Why Do Cats Cover Their Food? Should You Be Worried?

A grey cat taking food from a table

Do you ever wonder why do cats cover their food? It might seem like strange behaviour, but there’s actually a reason behind it. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why cats cover their food and why they developed this habit.

We’ll also provide tips on how to help prevent your cat from covering their food. So, if you’re curious about this quirky feline behaviour, keep reading!

Why Do Cats Cover Their Food? Cats covering their food are instinctive behaviours that they inherited from their wild ancestors. Coving their food is a defence measure to deter attracting other cats or predators from tracking them or their kittens.

why do cats cover their food? - Two cats eating out of a grey bowl

What Is Food Covering Called?

When cats cover their food, it’s called “caching.”

Why do cats cover their food (caching)? What is the main reason they do it? Caching has helped cats survive throughout history. Modern-day domestic cats are descendants of the African wildcat, which often buried their kills to hide them from other predators and keep them fresh for later.

Other Reasons Cats Might Bury Their Food:

To Save It For Later

Another theory for cats burying their food is that they may simply bury it and then come back for it later. For example, the food may have been too much to eat in one go or too rich, so the cat decided it would be a good idea to bury it and then come back for it later.

This might also be a tactic cats use when they’re feeding multiple kittens – the mother may bring all of them a small amount of food at each meal, but if she can’t eat it all, she might try to save some for later.

Because They Don’t Like The Smell

Your cat might cover their food because they don’t like its smell. Have you ever had a cat that covers its food even when they’re hungry? This is probably the reason! If your cat doesn’t like the smell of something, chances are they won’t want to eat it.

Another sign that your cat might not enjoy the scent of their food is if they only eat the food once and then walk away.

They Are Content With Their Meal

Cats might cover their food if they are full and happy with their meal. This is different from cats that bury their food to save it for later because they want to clean the area after finishing their meal.

Protecting Her Kittens

Cats may also cover their food to protect their kittens from predators. By covering the food, the scent of the food will be masked. They are making it very difficult for predators to find the kittens. Although this is a behaviour found in wild cats and feral cats, some mother cats will do this instinctively.

They don’t want to share their food.

Many cats are very protective of their food, and if you’ve ever seen them eat, they’ll hold it close to their chest to make sure no one tries stealing it. If you live in a multicat household, you might find your cat burying their food to avoid it being eaten by another cat.

There’s Too Much Food

Your cat may cover their food if there’s too much for them to eat in one go. This way, they can come back and eat it later when the extra food isn’t as appetizing. This is especially common for cats with sensitive stomachs.

They Are Being Territorial:

Cats are very territorial, and they’ll mark their territory to tell other cats, “this is my space.” So if your cat gets upset when you touch their food, it could be because their food is where they like to claim it as theirs. This also means that if your cat sees another cat eating its food or gets close to it, it’s not going to be happy.

Why Do Cats Cover Their Food And Can I Stop It?

If your cat is burying their food, there are several things you can do to help combat this behaviour:

  • Scoop Out Leftovers Immediately – Try to scoop out any leftover food as soon as possible after your cat has eaten, so they won’t have the chance to cover it.
  • Offer Smaller Portions – If you know your cat is covering their food because there’s too much, try offering smaller portions instead of one big meal. This will prevent them from piling up on extra food!
  • Feed Wet Food – Cats sometimes prefer wet foods over dry foods because they can be easier to scoop, and they often come in smaller portions.
  • Give Your Cat a Different Dish – If your cat is covering their food because it doesn’t like the smell of it, try switching up the dish you use. Some cats enjoy eating out of glass dishes or metal feeding bowls instead of plastic ones!
  • Trying different food types.

Should I Be Worried If My Cat Covers Their Food?

Typically there is nothing to worry about when cats cover their food. It’s natural for domesticated and wild cats, and if your cat isn’t experiencing any issues, you should leave them be!

If you are worried that your cat burying is becoming compulsive or worsening, you should seek the advice of your local vet!


So why do cats cover their food? Cats can cover their food for several different reasons. It could be because they don’t like the smell of it, they are territorial, or maybe there’s too much.

If your cat is burying their food, you should try scooping out any leftovers as soon as possible and then offering smaller portions to prevent them from piling on extra food. If that doesn’t work, try a different food type or dish!

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Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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