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Why do Cats Try to Bury Their Food? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

Cat digging a hole

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats have long confused their owners; they have many odd habits that humans can’t wrap their heads around. One of these many habits is when they scratch the floor around their food bowl. They’re obviously trying to bury it, but why? There’s no logical reason for them to do this.

Well, cats are not always logical creatures. There are many reasons cats attempt to bury their food. Keep reading if you want to know why your cat buries its food and if you should be worried about it.

The 4 Reasons Cats Try to Bury Their Food

1. They’re Covering Their Trail

Cats in the wild have a lot to fear since there are predators around every corner. Your cat may be burying or caching their food in order to hide its scent from other predators. A predator can’t track what it can’t smell, and that means your cat is safe.

Of course, there is no predator in your home for your cat to protect themselves from, but they do it, nonetheless. Cats sometimes act strange (to us) because of their instincts, which is why your cat must cover its tracks. They probably don’t know why they do it any more than you do.

2. Saving Their Food for Later

Cats aren’t constantly hungry and won’t always eat their food when it’s presented. Some felines may attempt to bury their food to ensure they can return to it later. This behavior is most commonly exhibited by cats with specific mealtimes or those living with other animals that may eat their food.

feral cat eating outdoor
Image Credit: Laura Bartlett, Shutterstock

3. They’re Trying to Clean Up

It’s a well-known fact that cats are hygienic animals; this doesn’t just apply to how they clean themselves but also how they keep their living space clean. If a cat recognizes something as dirty, it’ll typically try to fix it. Cats cover their poop up in litter boxes, and some do the same with food.

If your cat thinks its food looks untidy and stray pieces are lying on the ground, it may attempt to clean up after itself.

4. Saving It for Kittens

If your cat recently had kittens, they may be the reason your cat is attempting to bury its food. The mother might be trying to save the food for them. A mother cat’s primary goal is keeping its kittens safe and healthy, and they know that a steady supply of food is the most critical part of kitten care.

They don’t even have to be the cat’s kittens; a cat that has previously been a mother will save food for kittens that aren’t hers.

stray kittens using an outdoor DIY shelter
Image Credit: PhilippT, Pixabay


Cats have a few reasons for burying their food, whether it’s to save it for their kittens or to cover their tracks. The last thing you want to do is punish your cat for covering its food, as it’s only doing what comes naturally.

If you’re worried about your cat burying its food, it’s best to be patient and loving and get the cat to trust you so that it doesn’t need to hide its meal when it’s in your home. You can also speak to your vet for advice or ask for a recommendation for a veterinary behaviorist.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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