Why Does My Cat Scratch the Floor After Eating? The Meaning Behind Strange Cat Behavior

Why Does My Cat Scratch the Floor After Eating

To answer the question of “Why does my cat scratch the floor after eating,” we have to take into account that domesticated cats share a lot of their instincts with their ancestors. As such, it’s not uncommon for them to indulge in those instincts at home, and scratching the floor after eating is one of them.


If your cat is pawing the floor around its bowl after it has finished its meal, it’s actually trying to bury the leftovers. Cats do this in the wild to cover their tracks and protect themselves from predators. So, even though there are hardly any predators at home, your domesticated cat is simply following its feline instincts.


Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor After Eating? 


I could definitely write a whole book, or even better, an entire TV show that details all the quirky ways my cat behaves. From eating cardboard to excessive grooming, felines are no strangers to weird behavioral patterns that may or may not be a sign of a serious problem. But why does my cat scratch the floor after eating? As it turns out, that question requires a bit of digging.


At first glance, it seems that the easiest answer is — the cat doesn’t like its food. In fact, it detests it so much that it’s doing everything in its power to show its dissatisfaction. 


Needless to say, this notion is inaccurate and is probably rooted in the fact that cats somehow always seem unhappy with their humans. So, why does my cat scratch the floor after eating? Well, it cannot help it — it is in its nature!


Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor After Eating?


Even though my little furry friend is a full-fledged domesticated cat, it cannot run away from its natural instincts. There are some parts of its character that will always resemble the big cats that still live in the wild. And even though it isn’t as strong as a tiger or a lion, it will display similar behavioral patterns.


The reason a cat scratches the floor after eating boils down to what most animals have to do in the wild: stay as far away from the predators as possible. Naturally, cats have to catch their own prey in the wilderness and feast on it while it’s still fresh. However, even though they usually hunt in packs, there are plenty of leftovers to go around most of the time. When that happens, they need to think fast and conceal their presence, i.e., cover their tracks.


Predators, or those animals that may decide to hunt cats, find it quite easy to follow the trail of carcasses to the cats’ whereabouts. Thus, felines have to either dig up a ditch where they can bury the leftovers or cover them with debris. A good example of this behavior is the North American bobcat, which kills an animal, eats until it’s full, and then uses debris to hide the remains.


But They Aren’t Hiding the Food, Are They?


Obviously, domesticated cats aren’t able to hide their food by simply scratching the floor around their bowls. Food caching (storage of food) isn’t possible in that case since they cannot dig all the way to the ground, right? But if there is some newspaper underneath the bowl or a towel, the cat may decide to cover its food instead.


Covering the leftovers is also quite common in the wild, but there isn’t a deeper meaning behind it. In general, it just means that the cat is going the extra mile to hide its food from other predators. It wants to make sure its whereabouts remain a mystery.


Is My Cat Saving Some Food for Later?


Since this behavior is quite common among domesticated cats, many feline owners think that it goes deeper than the bare instinct. After all, we all know that some Garfield’s out there do love their food and will keep eating until they aren’t able to get up from the sofa.


However, even if your cat has a big appetite, it definitely isn’t scratching the floor after eating or covering its leftovers with paper or towels to save some food for later. Cats aren’t scavengers, and they are rather careful when it comes to not-so-fresh food. It is in their nature to avoid things that may get them sick, which rotten meat can definitely contribute to. Therefore, they will never bury or cover leftovers to eat them later; they are only doing it to hide from other predators.


Pawing or Kneading? There’s a Huge Difference!


While trying to find an answer to Why does my cat scratch the floor after eating?, I realized that this isn’t the only type of “scratching” I’ve seen my cat exhibit. Sometimes, she’ll push in and out with its front paws, similar to how you’d knead dough or give someone a back rub.


Fortunately, this isn’t anything to be alarmed about. In fact, in contrast to regular scratching, which is definitely an instinct, a cat will knead the floor out of pure pleasure. It often happens when there’s some anticipation in the air, e.g., when the cat is excited about something (most likely food). Also, it’s more common if the ground beneath its paws is soft (on the carpet, sofa, etc.).


Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor After Eating? Should I Do Something About It?


Though it may seem that your hard flooring is bound to suffer a bit, the scratching isn’t harmful at all. In the end, it’s pure instinct, and it helps the cat stay in touch with its wilderness roots, in case it ever has to fend for itself out there.


However, if it’s particularly annoying to you and the cat has destroyed some of your floor or carpet, there are a couple of ways you could discourage the behavior. Keep in mind, though, that you should never yell or punish the cat for it. That may have a counter effect and destroy your relationship with your cat, not to mention lead to other problematic behavior.


If you don’t want your cat to paw the floor or cover the food bowl with stray towels or paper:


Remove the Bowl Once the Cat Is Done Eating


We’ve determined that your feline will want to bury or cover the leftovers. Therefore, the easiest thing you can do is remove the temptation from the equation. If the food isn’t there, there won’t be anything to hide. Besides, if it’s wet food, you’re much better off throwing it away — it will start to smell soon.


Determine How Much Food Your Cat Actually Needs


Since cats will only hide their leftovers, you may be pouring a lot more than your feline needs. Determine the right amount to stop the behavior. Alternatively, stop leaving dry food out for free grazing. If there’s some food out, and the cat cannot finish it all, there will always be leftovers to bury!


Distract the Cat


Whenever you see your cat scratching the floor after eating, try to distract it with toys or even a laser. That should keep its mind off the leftovers and its natural instinct. And while you’re playing, you’ll get a chance to get rid of the food fast, without your feline ever noticing a thing!


Keep the Food Bowl on a Hard-to-Damage Surface


If you place the bowl on concrete, it’s unlikely the cat will be able to destroy it. Therefore, if you can feed your cat outside, do it. At least that way, your floors will remain scratch-free, and your cat will be able to indulge in its instinct!


Final Thoughts


As you can see, the answer to Why does my cat scratch the floor after eating? is pretty simple and entirely harmless. Felines are rather in tune with their instincts, and it’s likely that this is just one of the many behavioral patterns they’ve inherited from their ancestors. However, if it bothers you and you’d like to stop the pawing, there are some simple solutions you could try. In the end, what matters is that there isn’t anything sinister behind the behavior — it’s only natural!

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Michael Grover

About Me I have been a pet owner for most of my life. I am now retired and spend my days writing about problems relating to cats, dogs, and funeral poems. I am passionate about stopping animal cruelty in any shape or form. My passion is to help people like you identify behavior problems in cats and dogs. That is what I do. Over the years of my life, I have always kept cats and dogs. About four years ago I retired and found I had a lot of time on my hands, so I started to write all about dog and cat problems. It was suggested that I start up a website and publish my words to help people with their pet problems. I am still writing every day and hope you find my articles useful. Regards Mike Grover

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