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Why Do Cats Paw at The Floor? 4 Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat's paw on floor

Why Do Cats Paw at The Floor? 4 Reasons & What to Do

Cats are odd creatures. They have many quirks, both individual and shared, that confuse cat owners. For instance, why do cats paw at the floor? Is it just instinct? Is there something wrong with the cat? If these are questions you’re asking, keep reading. In the article below, we’ll explain why your cat is pawing at the floor.

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Why Do Cats Paw at the Floor?

There are a couple of reasons your cat may paw at the floor; thankfully, none can harm them. Cats paw at the floor for the same reason they have most of their quirks; it’s related to their instincts. Instinct is not learned behavior and is usually for survival purposes. So why do these cats have the instinct to paw at your floor?

Tonkinese cat on a beige
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

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The 4 Reasons Why Cats Paw at the Floor

1. They’re Protecting Their Food

Your cat may be pawing at the floor to protect their food. Cats in the wild hide their food and return later to feast on it. If your cat paws at their food, they may be attempting to bury it so they can come back later; they may even drag something over the food bowl to cover it. They can perform the same behavior with their toys to protect them.

Your cat may not even know why they’re doing it, but protection isn’t the only reason your cat might instinctually try to bury their food.

Image Credit: IMG-Stock-Studio, Shutterstock

2. They’re Protecting Themselves

Your cat may bury their food not to make sure nothing comes for it but to ensure nothing comes for them. In the wild, cats bury their food to protect themselves from predators; if food and waste are buried, the predators can’t smell them. If a predator can’t smell what their prey left behind, it can’t track them.

Female cats do this most often to ensure their kittens remain safe since they’re such easy targets, while a male cat is far less likely to do so. Male cats more commonly spray their territory as a warning to other predators.

3. Your Cat Is Kneading

Kneading is when cats push their paws up and down on a surface, like when a baker kneads dough. They don’t only do this on floors; they also knead blankets, other cats, and people. This isn’t a problem; it’s a sign of happiness.

Cats kneading is a sign of pleasure; they knead in anticipation of something good. They knead the floor in front of food in anticipation of a good meal and knead blankets and people in anticipation of lying on them.

Cat streching while scratching the floor
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

4. They’re Searching for Water

Our cats are descended from desert-dwelling felines. To find water, these big cats sometimes dig in the sand to search. Your cat may do the same even though there is a bowl of water in front of them. This is just something your cat instinctively does, and they probably aren’t sure why.

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How to Stop Your Cat From Kneading and Pawing at the Floor

Your cat’s kneading and pawing at the floor causes no harm to them or you, but it can be annoying, and if they are doing this to your carpet or furniture, it can cause some problems. If it results in a torn-up rug, there are some things you can do to fix this.

An excellent first step is to place your cat’s food on a hard surface like a kitchen floor. Your cat can’t rip up the kitchen floor. You can also stay with your cat as they eat and pick up the food when they’re done. The most important thing to remember is not to punish your cat; use positive reinforcement.

When your cat messes up, don’t get angry at them; instead, simply stop them. When they do something right, reward them with a treat or petting.

grey cat licking lips after eating cat food from bowl inside on floor
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

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If you notice your cat is pawing at the ground, there’s no reason to be concerned. There are a few reasons your cat might paw at the floor, but they are harmless. The reasons range from protecting food to searching for water.

While your cat pawing at the ground causes no harm to them and usually won’t cause you any harm, it can be annoying, but it can be stopped. So, if your cat paws at the ground, there’s no reason for you to worry about them; your furry friend will be okay.

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Featured Image Credit: Marie Charouzova, Shutterstock

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