Why Cats Cover Up Their Food

Why Cats Cover Up Their Food

Today at lunch time our kitten, Zorro, scarfed down his raw meal and then went around and tried to bury his brother’s food. I think it’s cute but what’s up with cats who do this? I looked into it and here’s what I learned about why cats cover up their food, instinctively.

Why Cats Cover Up Their Food

  • Preserving the food for later. Wild cats cover up their food when they’ve basically killed too much prey to eat. This is an attempt to hide the smell from other animals (which doesn’t really work well) so they can return for more munchies later. Once they walk away from their buried prey, however, it’s fair game to any other hungry animal. Our domesticated kitties have stomachs about the size of a ping pong ball, so if we feed them more than they can eat, they’ll likely try to preserve some for later. If this happens, pick it up and save some for later. Otherwise the sibling kitties may eat it.
  • Hiding the scent from predators. It’s instinctive for cats to cover up their food so as to not attract animals that may want to eat them. It’s true that cats are predators, but they’re also prey. If a predatory animal smells the scent of their food, they will know that their prey is near. Covering up the scent with dirt, sand, etc. gives them extra time to escape from possible predators.

We used to think that our cats disliked their food if they were covering it up, but now we know better. If your kitty only eats some of her food and then tries to cover up the rest, try feeding smaller amounts. Feeding 3 times per day in smaller amounts is a good way to ensure that your cat is eating in healthy portions. Plus, you won’t waste any food!

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