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Why Do Cats Put Toys in Their Food Bowl? Behavior Explained

cat eating from feeding bowl
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock
Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

He has done this since he was just a little kitten. He even does it if he has to jump on the counter with the toy in his mouth. (We had a dog for a while, and she would eat his food if it wasn’t on the counter.)

Ocala, FL

Our Vet Responds

My answer is going to involve speculation. I don’t know for sure why your cat is engaging in this behavior, and I certainly can’t ask him. But I have a hunch.

Your cat’s food bowl is undoubtedly a very special place for him. If he enjoys eating as much as I do, then he associates the food bowl with good feelings.

What’s more, the food bowl is a place that is uniquely his. I suspect that in his mind it is the heart of his territory.

So when he moves his favorite toys to the heart of his territory, he is helping to keep his most prized possessions in a spot where it is easy to account for them.

I realize that this explanation involves speculation and a bit of anthropomorphism. Another possible explanation is that he likes to carry his toys around the house, and he drops them in his food bowl because he can’t hold a toy and eat at the same time. But I like the first explanation better.

Feature Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

About the Author

Dr. Eric Barchas
Dr. Eric Barchas

Dr. Eric Barchas is a professional traveler who spends his spare time working as a full-time veterinarian; contributing to Dogster and Catster; walking, cooking, camping, and exploring the outdoors; skiing (when conditions permit); and reading Booker-shortlisted novels. In between trips Dr. Barchas lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Denise, and his canine pal, Buster. His main veterinary interests are emergency and critical care, wellness, pain management and promotion of the human-animal bond. Dr. Barchas has to Dogster and Catster since May 2005. 

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