Why Do Cats Pull Food Out Of The Bowl? Not Because They’re Sloppy!

Cats pull food out of the bowl for a reason, and it’s not because we’re sloppy! If your cat eats off the floor, he might be eating the way instinct tells him to. And there are other reasons why some cats eat off the floor, too. 

Why do cats pull food out of the bowl? Sometimes it's because they don't have whisker friendly bowls like this one.

This cat is enjoying his food from a whisker friendly bowl.

Why do cats pull food out of the bowl and eat it off the floor, Thomasina? My cat makes such a mess!
— Frustrated

Hi, Frustrated!
Yikes!! I’m sorry about the mess. Although I don’t do it, I can think of a few reasons why cats pull food out of the bowl.


Why Some Cats Pull Food Out Of The Bowl: It’s All About Instinct

When you think about it from the cats’ point of view, pulling food out of the bowl makes perfect sense. Outside, Mother Nature doesn’t put the mouse we just caught in a bowl. We eat it off the ground. So when cats pull food out of the bowl, we’re just doing what comes naturally. But instead of the ground, we’re eating off the floor.

Also, instinct tells us to take our food someplace safe to eat. And some of us like to eat in private, with no other cats around. Eating out of little bowls all lined up in a neat row isn’t exactly private and may not feel safe if the cats don’t especially like each other. My safe, private dining room is a little table in a big closet. The door is always open, and I love it in there!



Another reason why cats eat off the floor is dental disease. When our mouths hurt, we might drop our food on the floor. If your cat’s doing that, look for these other signs of dental disease: bad breath, discolored teeth, red or inflamed gums, loss of appetite and pawing at the mouth. Dental disease can be really serious and can lead to kidney failure. So if your cat’s showing any of these signs have the vet check him out. 

Whisker fatigue can also cause cats to pull their food out of the bowl to eat. 

Setting The Purrfect Dining Table For Your Cat

I put some thought into this and came up with these ways to encourage your cat to use his bowl instead of eating off the floor.

    • Take a close look at your cat’s bowls. They should be shallow enough that he doesn’t have to bury his head in the bowl to get to his food and wide enough that his whiskers don’t touch the sides. Whisker friendly bowls are really important. Our whiskers tingle when they touch the sides of our bowls, and that’s uncomfortable and very annoying. 
    • If you have more than one cat, put their bowls several inches apart. Like humans, we like some elbow room when we eat. 



  • There’s no rule that says cats have to eat in the kitchen. Let your cat eat where he wants to eat, even if it’s your dining room, the powder room or up high on a piece of furniture or a corner of the kitchen counter. That’s especially important if you have more than one cat. Everyone should be able to eat in peace. 
  • If all else fails, let your cat eat off the floor if he wants to. Give him a washable food-grade silicone placemat with raised edges. The raised edges will contain the crumbs.   

Speaking of bowls, I hear ours coming out of the dishwasher, so I have to get on my way. Hope this helps and tell your cat I said hello!

 

 

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