The domestic cat shows us her wild side in her eating habits. When it comes to food the wild cat is there for all to see.
There are two behavioural traits that my cat Gabriel consistently performs (a) he tries to bury the food bowl if the food is not too his liking perhaps because he is full up and (b) he drags chunks of food from the bowl to about 6 inches from it and eats it there.
I should think people know the reason why domestic cats try and bury their food. Wild cats hides partially eaten food. The cougar comes to my mind. They cover carcasses with whatever is available such as leaves and return later to finish.
“Prey killed in the open is almost always dragged into some bush or dense thicket before the puma begins eating…Pumas that intend to return to a carcass sometimes cover the remains with leaves, grass, sand, snow or whatever is available….Many hunters and woodsmen have written of spending the night out in the forest wrapped in a blanket, only to awaken the next morning covered with a pile of leaves.” (Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists).
This excellent book does not refer to the food burying habits of the direct wild ancestor of the domestic cat: the North African wildcat but I am sure it happens. The puma is the outstanding proponent of this behaviour.
Dragging Food off the Bowl
Wild cats will drag their prey to a safe place where it can eaten without disturbance. Leopards take their prey into trees as we know.
I can refer to the magnificent puma again. Although relatively slightly built compared to the other large wild cats the puma is very strong and capable. Here is an example told by M.E. Musgrave of a puma in Arizona:
“A horse weighing eight or nine hundred pounds which a mountain lion has dragged twenty-five or thirty feet, as proven by tracks in the snow”
The reason for both these forms of cat behaviour is to preserve food to finish eating later and avoid the attention of other predators – both to enhance survival. This is hard-wired into all cats including the domestic cat. I don’t expect all domestic cats do this because it is unlearned through domestication. In fact, it may be unusual to exhibit both behaviors.
Perhaps Gabriel’s semi-feral background makes him more likely to do it.
Note: you can see I am free-feeding. I supply more than he needs. He does not overeat. If he did, I would ration. One of the wet foods I put down he has rejected so that bowl is dead. The dry food is for grazing at night. He sometimes prefers it to wet but rarely.