Why do cats bury or ‘cover’ their food?

Cats truly are one of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.

Working out what they’re doing from one random behaviour to the next can be as entertaining as it is intriguing.

Jumping up and down on furniture; eating grass; lovingly bumping you with their head. There isn’t a day that goes by where our funny felines don’t make us smile.

Watching them scratch around their bowl as they seemingly attempt to bury their food is another strange sight many pet parents will have grown accustomed to.

On the surface, it looks like they’re telling us they’re not happy with the chef’s special of the day. But dig a little deeper and you’ll come to learn that’s most likely not the case.

There’s actually a number of theories why cats engage in this puzzling type of behaviour; the main one being it’s simply in their DNA.

In the wild, cats hunt and kill their prey, eating what they can before burying any remains to conceal the evidence from nearby predators, as well as other potential prey who could be alerted to their presence by a trail of leftovers.

Even the cutest, domesticated cat still carries some of that wild ancestral genetic makeup. So, while they may be safely squirrelled away in your home, don’t be surprised to see their predatory instincts take over every so often.

Does this mean my cat doesn’t like its food?

If you didn’t like something on your plate when you were younger, chances are you tried to hide it from view, hoping and praying your parents weren’t paying too much attention when they told you to ‘Eat all those greens’.

Cats can be fussy eaters too — but if they’re not entirely happy with what’s in their bowl they’ll usually show their displeasure in other ways. The most obvious sign being their meal remains untouched, or they’ll take a couple of bites, and then walk away, refusing to return.

Burying or hiding their food, doesn’t necessarily mean your cat dislikes their food though. On the contrary, burying their food could actually be a sign that they’re enjoying mealtime. The fact they’re hiding it may be because they want to come back to it later and don’t want any other pets coming along and sneaking a taste in the meantime.

Working out why a cat is behaving in a certain way can feel like an impossible task at times, so it’s best to be on the lookout for as many signs as possible.

If they’re burying their food, but not actually eating it, you may have an unhappy customer on your hands. If they’ve only started ‘playing’ with what’s in front of them following a switch in brand, you might need to investigate further.

Whenever you notice any changes around your felines’ eating habits though, we’d always advise you to be as vigilant as possible.

Should I be worried about this type of behaviour?

A cat burying their food is completely normal, instinctive behaviour. It’s a relatively common sight, and on the whole is nothing a pet parent needs to be unduly concerned about.

However, if the scratching that can accompany food-burying is leading to damaged flooring, or causing your cat harm, then you may want to step in.

Try different flavours if you think it may be down to them disliking a particular dish. Instead of filling up their bowl to the brim, maybe serve up mealtime in smaller portions, so there’s no food left for them to ‘bury’.

If they’ve started doing it out of the blue, keep a close eye on them, noting down any other subtle changes in their behaviour.

Never punish a cat for burying their food. They’re either acting out of instinct, or there’s a reason for it. Take time to work out what that reason is.

If you believe it’s medical, or the behaviour has started to become obsessive, to the point it’s interfering with their eating, you should contact a vet.

Always serve up a healthy and well-balanced diet

One way of ruling out a possible dislike of food is to serve up mealtimes your feline finds impossible to resist.

Cats thrive on a diet that’s rich in protein and made with natural ingredients. And they’re far more likely to be licking their bowls clean – and filling up their bodies with all that goodness – if what they’re eating is full of flavour.

Encore’s cat food range features an irresistible line-up of delicious recipes that will keep your cat happy, healthy and full.

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