Why Does My Cat Eat With His Paw?

Cat eating with its paw

Normally, cats tend to eat their food straight out of their bowls. They’ll sometimes even take it a bit farther away from their bowls, play with it a little, and then eat it. But if your cat starts picking up food much as humans do, that’s pretty interesting for a pet.

Of course, this will have you asking, ‘Why does my cat eat with his paw?’

There are many things that could explain this behavior. For instance, your cat might just like the feeling of food on his paws, or he may be mimicking you!

In this article, we’ll discuss this topic more in-depth and answer some questions you may be having about it.

8 Things That Might Explain Why a Cat Eats With His Paw

Cats are pretty unpredictable sometimes, so it may be tricky for you to understand why yours is using his paw to eat. However, by taking a look at the following reasons, we may be able to clear some of the confusion away.

A Personal Quirk

Cats, if not all animals, have personalities and characters of their own, which isn’t different from us humans. So, it’s only natural that your cat is into some habits that may seem strange to you.

Just like how some people prefer to eat with a certain spoon, your cat might simply be eating with his paw because he likes it. Sure, it’s not a common sight amongst cats, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a completely normal thing.

To Feel the Food’s Texture

Unlike dogs, who’ll munch at their treats without a second thought, cats like to watch and sense their food. And, because their paws are very sensitive and flexible, they allow maximum access to the food’s texture.

Furthermore, your furry friend might use his paw to sense the temperature of his food.

In this scenario, you’ve probably introduced a new type of food to your kitten. So, eating with his paw might be his own way of exploring and testing this new addition to his diet. Once he becomes more familiar with it, he’ll most likely drop this behavior altogether.

The Bowl Is Deep

Sometimes, we’re too preoccupied to think twice about the size of the bowl out of which our cat eats. A pet bowl should be good enough for all cats, right? Well, not exactly.

If you’re not paying attention, you may be serving food in a bowl that is too deep. So, in order to get better access to his meals, your cat might resort to scooping his food with his paw and lifting it to his fluffy mouth.

A quick way to know if this is the issue is to watch your cat closely while he’s eating. If he’s having trouble with a deep bowl, it’ll be pretty easy to notice that he’s struggling. Then, you could switch to a shallower plate that he could consume his food right from.

The Bowl Isn’t Properly Located

We’re not talking about being properly located based on our standards as humans. On the opposite, the bowl’s location must meet the cat’s needs. We know that it’s pretty tricky to understand what a cat wants, but here’s a wild guess.

See, cats aren’t fans of surprises, so they must be alert at all times. In other words, their ears and eyes should be able to cover their surroundings while they’re eating, playing, or even napping.

Therefore, if you’ve placed your cat’s bowl in a quiet, isolated corner of the house to make cleaning easier, he might not be so pleased. In that case, he won’t be able to monitor the room efficiently.

As a result, your feline buddy may start eating out of his paw to give his eyes and ears more room to sense everything. This way, he could eat and remain alert at the same time.

Too Close to Water

If the food bowl is right next to the water bowl, your cat might prefer to carry the food away from the water. But, what’s the reason behind this strange behavior?

In the wild, cats don’t feed on their prey next to a water source. This is because the water could easily be contaminated by bodily substances from the prey.

This ages-old instinct still exists in the subconsciousness of cats to this day. So, if that’s the case with your cat, you’ll want to pick another location for his or her food bowl.

Your Cat Is Following Your Lead

While it’s a bit hard to believe, cats might start mimicking humans since they’ve spent centuries too far from the wild.

Some studies even proved that cats didn’t originally make any vocal noises. Instead, they’ve developed this behavior after being domesticated by humans. When cats noticed how people communicated with their voices, these fluffy balls began to do the same!

Thus, it’s not hard to picture your cat following your lead when it comes to eating out of his paw.

It might’ve started as a natural response to spending too much time around you and your family members while you ate. But then, your cat may have simply found it more comfortable than eating straight out of the bowl.

Cats can be more intelligent than we give them credit for, right?

His Inner Hunter Surfacing

Domestic cats haven’t had their shot at being hunters, unlike their bigger siblings. That doesn’t mean that their natural predatory instincts are gone, though. They’ll just appear in many actions that you might find too confusing to understand.

One of the ways that your cat’s hunting instincts could be showing is through eating with his paw. He might like poking his dry food, playing with it, then putting it in his mouth. It can be his way of channeling his inner hunter.

Most of the time, this behavior can be seen in young cats. On the contrary, older felines might have had some previous hunting experience, so chasing around their food isn’t so common.

Long Whiskers

A cat’s whiskers are another sensitive part of his body, and he’ll often use them to sense any vibrations or movements around him. So, if he has too long whiskers that get caught in the food bowl while he’s eating, he might not be so comfortable in this position.

To keep from rubbing his whiskers against the bowl, a cat may choose to eat with his paws instead.

Should I Stop My Cat From Eating With His Paw?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with this behavior since it’s generally not an indicator of an issue that your cat might be facing. So, if you notice your cat repeatedly eating with his paw, just let him be.

Of course, if you suspect that this action might mean that your cat is having trouble eating, you’ll have to solve that problem. For instance, if the bowl is too deep for your cat to eat with comfort, you must replace it.

The same goes if your cat isn’t that happy with where you’re keeping the food bowl. It’s a good idea to change the location of the bowl to give your kitten’s eyes and ears enough space to watch their surroundings.

Owners who have several cats in their households must apply a different technique with each cat to adjust his or her behavior. Just like us humans, cats come in all sorts of personalities, so you’ll need to handle each one separately.

When Should I Prevent My Cat From Eating With His Paw?

The only scenario where it might be problematic if your cat eats with his paw is if you have several cats in your household. It’s not the act of eating itself that’s worrisome, but rather a cat’s tendency to carry his food afterward and play with it on the floor.

As you can probably imagine, this could lead to countless fights over food since every one of your felines will want to grab at it.

In this case, we recommend that you take steps to identify the reason behind this behavior. And, once you do, you could solve this issue so that every cat sticks to his or her food bowl.

What Does It Mean If a Cat Won’t Eat Out of Her Bowl at All?

In this case, things may not be so simple. If a cat refuses to eat out of her bowl, she might be suffering from a health condition that makes it painful to remain in this position for too long.

For instance, senior cats could have arthritis, which makes lowering their necks or crouching down uncomfortable. Also, older cats might start having trouble with their sight due to old age. So, a cat may not be able to see her food clearly.

It’s best to seek the help of a vet at this point not to face any more health-related issues in the future.

Is It Wrong That My Cat Likes to Eat From My Hand?

No. It’s merely a sign that he likes you, trusts you, and would always seek you for protection.

However, we recommend that you don’t make your cat dependent on this behavior. You won’t always be around to feed him with your hand. And, after a while of continuously doing it, stopping it suddenly might make him super confused and anxious.

Instead, you could do it occasionally to strengthen the bond between you and your little buddy.

Final Thoughts

As cat owners, we often find ourselves asking friends and family members weird questions. ‘Why does my cat meow so loudly’, or, ‘Is my cat really hungry or is he just spoiled?’

Yet, we’ve found out that, ‘Why does my cat eat with his paw?’ is a recurring question, so we had to answer it.

A cat might use his paw to eat for a variety of reasons. He could be imitating your eating habits, having problems with a deep bowl, connecting with his wild instincts, or more.

Once you identify the cause behind this behavior, it’ll be easy to adjust to your liking if you ever feel the need to. But, as long as it doesn’t mean trouble, you can let your cat eat with his paw as he pleases.