Why Do Cats Cover Their Food? The Storage Strategy


Have you ever watched your cat try to cover its food as if hiding some valuable treasure? If so, you’ve probably wondered why on Earth they do it. Well, like most cat behaviors, it’s not random—there’s a logic behind it.

The Natural Instincts

Survival Mechanisms

The act of covering food is linked to a cat’s natural survival instincts.

Food Storage

In the wild, concealing food can help a feline hide it from other predators, ensuring that they have something to return to later.

Predatory Behavior

Cats are natural hunters. They have an innate drive to catch, kill, and sometimes store their prey.

Domestic vs Wild Cats

Feeding Habits

The need to cover food is more aligned with the natural habits of wild cats than domesticated ones.

Wild Cats

Wild cats usually cover their food to protect it from being taken by other predators.

Domestic Cats

On the other hand, domestic cats usually have a steady supply of food, so the need to cover it is not as pronounced.

Health and Hygiene Concerns

Food Spoilage

One concern of this behavior could be the spoilage of food.

Bacterial Growth

Covering food with potentially dirty paws may lead to bacterial growth, posing a risk to the cat’s health.

Uncommon Reasons

Picky Eating

Some cats are simply finicky eaters who might be displaying dissatisfaction with the food.

Behavioral Disorders

In some cases, excessive food covering may signal a behavioral issue that needs professional attention.

Human Interpretations

Pet Parent Concerns

The act of covering food may also raise questions for cat owners.

Should You be Worried?

Generally, there’s no need to be alarmed unless the behavior becomes obsessive.

How to Respond

Acknowledging your cat’s natural instincts is key to understanding this behavior.

Training and Management

Encouraging Behavior

If you wish to encourage this natural behavior, providing more opportunities for your cat to “hunt” could be beneficial.

Discouraging Behavior

If the habit becomes a concern, especially for reasons related to hygiene, there are ways to discourage it.


Cats cover their food for a variety of reasons, primarily rooted in natural survival instincts. While the behavior might seem strange, it’s just another fascinating facet of feline nature that we’re privileged to observe.


  1. Is it normal for cats to cover their food?
    • Yes, it’s a natural behavior for many cats.
  2. Should I be concerned if my cat covers its food?
    • Generally, no, unless the behavior becomes obsessive or leads to health concerns.
  3. Can I train my cat to stop covering its food?
    • Yes, it’s possible through consistent training and behavior management.
  4. What should I do if my cat covers its food with dirty paws?
    • You might want to look into hygiene solutions like paw wipes or foot baths.
  5. Do wild cats also cover their food?
    • Yes, this behavior is often more pronounced in wild cats compared to domestic ones.

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