Why does my cat try to cover his food?

Our question this week was:

When my one cat (Yarrow) has eaten his fill of the moist food will scratch outside the dish as if to cover it, flip the dish over, or cover the dish with one or more of his toys. Is this common and if so why does he do it?

Linda Daufenbach


Hi – thanks for your email Linda. You wrote asking why does your cat try to cover his food.

There are different answers and I’m not sure which one is correct. Many cats will paw near their dish and try to “bury” their food when they have had enough. I’m not sure if they do it for the same reason as dogs –that is bury their food to hide it and have something to go back to later or some other reason.

There are different theories and I’ve never heard any of them as the definitive answer.

Some believe they bury something they don’t like. I don’t think this is the case because many cats do it when they are “done” eating something that they appeared to enjoy.

Other cats will do this as a way to hide their presence as a survival instinct. For the same reasons cat bury their feces, they may try to hide that they were in a particular location.


Dr. Debra

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