Lilah Rosebud

Why does my cat play with her food?

Lilah likes to "throw" her dry food across the kitchen floor. Most of the time she "catches" it and eats it, but there's always food everywhere. She also likes to scoop out her wet food and eat it off the floor. Before I switched to a plastic food mat, she liked to drag her mat as far as the edge of the kitchen floor (where the living room carpet meets).

It doesn't bother me much now, but I'm worried about when the weather gets warmer. We've always had a problem with ants during the summertime, and an infestation is the LAST thing I want.

She is 7 months old, and I didn't get her until last November. She is very small (just over 5 lbs), but healthy other than that. I know that she was with her mom and littermates without much human interaction until 16 weeks, and she came to me with two different types of worms and covered in flea dirt.

Is this attention seeking behavior, or something else? Can I train her to stop doing this? If not, any suggestions?

Asked by Lilah Rosebud on Feb 13th 2012 Tagged food, attentionseeking, messy in Other Behavior & Training
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Izadore (Izzie)

Cats have weird, weird habits and if we could figure all of them out, we'd be millionaires! Sometimes a best offense is a good defense. One of my friends had the same problem as you do and she put her cat's dishes in a large cardboard box she'd cut down so the cat could see out. Luckily, the cat didn't demand "fine dining" and was content to eat in the box. When it became dirty or wet, she'd just get another. I have a notoriously messy Springer Spaniel dog. I have to mop the floor almost every day after she's eaten. I just sigh and do it. Try feeding her smaller portions so she'll eat instead of play. And make sure that she has plenty of interactive playtimes with things that are really toys.

Izadore (Izzie) answered on 2/13/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


It sounds to me like a predator instinct, combined with her early training in kittenhood. If she lived outdoors with her mother for the first four months of her life, most of her food probably had to be hunted and caught. Now when she's given a bowl of inanimate food, she still feels the need to hunt and catch it. The behavior of former feral kittens is fascinating to me, as I have two myself!

I don't think it's attention-seeking behavior, from what you've described, but deeply-rooted instinct and training. Those behaviors can be very difficult to change, and may require the human to adapt to the cat, as with Izzie's suggestion about the box. However, Lilah is still a kitten, and has been with you for less time than she was with her mother. As she gets older, perhaps she'll figure out that food doesn't need to move in order to be edible. Until then, just enjoy this adorable, however messy, little quirk!

Member 1046384 answered on 2/13/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Girls. Just wanna have fun. Ferrell cat moms begin teaching. Her kittens by first chewing their food. Then bringing them half open food. But they can't teach them how to survive unless she can teach them how to catch and kill prey. First mom makes mice or whatever to make easy pickings for her Kitty's. At first the babies think this is play time. But mom soon puts down the tough love and stops feeding them. Soon the play time becomes a more important time. This is the way all felines teach their young. Lions. Tigers. Bobcats. Housecats are no different. They just put up with us because were bigger. And we go to petsmart. Sounds like you rescued Kitty during his teenage days. He's only doing what mom taught him so far. But like all teenagers, once he finds there is an easier way,and its more fun to mess with the ones that love them the most(us)they stop playing with their food and start learning how to sucker you into buying premium

Member 1090019 answered on 2/14/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I know this isn't any help, because I had a cat for 15 years that rarely ate his food out of his bowl. He would pick it up with his mouth, place it on the floor and then choose which pieces he would and wouldn't eat. It was very strange, and he never stopped! We just lived with it and cleaned it up as often as we could when it was the time for ants. I just wanted to say I understand, ahah. Hopefully your cat may stop!

Member 1093650 answered on 2/20/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer