#AdorableAdoptables Black Beauties & Why Cats Cover Their Food

Today’s shelter volunteer spotlight is on trio of black beauties available at New Rochelle Humane Society and why some cats cover their food.

Gwen is a little cutie and Traci (no relation) are young and oh so adoptable. We all know unspayed cats can get pregnant as early as 16 weeks and Traci unfortunately was one of them. Luckily the young mom was found under a deck with her one-week old kitten. The kitten found a home but Traci is still waiting. Priscilla is the kind of velvety panther black cat lovers adore. Check out and share Traci’s Petfinder profile with more pics. Ditto Gwen’s profile and Priscilla’s profile

#adorableadoptables black cats

Foster Report and Why Cats Cover Their Food

Our gray gal Nou Nou (still listed as Vicky) is doing very well. Shortly after she arrived I noticed an interesting behavior called caching. It’s not unusual for a cat to drop a toy into a food dish. It’s a vestige of the hunting instinct to hide their prey. When domestic cats pay extra attention to their food station pawing, adding or moving items it’s usually territorial. If the cat then doesn’t touch their food, it may signal they don’t like the food, the bowl or the feeding location. If the cat eats the food and then drops a toy or attempts to cover the food it’s linked to the hunting instinct. Then there are cats like Nou Nou who eat, cover and uncover their food in the true meaning of caching as an attempt to hide their food from predators or rivals for their food stash. Big cats in the wild like leopards cache to eat a portion of their large prey and save some for later. At first Nou Nou placed one toy and then another. She artfully arranged the toys as if plating a dish in a restaurant. Yes, she even included a nip nana.

At first I thought she’s be more accepting of a stainless steel bowl similar to what she had in the shelter. She was offered a choice of different types of bowls and plates and I found she ate most heartily from an antique china side plate. Whatever works is fine with me. I may need to add princess to her name.

cat caching food

I was curious what she would do if I gave her some of the fabric I used to make one of her catnip favorite toys. I tossed the cashmere fabric remnant near dinner plate and sure enough the next morning the fabric neatly covered the entire plate.

cats who cache their food

During the day I found she sometimes added some toys on the plate and position others nearby. She would turn back the fabric to eat and then cover the partially eaten meal. As a cat from a hoarding situation with limited enrichment in a shelter cage, I offered her a variety of catnip and other toys and followed her lead. She seemed to blossom from the rich sensory experience and quickly selected her favorites.

cat food cache


The behavior wasn’t rewarded nor discouraged but allowed to naturally evolve. The feeding station is near by desk and I could sneak glances at her pawing all around the plate as a cat in the wild would do making it just so. Indoor cats have so little chance to interact with their food or replicate the caught prey experience other than spilling it on the floor. Once she realized no one was stealing her food and her territory safe, she relaxed and hasn’t covered her food since. I haven’t removed the fabric which she has placed near her water bowl. I will have to wash it eventually and we’ll see what happens when it no longer has “prey” scent on it.

If you have a messy eater know they are in touch with their inner tiger. Don’t yell or reprimand them. It won’t help and is more likely to reinforce the behavior. Clean up any mess without using strong smelling chemicals which can make a cat go off their food. I like to steam clean with is hygienic and odorless.

Do your cats cover their food or toss toys in their food or water bowl?


22 thoughts on “#AdorableAdoptables Black Beauties & Why Cats Cover Their Food”

  1. The three Black Ladies are BEAUTIFUL!!! We purr and pray they find their furever home real soon!
    My crew are mostly eat it and walk away kind of cats except for Peanut who plays with the dry food that stays out for all. She loves to “hunt” the pellets. Once in a great while she will air cover her food. Izzy wants me to feed her off my fingers. I have tried may different types of bowls,plates etc. but she eats very little unless finger fed. I think that one reason for this is it gives us bonding time . Izzy had a ruff start in life and is a bit “needy”. Thanks for sharing the info about Nou Nou! It is so cool to learn about individual behaviours and where they stem from.
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut >^..^<


  2. Princess Nou Nou sounds like a perfect name!

    Pierre is an air digger, and the head peep has often wondered why he will dig as if covering and then immediately eat again. It’s interesting to learn more about this behavior.

  3. That is interesting. Flynn doesn’t cover his food, but he will often scrape the floor next to his food bowl as if he is trying to cover something.

  4. Louie covers food that’s not even his. He also covers pee that’s not his. And poop. He covers everything. Rocky used to dump toys in the water bowl.

  5. That is so interesting. We never knew what it was called, but we’ve definitely noticed this behavior in some of the cats at the shelter. Glad to hear Nou Nou is feeling more confident there! 🙂

  6. It was very interesting to read why Nou Nou behaved like this with her food ; I did it for about one month at the beginning when he arrived home : I tossed my favorite mouse in the plate or in the water bowl. I have been a messy eater for several months. Mum never yelled at me, fortunately ! Purrs, Zorro

  7. I love how Nou Nou “decorated” her dish with toys 🙂 My Goro sometimes bury his dish with air. He also drops toys in water bowl. He is a hunter 🙂

  8. That’s such interesting behavior! Nou Nou is a food artist.
    There was a cat at PAWS who would drop her dry food into her water bowl. She stopped after a dental procedure. I wondered if she was making soup because the crunchy pellets were hard on her teeth.
    After reading this post I wonder if there was something else going on.
    Sometimes we do find toys in food bowls. I always thought it was accidental after play. Thanks for the insight, Layla.

    1. It’s possible but cat’s don’t chew dry food so even toothless cats can eat dry.

  9. it has something, the colors are well arranged, probably you have a cat with a sense for designs :o) but I’m glad she knows that her food is really hers and she has nothing to worry in her new home.

  10. Sammy doesn’t do that but the ferals who visit us for food and shelter do. Sometimes I find kibble in Sam’s water bowl but it’s close by so I think it’s more of an “accident” than an “on purpose” !

    Hope Nou Nou is doing well……………….
    Hugs, Pam

    1. She’s doing well. I saw her sisters today at the shelter and they looked so sad in their cages it broke my heart.

  11. I was really interested to learn about the how’s and whys cats interacted with their food. We have four cats and three feeding stations. We had four but no one used it so we made the favorite one larger. My Mistletoe as also a young mother whose kittens all found homes before she did. Of course, I believe she was waiting for me, I just wish I had known I needed a beautiful, petite black beauty earlier. She and the boys will all paw the ground to cover their food on occasion and Tiger will sometimes drop his poof balls in the water dish. Since we have five water stations and 3 food stations, oh and 4 litter boxes, it can feel like the house if devoted to the comfort of kitties….and I suppose it is to some degree. After all they are part of the family too, so they should be as comfy as the rest of us.
    Great, informative post today. I enjoyed reading about Nou Nou and learning about why my feline four might do what they do.

    1. Having multiple feeding station is great and I’m happy to see you separate the water stations just like in the wild. Good job!

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