You know the routine, your cat walks up to you and makes you follow her/him to the food bowl only to eat food in the middle and leave the sides as if it is empty.
Wait, it doesn’t end there, some minutes later. S/he comes back and begs for more cat food but there’s still some on the sides of the bowl and you’re left wondering why the cat only eats food in the middle of the bowl.
Because of their whiskers, some cats will only eat the food in the middle of the bowl. They do this to avoid getting messy as they are naturally very clean animals and will do anything to avoid getting dirty.
Why do some cats only eat the food in the middle of the bowl?
I’ve also experienced this a lot with my Chacha. She never finishes her food and will always leave some food on the side of the food bowl.
For some time, I was concerned and I asked around only to find out my Chacha is not the only one with this strange cat feeding behaviour!
A cat’s whiskers are very sensitive and most likely kitty doesn’t like the feeling of rubbing hers on her food bowl. To avoid this unpleasant feeling, your fluffball may opt to leave some food in the middle of the food bowl or sometimes on the sides.
The quantity of food kitty will leave in the bowl entirely depends on the length of her whiskers. The depth and width of her food bowl also contribute to kitty leaving some food.
Think about it. Imagine having the sides of your face rubbing on your plate every time you eat.
The uncomfortably, the unnecessary friction.
Wait, it doesn’t end there. The food is also wet and now you also have to deal with a wet and dirty face.
That is the exact same situation kitty is feeling!
But that’s not all. Cats predominantly use their whiskers to hunt explaining why they are very sensitive.
This also explains why some cats will only eat food off the floor.
What to do when kitty only eats food in the middle of the bowl.
The pressure cats pile on us to provide food for them is almost unbearable for us as cat parents and you would think that they would finish up all the food.
Most cat parents I talked to felt that their kitty was a spoilt cat for not finishing their food. But wait, there is an underlying problem that might be influencing your fluffball’s feeding behaviour.
Having been there before, I didn’t like it when Chacha left her food in her bowl. It made it harder to clean not to mention you’ll be wasting a lot of cat food in the process.
To deal with this cat eating behaviour, you need to get kitty a new wider plate depending on your cat’s size and whiskers. However, the average cat food bowl should be 12 cm in width as this size accommodates most cats comfortably.
Cats also prefer shallow wide bowls during feeding time. Getting kitty a shallow bowl also reduces the chances of her not finishing up her meal.
When the bowl is deep, chances are your cat will leave some food at the bottom of the bowl. However, with a wider plate/bowl, your fluffball can easily access all the food.
We all know cats love their comfort zones, and this applies to feeding time too. They will avoid stretching to access the food at the bottom. I mean, why should I stress myself if I can call my human and I’ll get more food (insert Garfield’s voice).
While at it, avoid plastic cat food bowls as they are generally harder to clean.
Cats can also sense the metallic nature of metallic bowls and simply put, they don’t like it.
Your best pick would be a stainless glass bowl, you just need to be careful and not drop them 🙂.
This way, you have a better shot at having your cat eat most of the food if not all of it.
Why do some cats only eat after shaking their bowl?
There are two reasons why some cats only eat food after you shake their bowl.
a) The scent of the food.
Cats have an excellent sense of smell and they smell different scents in the air that we can’t.
You can test this out yourself. Try putting some food in your cat’s bowl when s/he is not around/aware.
When kitty feels hungry, you’ll notice that she’ll call out for you to come and feed her.
Why? Because cats don’t find the food’s smell interesting to them. Most cats love some fresh food and will without a doubt pick some fresh tuna over some meal that’s been lying around for hours.
Now, to trick your cat into eating the food, you just need to shake the bowl.
Shaking the bowl makes the food burst with flavour and the cat can smell the fresh scent from the food. The dry crusty particles will get mixed up with the rest of the food and fluffball can now enjoy her meal.
This also explains why a cat will pick fresh food over refrigerated food; because of the scent.
Some cats also get confused when shaking a food bowl and they may think you’ve added some food.
b) A cat’s whiskers are extremely sensitive
Cats have very sensitive whiskers and will do anything to protect them.
While feeding, the food may end up at the sides of the bowl. Kitty does not appreciate this and will meow at you until you either add some more food or shake the bowl so they can continue feeding.
When you shake the food bowl, the food forms a mound that your cat can easily feed on without having to rub whiskers with the sides of the container.
Why do cats meow for food when they still have food in their bowl?
Every cat owner has probably experienced it numerous times when feeding their kitty. You’d expect your fluffball to dive into the food and only request for more when s/he finishes what you’ve provided.
If only it was that easy!
You know the drill. You put some food in the bowl and leave your kitty enjoying the meal.
However, a few minutes later you hear kitty thumping her little cute paws towards you and demanding more food.
Of course, as a caring purrent, you’ll most likely head over to her bowl to add more food. But wait, there’s still some food there. So why is she demanding more yet kitty hasn’t finished her food?
Some cats will follow you around meowing and demanding food even though they still have some food in their bowl.
From my experience with cats, they do this so that they can keep a food reserve for themselves.
I observed that although I put enough food in Chacha’s bowl, she will feed for a few minutes then come back demanding more food.
As a faithful purrent, I always add her some more food though not a lot as I don’t want her overfeeding.
If you do the same, on close inspection, you’ll find that kitty will later on head over to her bowl and feed. She just wants to have some food for whenever she feels like eating.
You’re probably asking yourself why wouldn’t she just eat her food and then when she’s done she can ask for more? I’ll always feed her if she wants more so why is she not finishing her food to preserve it for later?
Here’s the deal. We all know cats love to live by their rules and feeding is no exception.
Kitty does not like you dictating how and when she will feed. Granted, you have a routine where you only feed her at a particular time.
But this might be exactly what she is rebelling! Wouldn’t you like to grab a bite whenever you feel some hunger pungs? That’s the same reason why kitty is preserving her food!
Cats hate uncertainties and love some form of security. S/he wants to know that there is food and kitty can easily munch on something when hunger strikes.
To avoid begging for food every time, a cat will simply choose to preserve their leftovers for later.
So go ahead and add some food to her bowl whenever she demands some because it will come in handy when she needs the food.
Final thoughts on why your cat will only eat food in the middle of the bowl.
In conclusion, it would be best to get your cat a wider plate to avoid this habit.
Alternatively, you can also elevate your cat’s food plate to avoid only eating in the middle of the bowl.