Categories: eating

Why do cats eat food from the center of their bowl and leave the food at the edges?

Why do cats eat food from the center of their bowl and leave the food at the edges? Cats don’t always do this but mine have tended to do it so the question is valid. Although it is a fine point question which does not really advance the cause of domestic caretaking an awful lot. There is no fancy answer deeply rooted in feline behavior. It’s about common sense as I see it.

Cat leaves food at the edges of the bowl. Photo in public domain.

Cats can and do eat from the edges

I have watched my cat eating from his bowl. When he is hungry and wants to eat all the food in the bowl he manages to do it. He will eat the food at the edges last but he’ll eat it. It looks a bit ungainly but he cranes over to the edge and uses his tongue to get at the food. It can be done.

It depends on the cat but I think that cats leave food at the edges of the bowl because cats tend to leave food in the bowl and common sense dictates that what is left will be at the edges as it is the hardest to get at. Cats leave food because they are not hungry enough to eat it all.

Muzzle?

Someone said that a cat’s muzzle prevents a cat eating food from the edges. Perhaps there is a bit of truth in this but if a cat’s hungry he’ll eat it all.

Whiskers?

Another person said that a cat’s whiskers prevent them eating food at the edges. I don’t go with this argument. I have heard it quite a lot. A cat’s whiskers are not so sensitive that they prevent a cat eating. Yes, whiskers are very sensitive but a cat will accept them being brushed by the bowl as he eats. I suspect someone will disagree with that but I think you are wrong.

Cat whiskers: 8 interesting facts

Eyesight?

A factor in not eating food at the edges is that cats have relatively poor eyesight at very close range. They rely on smell. They may not see the food at the edge so clearly. However, this is not a very strong argument.

For me it comes down to convenience. If a cat is going to leave food in the bowl it’ll be at the edge because it is harder to get at.

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Michael Broad

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

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