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My Cat Takes Food Out of Their Bowl to Eat: 5 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

persian cat eating dry food

My Cat Takes Food Out of Their Bowl to Eat: 5 Vet-Reviewed Reasons


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve ever had a cat for a pet, you may have seen them pawing the food out of their bowl, putting it on the floor, and then eating it. Sometimes a cat will even take the food and run off with it to eat it in a corner somewhere.

This is concerning for some pet parents, and they think something is wrong with their cat, the food, or the bowl.

Why do some cats take their food away from their bowl to eat? Is there something wrong? We’ll answer these questions, give you a list of possible reasons, and more in the list below.

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Top 5 Reasons Your Cat Takes Food Out of Their Bowl to Eat

1. It’s a Natural Instinct

cat lying near bowl with food_Pixel-shot_shutterstock
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

It’s important to remember that our domestic cats descend from African wildcats. Their instinct is to hunt alone and eat alone. Your cat could be taking the food from the bowl to eat alone because they are naturally inclined to this behavior.

2. Prey Protection

A cat’s instinct to protect their food is called prey protection. While the cat doesn’t have to worry about hawks and huge cats stealing their food, if you have other pets, such as dogs or cats, your cat may think they need to protect their food from their roommates. This is analogous to jaguars and ocelots which may tend to hide to eat their food so they can protect it from other predators.

3. Cats Do Not Like to Eat Near Water

cat eating boiled eggs
Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

In some cases, your cat’s food bowl may be too close to the water bowl. In the wild, cats don’t eat their food beside bodies of water. Eating next to a body of water means other animals could come along, and the cat doesn’t know if the water is contaminated. In the wild, they pull their prey away from the water. This could be why your cat does the same with their food. If you feel this is the case with your cat, move their food bowl away from the water bowl and see if that helps.

4. The Bowl Is Too Deep and Narrow

If a bowl is too deep and narrow, it might hurt your cat’s whiskers to eat out of it, prompting them to pull the food from the bowl to eat instead. The bowl pushes the cat’s whiskers back, which can be painful. Switch to a shallow bowl instead for the best results.

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5. The Cat Is Seeking Protection

grey cat eating food
Image By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

If your cat brings the food from their bowl over to you to eat, then it could be that they’re seeking protection. The cat sees you as the head of their “pride”, so it stands to reason that you’ll be there to protect your pet when they’re eating.


Is Food Carrying Something to Worry About?

While food carrying isn’t an issue and is nothing to worry about, it might be time to make different arrangements if you have multiple cats that fight over their food.

You can try putting the cat’s food in different locations, or you can feed meals at specific times instead of just putting the food out and letting them eat when they feel like it.

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Taking the food out of the bowl isn’t horrible, and there’s nothing wrong with your cat. It’s natural for cats in the wild to move their prey, and our domesticated babies still have some of those instincts. If you have multiple cats, you can separate the food bowls to reduce the competitive urge to raid another cat’s food supply.

Featured Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

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