Why Kittens Paw the Floor After Eating

Young kitten eating from blue bowl
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After your kitten eats or drinks, does he paw the floor as if he is digging or burying something? Don't worry—nothing is wrong. Your little kitty is demonstrating an instinct shared even by the big cats, and it is a very positive sign that he is making your home "his." 

What This Behavior Means

The pawing and digging your kitten is doing is an amazing exhibit of instinctive behavior (in that he probably didn't learn it from mom-cat). In the wild, feral cats often bury their food remains (as well as their feces) as a protective measure so their enemies can't track them. If they are females still nursing their kittens, they will do so to help prevent other cats from finding their litter.

Similarly, they also spray their territory with urine as a warning to other predators to stay away. (Be sure to have your cat neutered at an appropriate age so he doesn't follow through with urine marking.)

Where This Behavior Comes From

Cats all over the world demonstrate this behavior. It is similar to "food caching," which is practiced by the big cats. The leopard is best known for food caching, where they store food high up in trees to keep away from lions and hyenas. The North American bobcat also exhibits this protective measure, covering the remains of its kill with debris to hide from other animals. 

If you put newspapers under the food plates, you may notice your cat scratching under the plate, shredding the newspapers, and even piling them over the food bowl to hide it completely. This is their version of "food catching."

Why a House Cat Does This

It may not seem to make sense why a house cat without any threat of their food being taken would exhibit this kind of behavior. And, it doesn't make sense, really, except for the fact that the behavior is instinctual and cats do it naturally. But now that you know it is quite normal, you can simply find it amusing.