Categories: eating

Domestic cat paws around her food bowl. The insight it provides.

A lot has been written about why domestic cats paw around their food bowl. I expect that, by now, people know the reason why but for the sake of clarity I’ll restate it. In my experience, cats do this when they either don’t like the food that they’ve been given or they have finished eating and have left some in their bowl. They are therefore, burying the remaining food. They do it for two possible reasons. Firstly, it is to bury “prey” to protect it from other predators which allows them to return to it the next day to finish their meal. Remember, that wild cats are able to eat rotten flesh and do so frequently. Tigers eat maggot infested flesh without a pause.

The wildcat within. Illustration: PoC.

Secondly, it is said that cats bury their prey to avoid attracting predators which would threaten their survival. This domestic cat behaviour is, therefore, inherited from their North African wildcat ancestor which self-domesticated themselves around 10,000 or more years ago in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Insight

We accept this feline behaviour and see it quite often and think nothing of it. However I’d like to reflect on this useless or redundant behavior. The domestic cat is pawing at a hard surface, usually the kitchen floor which is often tiled. There is no possibility, obviously, of burying their food. But cats ignore this deficiency in the process. They think they are burying their food even though it is plain to see that it is not happening. It is instinctive and carried out without rational thought.

You would have thought that once domestic cats realise that they are failing to bury their food that they would stop and modify their behaviour. You would have thought that over 10,000 years of domestication they would have evolved a different form of behaviour which didn’t waste time or effort. But apparently not.

This tells me that domestic cats are driven to irrational behaviour by their inherited wild cat instincts. It begs the question whether domestic cats can think rationally. I am not being critical of our cat companions but realistic and observant. Domestic cats have very many advanced behavioural characteristics such as emotions and feelings with the power to form close relationships with other species including humans. But as this hardwired instinctive behaviour overrides rationality we should remind ourselves to be cautious about anthropomorphising our beloved cat companions. They are not little, fluffy human members of our family but top predators a cat’s whisker away from their wild ancestor’s behavioural traits.

Will my cat recatch a mouse that I have saved from him and put outside?

Like many cat owners, I expect others to rescue mice from the jaws of their cat. I expect them to ...
Read More

Cat companion bites women singing into camera. Why?

The infographic explains why this cat attacked her human guardian/companion while she was singing into the camera. The video is ...
Read More

Rats can be far more aggressive and courageous than modern domestic cats

The anti-cat brigade find any way to criticise domestic and feral cats. They condemn the cat for not even being ...
Read More

Do domestic cats kill squirrels?

Do domestic cats kill squirrels? Yes, they do but the percentage of house cats who are successful squirrel hunters is ...
Read More

Seagull bit a cat’s tongue and severely damaged it

In an example of how predatory and aggressive seagulls can be, it is thought that an encounter between a domestic ...
Read More

Will a domestic cat kill another domestic cat? Will wild cats kill each other?

Rarely a large wild cat species such as a lion will attack another cat and kill it for various reasons ...
Read More
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

Can cats be allergic to humans?

My belief is that cats cannot be allergic to humans provided they are not wearing perfumes and such products or…

4 mins ago

Is baby food safe for cats?

Baby food is safe for cats for a very limited time or as a treat as directed by your veterinarian.…

4 hours ago

TikTok meme: Do cats want to protect an egg because it is fragile?

There is a current craze on the Internet which you might have noticed in which cat owners on TikTok (a…

6 hours ago

Humans should have domesticated an intelligent herbivore?

It seems incongruous that for thousands of years humans have shared their homes with fearsome predators. I am referring to…

7 hours ago

Why do domestic cats sometimes use their paws to eat and drink?

If and when domestic cats use their paws to eat food or to drink water they do so in a…

18 hours ago

Why do cats need protein?

Cats need animal protein. They have a higher requirement for protein in their diets than dogs and humans. They need…

19 hours ago