Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Eating — The Weird Behavior Explained

Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Eating

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Most owners have witnessed their feline friends kneading and scratching around their food, leaving us wondering, Why does my cat scratch the floor before eating? This instinctive behavior serves mainly as a communication tool, as cats leave their scent and visual marks and express their contentment or dislike of the food. Also, they cover their tracks or make themselves comfortable. 


Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Eating 


Scratching the floor before eating may be normal behavior for cats.

Some cats do it to mark their territory, while others might scratch as part of their grooming ritual.

They may also display this behavior to knead the food surface and make sure that it is soft enough to eat.

It could also be an automatic habit left over from their wildcat ancestors—scratching to dig up prey or uncover edible plant matter.

Whatever the reason, scratching can be a harmless and natural expression of your cat’s instincts.

However, you should consider talking to your veterinarian about possible causes and solutions if it becomes excessive or disruptive.

For example, if your cat is scratching excessively and eating very little, their behavior may be due to an underlying medical issue like a digestive problem.

It’s always best to check with a professional to be sure there isn’t something more serious going on.

Whatever the reason for this behavior, it can usually be managed without disrupting your cat’s natural habits.

Providing scratching posts or other surfaces for them to scratch can help redirect the behavior and stop your cat from damaging furniture or flooring.

You may also be able to train your cat to only scratch certain surfaces at specific times, such as after a meal.

Ultimately, it’s essential to understand that scratching is an instinctual behavior in cats, and there’s no need to be alarmed by it.

With patience and understanding, you can help manage your cat’s scratching habits while preserving the animal’s natural behaviors.


Reasons for this behavior in detail



Kneading is a common trait most owners find cute and quite charming. It is also called “making biscuits” because a cat looks like it’s kneading dough. When kneading, cats push their paws in and out, alternating between left and right.

Cat owners know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s warm when your cat is “giving you a massage.” 

Moreover, a kneading cat is a happy, relaxed cat. This behavior is often accompanied by purring and usually means your feline expresses satisfaction or anticipation of something delightful.

Some cats knead with all four paws, while others use just the two front ones. Some retract their claws entirely, but others also scratch away the surface below.

That is when kneading becomes scratching. So next time you wonder, Why is my cat scratching the floor before eating? Consider that she might just be pleased.




Scratching is an entirely normal behavior that cats often display. They love to scratch for different reasons. Although it’s an instinct, it’s much less cute than kneading and often unacceptable. 

Kittens and mature cats alike scratch while playing, stretching, and feeding. The need to remove dead layers of the claws, sharpen them, and keep them in generally good shape will have your cat scratch away at just about anything. 

Cats scratch to mark their territory by leaving both visual and scent marks. In addition, the scent glands in the soft pads of their paws leave unique marks they use as communication tools with other felines and reminders for themselves. 


Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Eating — Theories


Although kneading and scratching around the food bowl is a typical cat behavior, there are numerous theories about the reason behind it. Domesticated felines will scratch tiles and linoleum and knead on carpets and rugs because it’s in their nature. 


Covering Their Tracks


Much like wild cats, domesticated felines instinctively bury their food. Cats in the wild hunt for food and eat as much of a carcass as they can at once. As a protective measure against predators, they bury the leftovers, covering them with leaves and dirt. By doing so, they mask the scent of rotten meat and prevent enemies from tracking them down. 

Of course, domestic cats have little competition for food and practically no predators. What’s more, our pets are mostly very well-fed. Most house cats live a life of abundance and rarely, if ever, feel hunger. Nevertheless, they still share instincts with their wild cousins. 

Take my kitten, for example — I fill her bowl, and she sniffs around it and instantly kneads. The kneading turns to scratch when I think she’s about to start eating. After a minute of scratching, she turns around and leaves without touching her food. 

So after doing a little bit of research to answer the question of why my cat scratches the floor before eating, I realized that she might not be that hungry. So, because she doesn’t plan on eating the food, she tries to bury it by scratching and keeping scavengers away. 


Leaving Scent Marks


Cats are territorial animals, and they make sure everyone knows it. By pawing, they leave their unique scent on a surface, marking it as their turf.

So when a cat is kneading and scratching the area around their food, it’s making it clear the bowl belongs to it. Scratching leaves visual markers that make this point even more robust. 

Considering this, there’s a controversial theory that cats try to bury their food only to return to it and eat it later. It is controversial because cats are not scavenging animals. Even feral cats eat only as much as they can in one go and don’t feast on leftovers. 

Cats have a powerful sense of smell that quickly detects spoiled food. Together with their survival instinct, the importance of smell prevents them from eating food that’s not fresh and getting sick. 


Making A Statement


Every owner knows how picky a cat can be. Often, they turn their noses up at the sight of the food we’ve prepared for them. It can happen with a new kibble and wet food brand, while it rarely happens with something our cats really like. 

If a cat dislikes the menu, it’ll scratch and paw to bury the food and get rid of it. It is doing the same thing in its litter box, comparing the food with feces. It’s the cat’s way of tidying up the mess and keeping the surroundings clean.

In such cases, we can try a different food brand or offer the picky feline something we know they enjoy. 


Expressing Contentment 


On the other hand, happy and excited cats often knead and scratch too. Every owner knows the feeling and the occasional pain of kneading on. That’s how felines express contentment and love. 

Likewise, they can spend much time scratching the floor anticipating a delicious meal. Kneading and rubbing, if accompanied by purring or even drooling, are signs of pure bliss for the cat is in. Curled up in front of the food bowl, the cat is expressing its love and appreciation for the tasty treat it’s about to indulge in. 


Making Themselves Comfortable 


This theory takes into consideration the days when the wild ancestors of our domesticated felines used to pat down thick foliage in search of shelter. They’d scratch and knead to clear space, soften the grass, and make a comfortable area for snoozing, eating, or giving birth. 

Thus, our cats may tenderize the floor for additional comfort, so they can eat peacefully and fully enjoy the meal. 


Final Thoughts


We love cats, and we love all the silly things they do. All cats will knead and scratch as it’s a part of their nature. But, whether our felines are covering their scent, marking their territory, or expressing their feelings, our attitude toward it is what matters. 


Every owner has been faced with the question of why my cat scratches the floor before eating at some point. Whatever the answer, we should remember that instinctive behavior does little harm but makes our feline friends somewhat unique. 


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