Critter Culture
15 Weird Eating Habits Your Pet Might Adopt

15 Weird Eating Habits Your Pet Might Adopt

Critter Culture Staff



Mealtime with pets is rarely a dull moment. For most pet owners, this vital exchange can be anything from demanding yowls for dinner to the happiest tail wag, but for others? They watch their pets and their weird eating habits, wondering how they ended up with such a quirky creature.

Not every pampered pooch or feline is going to be the polite eater, and there are tons of pet food habits that'll have you doing a double-take.


Moving food from the bowl to the floor

While you may prefer eating out of a dish, there's a chance your furbaby doesn't feel the same. Dogs and cats can both be seen fishing kibble out of their food bowl onto the floor, where they happily gulp it up. This could be nothing, but it could also be a problem with the bowl—like how it smells, the noise their tags make banging against the metal—or they may just like the floor.

FatCamera / Getty Images


Playing with food

If you frequently find kibble scattered all over the floor but the bowl right-side up, it's a sure sign your furbaby has taken to playing during mealtime. If you don't want to deal with the mess, consider the most likely causes of this behavior—the most common is that they're bored or aren't getting enough non-food playtime. They could also be bored with their food or be anxious.

Dog catching a biscuit. ClarkandCompany / Getty Images


Pushing the food bowl around

Some dogs just don't like to sit still, and when you put their food bowl down, they might manage to push it all over the room with their vigorous licks before they finish eating. Unfortunately, this practice is more common when pets are eating wet food, which can quickly make a mess. If it bothers you, or if you're tired of tripping over it in the morning, consider putting their bowl in a stand so they can't move it.

A golden retriever puppy stands on modern vinyl panels in the living room of a home and drinks water from a ceramic bowl. Kinek00 / Getty Images


Dipping a paw in the water

There's dipping, and then there's digging. Some dogs and cats dip their paws into their water bowls before licking them off. Some dogs may also see their water bowl as a fun way to pass the time, digging and splashing in it. Cats dip their paws for another reason altogether—it helps them gauge how deep the water is and whether their whiskers will touch the sides; it might also be a learned way to test a small amount to ensure it's fresh.

Boston Terrier dog playing with water in a bowl using a paw. She is outside garden on grass with danelions. CBCK-Christine / Getty Images


Bobbing their heads while eating

Some dogs like to bob their heads while they eat. In most cases, it's just a silly quirk, and your pup is showing how excited they are to get a good meal, like a toddler doing a happy food dance after a great bite. Sometimes, it can be a sign that your dog has a medical condition, especially if they bob their heads at other times too.

Cute dog eating food from bowl TatyanaGl / Getty Images


Covering up their food

If your furry friend has a tendency to eat half their food, then try to cover it up, it's their way of saving the leftovers for later. Instinctively, some pets will hide away food for later if they're not in the mood to eat it. Others may hide some if they're food insecure and worried they may not have access to it later when they want it.

Cat eating out of bowl eclipse_images / Getty Images


Refusing to eat while you're watching them

Some dogs, and, to a lesser extent, cats, won't eat in front of other people. Yes, it can be adorable (or at least amusing) to watch them scarf down a meal, but an easily distracted dog may not be able to focus on eating when you're there. Give them some privacy and let them munch away in peace.

Girl Patting and Feeding Dog DragonImages / Getty Images


Only eating while you're watching them

Conversely, some dogs and cats refuse to eat unless you're there with them. This is typically a sign of security, especially in adopted or rescued pets who have separation anxiety or abandonment issues. They're counting on you to watch their backs while they're vulnerable. If you're worried about separation anxiety, especially if your pet shows other signs of anxiety, it may be time for a chat with their vet.

Loving korean lady petting her dog while feeding it Prostock-Studio / Getty Images


Eating one kibble at a time

Have you noticed your cat expertly fishing one kibble out of the bowl at a time? Or your dog licking up one and slowly eating it? While this can be a sign of a dental problem that makes eating painful, it can also just be a silly quirk. They might not like their bowl, or they may just be savoring their meal. As long as there's no signs of pain in the mouth, just enjoy this weird behavior and consider getting them their own TikTok account.

The cat eats dry food and pills from a bowl. Mukhina1 / Getty Images


Flipping the food bowl

Food bowl flipping can be attention-seeking, especially if your pet has noticed that you look at them or talk to them when they do it. However, it could be a sign of frustration about the food, whether you haven't given them enough or if they don't like it. In some rare cases, if eating is making your pup uncomfortable, they might flip the bowl to show they don't want it.

Gray cat on the floor of the room near a bowl of water. View from above Iuliia Alekseeva / Getty Images


Scratching at the floor around the bowl

If your cat tends to scratch all around the food bowl without eating, they're sending you a clear message: Feed them something else! Cats bury food or things they see as undesirable, just like they would their feces in the litter box. If they do this after eating some of the food, though, they may just be full and trying to bury their meal to avoid a mess.

Tabby cat eating from bowl Stephen Roberts / Getty Images


Devouring the food too quickly

Some pets may be slow eaters, but others practically inhale their meals. It's pretty common in multi-pet households, where animals feel like they have to scarf down their food to prevent others from stealing it. They may also devour it if they aren't on a regular feeding schedule.

As silly as it looks, eating like this can also hurt their stomachs and, in some cases, even cause bloat that can twist their stomach and potentially cause a rupture.

Golden Retriever eating chendongshan / Getty Images


Leaving food around the sides of the bowl

Cats, in particular, may develop a tendency to leave behind a ring of leftovers around the sides of their bowls. While they could just be full, if you notice the same habit even when reducing how much you put in the bowl, or your cat cries and acts like they're out of food when they still have a small handful in the bottom, they might just dislike their whiskers touching the bowl. Consider getting them a wider or flatter serving dish.

Serene dog tasting delicious meal YakobchukOlena / Getty Images


Picking out certain kibbles from the dish

Your pampered pet might have a particular taste. If you feed a kibble that has multiple types mixed together, you might notice they pick out certain colors or shapes and leave behind others. This pickiness can be frustrating, but if your pet isn't budging on eating those specific flavors, switching to a homogenous food may help.

Dalmatian Eating her Dinner SolStock / Getty Images


Drinking from weird places

Cats specifically are prone to drinking from strange places, and a lot of it comes from biology. They don't want to drink water that's been standing still or is near food or bathroom areas because it could be contaminated. They might also be attracted to the dripping sound and water drops falling from a faucet.

A cat drinks water in a summer garden on a hot day Taalulla / Getty Images


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