Why Cats Put Toys in Their Food Bowl

Published on February 5th, 2024

Why Cats Put Toys in Their Food Bowl

Have you ever caught your cat dropping its favorite toy into the food or water dish? You’re not alone. Cats might do strange things from time to time, but this type of behavior is actually quite common! Here are 10 possible reasons your cat is turning its bowl into a toy box.

Why Do Cats Put Toys in Their Food Bowl? 10 Possible Reasons

Cats are fascinating creatures that exhibit complex behaviors, many of which are deeply rooted in their instincts and evolutionary history. While the act of putting toys in their food bowl might seem odd to us, it makes perfect sense to our feline companions. Here’s why:

1. Your Cat Sees the Food Bowl as a Safe Place

Cats are creatures of comfort. Their food bowl represents a familiar space that’s associated with survival and safety. By placing their toys in the bowl, they might be trying to keep their ‘belongings’ in a place they deem secure. Think of it like us humans keeping our precious items in a safe.

2. Hiding its Prey

In the wild, cats hide their prey to protect it from other predators. While your kitty isn’t exactly hunting in the savannah, its instincts are still strong. Dropping a toy in the food bowl could be its way of hiding ‘prey’ from potential threats—even if the only threat is the vacuum cleaner!

3. Saving it For Later

Cats are known for their on-and-off relationship with play. One minute, they’re all about chasing that laser, and the next, they’re snoozing in a sunbeam. Dropping a toy in its food bowl could be a sign of ‘saving’ the toy for later play.

4. Gathering Instincts

Just like our ancestors gathered resources, cats have an innate gathering instinct. They like to bring together their belongings (toys, in this case) in a single place. The food bowl, being a central and important location for them, becomes the ideal gathering spot.

5. Cleaning its Prey

Some cats have a habit of ‘drowning’ their toys in their water bowl, which can extend to the food bowl as well. This behavior might stem from an instinct to ‘clean’ their prey or to hide it in water, which is a tactic some wild cats use.

6. Extending the Play Session

Your cat might not be ready to end playtime even though it’s time to eat. By bringing its toy along, your cat is essentially extending the fun and games to mealtime. It’s like having a toy at the dinner table!

7. Proud of its Kill

Domestic cats retain many behaviors of their wild ancestors, including the pride of a successful hunt. By placing its toy in its food bowl, it might be exhibiting pride in its ‘kill’. It’s their way of showing off their hunting prowess—even if it’s just a stuffed mouse!

8. Teaching You Hunting Behavior

Cats, especially mothers, teach their kittens how to hunt. In a household, your cat may see you as a clumsy, giant kitten who needs some hunting lessons. So, dropping a toy in the food bowl could be its way of showing you how it’s done.

9. A Learned Behavior

Sometimes, behaviors in cats are simply learned. If dropping a toy in its bowl once resulted in positive attention from you, it might repeat the behavior to get that same response again.

10. Convenience

Let’s face it, cats are also masters of convenience. If they happen to tire of playing when they’re near their food bowl, their toy might just end up there out of sheer laziness. Why go all the way to the other side of the room to drop a toy when the food bowl is right there?

Understanding these behaviors can deepen your bond with your cat and provide insights into its mysterious world. So, the next time you find a toy in your cat’s food or water bowl, remember it’s just part of being a cat!

Find Veterinary Care You Can Trust

If you’re a new cat owner, or you’re simply looking for a trustworthy vet in the Chicago area, turn to the cat experts at Portage Park Animal Hospital.

Our vets take the time to listen to your concerns and provide you with the knowledge you need to keep your cat happy and healthy. We offer everything from vet exams to wellness programs and specialty care.

Call (773) 725-0260 to schedule an appointment.

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