Why Does My Cat Move His Food Bowl? (Explained)

Why Does My Cat Move His Food Bowl

If your cat moves his food bowl around I’m sure it’s perplexing you. We all want to better understand our cats, so what’s he trying to tell you?

I wish it was as simple as telling you that your cat has found a better place for their food bowl and all you have to do is leave it there.

It’s not quite that simple. Plus, you might not want their food bowl in the middle of your kitchen floor!

The good news is that it’s not that uncommon a behavior and there are some common reasons behind this behavior.

Here is a closer look at some of the most common reasons why cats move their food bowls, see if any apply to your cat:

Is Their Food Bowl Near Their Litter Box?

One of the main reasons why cats stop eating their food – or start trying to move their bowl – is because it’s too near to their litter box.

For a lot of cat parents, it makes sense to create a space in the home where you can put all your cat’s stuff; food and water, bed, and litter box, so it’s not in the way.

But this isn’t how it works. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, either, who wants to eat near to where they use the bathroom?!

If your cat’s litter box is in the same room as their food bowl, don’t be surprised if they try to move their bowl.

Pick somewhere – ideally more than one spot – where you can put their litter box well away from where your cat eats, drinks, and sleeps.

RelatedHere is a closer look at the recommended distance between litter boxes and food bowls!

Are They Playing?

Cats and playing with food – and moreso water – goes hand in hand. If you get the chance to observe your cat moving his bowl, you should be able to tell if he’s just playing.

One of my cats actually loves sliding his bowl along the floor and trying to claw underneath it for some reason.

It’s a curious behavior, and it’s resulted in him tipping his bowl more than once, as well as helping his bowl end up on the other side of the dining room.

It’s similar behavior to what I see him doing when he’s trying to recover one of his toy mice from under the sofa, so I know he’s up to something playful.

They Might Be ‘Hiding’ Their Food

In the wild, cats will often hide or guard their food to stop other cats and any other predators from tucking in and stealing some.

It’s not uncommon to see domestic cats exhibiting the same behaviors as their wild ancestors or what you’d see from feral cats, and this is one such behavior.

Things like sleeping up high or somewhere they feel safe in the home is one example. That is something cats do in the wild, while they’re obviously not under any threat in the home.

You could try finding your cat a new spot for their food that provides better cover so they feel more secure while eating or leaving some.

They Want the Location to Feel More Secure

Along with food security comes a need to feel physically secure against threats. Which, just like food security, is a behavior that is innate to cats but not necessary.

Unless that is, you have other pets in your home and they genuinely do feel threatened while they’re eating?

Cat’s like to be left alone while they’re eating. Most cats will feel comfortable with other cats in the home they’re familiar with, but even then, something can spook them and change that dynamic.

Hopefully, if your cat is feeling like they – or their food – is threatened while eating, moving their bowl to a new location will help resolve this.

How to Stop Your Cat Moving His Food Bowl

I’m sure that by now, you’ve realized that simply placing their food bowl back where you want it isn’t working.

You really need to get to the bottom of why your cat is moving their food or water bowl to find the best solution.

You could do something like securing their bowl down so they can’t move it. But if your cat is not happy, they are likely to just not eat from their bowl and this will lead to some health and psychological issues.

The best course of action is to try new locations for their food bowl. I know most people try more than one location at once as this causes less upset if a cat really hates the spot you’re proposing.

If you’re sure the reason is simply that they’re playing and they are perfectly happy eating at their current location, it’s a case of giving your cat more mental stimulation away from where they eat.

The easiest option is to get a laser pointer or some other form of interactive toy and play with your cat when they have some playful energy.

A firm ‘NO’ when they’re moving their bowl and placing it on a non-slip mat or doing something else to stop it moving is fine, too, if this is the case.

RelatedRead about the risks of laser pointers and anxiety!

In Summary

As with all cat behaviors, there is always a root cause and it’s usually not that difficult to figure out if you observe them and make some calculated changes.

Start placing their bowl in one or more new locations and see if they still try to move it. You can try a different type of bowl too, maybe a shallower bowl will be easier to eat from.

Cats are curious animals and often have some interesting ‘quirks’! But it’s rarely a problem to work around them and find a solution to make the both of you happy!


Image credits – Photo by Abeer Zaki on Unsplash

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