opportunity arises.

Why Does My Cat Scratch Around His Food

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4. Sensory Stimulation:

Another reason behind this behavior is sensory stimulation. Cats have sensitive paw pads, and scratching the ground allows them to feel different textures and surfaces. It provides mental and physical stimulation for them, similar to how we might fidget or tap our fingers when we’re restless or excited.

5. Displeasure with the Bowl:

Occasionally, when a cat scratches around its food, it may be indicating that it is not satisfied with the condition of the bowl. Some cats prefer to have their food spread out, as they might perceive a pile of food as less appetizing. If you notice this behavior, try using a wider and shallower dish to see if your cat prefers it.

6. Hygiene and Cleanliness:

Cats are known to be clean animals, and scratching around their food may also be a way for them to keep their eating area clean. By pawing at the ground, they might be trying to remove any debris or dirt that could contaminate their meal. This behavior is particularly noticeable with cats who dislike having any foreign objects near their food.


While the exact reason behind a cat’s scratching behavior around its food may vary from one feline to another, it is generally a combination of their instinctual nature, marking territory, preparing for the hunt, seeking sensory stimulation, expressing displeasure with the bowl, and maintaining hygiene. It is essential to observe and understand your cat’s unique personality and preferences to ensure their overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions For Why Does My Cat Scratch Around His Food

Why Does My Cat Scratch Around His Food?

Cats scratch around their food instinctively to bury it and save it for later consumption.

Is It Normal For Cats To Scratch Their Food Bowl?

Yes, it is normal for cats to scratch their food bowl as it mimics their natural behavior of burying food to hide the smell from potential predators.

How Can I Prevent My Cat From Scratching Around His Food?

To prevent your cat from scratching around his food, you can provide a separate area for him to bury food, such as a designated digging box or a shallow tray filled with sand.

Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor After Eating?

Scratching the floor after eating can be a territorial behavior that helps mark their territory with scent glands located in their paws.

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