Why Do Cats Play With Their Food? [9 True Reasons]

by Jayley
Why Do Cats Play With Their Food

Have you ever wondered, “Why do cats play with their food?” Well, there are tons of reasons for that and you’re not the only one wondering about that matter. Cats are known for being too curious and too nosey with everything. They will explore your house like no other and find places where they feel comfortable and peaceful. This being said, cats always find time to play with different kinds of things and one of those is their food. You will be able to see them scratching or pushing their food bowl. You will find out the main reasons for their behavior.

Do Cats Actually Play With Their Food

Do Cats Actually Play With Their Food?

It may look like it but cats are tinkering with the food you serve them, not playing with them. Cats, even though domesticated, are still animals and still have the urge to do things that wild animals do. You will see them touching the cat food in their food bowl using their small paws to make sure that what they are going to eat will be safe for them. As the owner, you need to ensure that your cats at home feel comfortable and have the trust in you through having quality time together.

9 Reasons Why Cats Like to Play With Their Food?

As mentioned above, various reasons are discovered by experts and observed by seasoned cat owners why cats like to play with their food. The following are not exclusive because there may be other reasons but they are some of the most accurate ones.

Form of Entertainment

Cats love entertaining themselves by doing things that may not look fun for us, humans. However, they are one-of-a-kind creatures that can make a way for almost anything. They play with their food to entertain them from the boredom they are experiencing. You need to make sure that they have enough toys at home to prevent this from happening.

Coping Mechanism

Just like humans, cats get stressed and feel some kind of emotion from time to time making them develop habits like playing with their food. When you see them like this, make sure to check out whether they are doing well or not. If it’s the latter, try to bring them outside for a breather so they can experience a new environment.

Animal Instincts

As I have said, cats are still animals having the instincts of their cousins in the wild. Whenever an animal is in the jungle, they like to pester their prey by playing with them even if the latter is lifeless already. Your furry friend at home also has this urge that’s why you can see them rolling the food you give them.

It’s Relaxing

Aside from playing with their food for fun and games, they also do this when they want to feel relaxed and sane. Cats are somewhat imprisoned inside the four corners of your house or apartment all the time. They want to relax their nerves by doing small things like pawing their food from time to time.

They Want New Toys

If you notice that your cats don’t like playing with their chew toys, and redirecting their energy into playing with their food, they might want to have new sets of toys. Even though they are animals, domesticated animals to be exact, they get bored with old things too.

Read also: The Best Cat Toy That Moves On Its Own For An Interactive Play Time


Your furry friend at home is a curious fella. You will see them nosing around the house and it looks like they are human babies trying to figure things out on their own. This includes knowing what food you serve them. They would like to know what kind of food they will eat for the day.

They Ensure the Food’s Safety

Cats are predators and they are prey at the same time. This being said, even though they are hunting for food, they can also get hunted by bigger animals. Your cats at home also have this kind of attitude so you need to make sure that they feel secure at home.

Getting Your Attention

Even if it does not look like it, felines love being the ones in the spotlight. They may be doing all this playing with their food act to ensure that they get you attention and affection. You can notice this especially when they are bringing their treats or meals in front of you and playing with the same.

Read also: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

Playing Stimulates Their Senses

A lot of cat owners, especially the new ones, don’t know that cats need to stimulate their brains to be able to function well and not just laze around the house. Playing with their food enables them to activate the necessary senses to survive.

How to Stop Cats From Playing With Their Food?

What should you do when your cat does not stop playing with their food? The answer to this question will depend on whether or not they spill their food on the floor making you clean every single time.

Purchase Running Mice Toys

Interactive toys like automatic mice toys will truly help your cat satisfy their craving for some wild cat action. This will ensure that they already drained their energy in running around before they get to eat the food you will give them. You can also buy automatic laser toys to keep them busy and engaged before mealtime.

Only Put Enough Food

Cats only play with food whenever there are leftovers. When they already feel full, they will not anymore and try to push down every food into their mouths. This being said, what they will do is to play with their food and probably spill them all over the kitchen floor.

Apply Eating Window Hours

Treat them like humans, therefore, applying eating window hours. Do not leave the food in their cat food bowls all day long because this will attract them into playing with them. Hide their food bowl when it’s not time to eat.

Read also: 5 Time Release Cat Food Dispensers for Portion Feeding

Discipline Their Eating Habits

Speaking of eating habits, you need to ensure that your cat at home has discipline when it comes to ingesting food. Teach them how to eat and when to eat. When you do this, they will be so much grateful and not wasteful the next time they eat their treats and meals.

Avail of Spill-proof Cat Bowls

To avoid spillage of the food you put in your furry friend’s food bowl, try availing of spill-proof ones so you will not have a hard time cleaning. There are countless varieties online and even in pet shops to choose from. Choose the size that is compatible with your cat at home.

Read also: Best Spill-Proof Cat Water Bowls

Try Puzzle Bowls

When your cat loves playing with their food, this is the best food bowl that you can purchase. Puzzle bowls are kinds of food bins for animals wherein instead of your pets eating directly, they still need to solve puzzles or make their way through the puzzle bowl just to eat.

Cat Behavior Therapy

This may be the last resort but bringing your cat to a cat behavior expert is a great thing to do as well. You will be able to learn a lot from the experts working in this field to ensure that your cat is not having any psychological problems.

Spend Quality Time With Your Cat

Lastly, your cat might be playing with their food because of wanting to play with you so as the owner, you need to spend quality time with your cat. Play catch or just cuddle with them when you have time.


Cats are lovable pets who need love and attention. There are a lot of reasons (as stated above) why do cats play with their food so you need to make sure that you resolve it head-on. Invest some time and money in your furry friend because just like us, they also have their special reasons as well.

You Might Also Like