Is This Normal: Why Do Cats Act Like Their Food Bowl Is Empty?

Q:My cat will sometimes stare at his bowl and look at me like he wants food even though there is clearly food in it. He mainly eats the food from the middle of the bowl. Why do cats think their food bowl is empty when it isn’t? Is that normal?

A: Your cat may be meowing at their still-full bowl for several reasons, including they’re already worried about where their next meal will come from, their bowl doesn’t allow them to easily eat all their food (whether wet food or dry food) or they just know all that noise will get a response out of you. It’s common but technically not normal and should be addressed.

Cats are mysterious little creatures, and as cat parents, sometimes their behaviors stump us. Acting like their food bowl is empty at mealtime, even when there’s plenty of food in it, is one of those odd behaviors. We’ve tapped three cat experts to help solve this common kitty conundrum.

Is your cat’s food bowl empty when you check it? If so, your kitty might just be using its paws to sense the amount of food in the bowl. Believe it or not, this behavior isn’t as uncommon as you think; many cat owners have reported their pet displaying these food-bowl-emptying tendencies. So if this sounds familiar, don’t be surprised! Here’s what may cause your cat to act like her food bowl is always empty.

Why does my cat act like her bowl is empty?

Cats have a natural tendency to conserve their energy. Therefore, they do not always act like they are hungry when they are hungry. They can also be picky eaters and prefer certain types of food. So if your cat is acting like their bowl is empty, it may be that the food you put in there isn't what they want to eat or that the bowl is out of their line of sight.

If they’re worried about their next meal or bored by mealtime…
Feeder toys or puzzle toys for cats can help relieve some of that boredom and anxiety.

How can I help my cat stop acting like it’s empty when it isn’t?

Cats are fastidious eaters and often know when their food is not up to their standards. You may want to try a different brand or flavor of food. It may also be that your cat is just feeling picky! Just like people, cats have different preferences for what they like to eat. However, if your cat still insists on acting hungry even though he has had plenty of food in his dish, then it is possible that something else is going on. This might mean that your cat isn’t feeling well and needs some extra attention from the vet!

How should I store food for my cat so she doesn’t freak out that the bowl looks empty before dinner time?

Cats are notoriously finicky eaters, and they have a tendency to get really anxious if their food bowl looks empty. Some cats will even meow louder or act more needy in an effort to get you to feed them sooner. To prevent your kitty from freaking out, follow these tips for storing food:
- Store their food in an opaque container like Tupperware with a lid so your cat can't see what's inside. - Make sure the container is sealed tightly so the smell of the food doesn't escape and there is no risk of flies getting into it. - Place the container on a higher surface where your cat can't reach it.

What else could be causing this behavior from my cat in terms of health issues or other conditions?

The most common reason for a cat to act like their food bowl is empty is because they don't feel full. This can be due to eating too fast, being too active before or after eating, or not getting enough water. It could also be due to a medical condition such as diabetes or kidney disease. If the behavior continues and there are no obvious reasons for it, you may want to take your cat in to see the veterinarian so they can rule out any health issues that might be causing this behavior.