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My male cat, he's about 2 years old (we adopted him) has some strange behaviors, first off he was a rescued barn cat. Since we've had him he has played in his litter box and drags his food dish across the kitchen and dumps his food and water. It almost looks like he is trying to bury his food. Now the litter, he stands by his litter box and drags it out into the floor, walks away and go back and do the same thing... We clean his litter box every day.

I'm just trying to understand why he does these things...
 

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Maybe he doesn't like the litter box when it is and he's arranging things his way? Maybe move the box to a different location and see if he likes that better.

As for burying the food, a lot of cats will do this....an natural instinct that cats in the wild (leopards, lynx) do to save food from other predators to come back and eat at another time.
 

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Was he left mostly to his own devices without much human interference when he was a barn cat? This sounds like the behavior of an animal that knows it's not on the top of the food chain and hasn't been raised in an environment that shelters him from that reality. It's a tactic to disguise his scent and his presence from other predators, and like catloverami said, they will often bury their food to hide it from other animals when they can't finish it all in one sitting.

As for the food issue, I'm guessing you free-feed? That's not really necessary, as cats are built to hunt and gorge, not graze all day. The design of their digestive system actually does better with periods of no food between feedings. For a domesticated cat, it's safe to go up to maybe 18 hours or so but they will probably let let you know they're kind of hungry every 4 to 8 hours, depending on how big their last meal was. Put the food down and what he doesn't eat in 30 minutes, take it away and put it back later when he's letting you know he's really hungry.

Sorry, I don't know what to do about the litterbox thing. Do they make weighted ones? If there is such a thing, that might at least help with him not being able to drag it, though it doesn't address his feeling of needing to. But it's because he's protecting himself from other predators.
 

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my kitten "buried his food" since I met him at 10 or 11 weeks, and he was never an outdoor cat. His mother gave birth in a shelter. This isn't always behavior learned out of necessity. I think it must be genetic or instinct.

He might eventually learn not to. My kitten doesn't do it as often any more. I also switched to heavy ceramic bowls. He's old enough now where he could knock them over if he really wanted to, but i don't think that was ever the goal -- it was the pawing at the ground to bury that accidentally knocked the lighter plastic bowls over.

Luckily he never messed with his litter box. Maybe you can put the litter box in a larger plastic tub or do you think he'll drag the whole contraption?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you everybody!

I do think he was left to his own devices when he was a barn cat...that does make sense, I hadn't thought of it that way. Sometimes by the way he acts I wonder if someone or something tormented him when he was little and he's reacting to past events.

The question as to free feeding, I give him food twice a day once in the morning and in the evening... When we first got him he would wolf down his food then throw up right after eating, so I split his food up into 2 feedings... I do like the idea of picking his food dish up after he eats...I'm going to try that...

I do think that I will get him a heaver bowl, that's a great idea...

Thank's everybody, I appreciate your advice!!
 

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He could have been tormented, or bullied, or just neglected. No way of knowing, really. All you can do is keep reinforcing the idea that they're safe and secure now with you.

My girl, Diva, has had all kinds of issues with food including eating too fast and then throwing up. It's not pleasant for her and then I'm left looking at the partially-digested remains thinking, that's almost a buck fifty in cat food sitting on my carpet! (And always the carpet. Never the tile.) I've tried about a million and one foods with her... well, and her brother, but he has a digestive tract made of iron... but she's just so sensitive.

Some brands work better than others for a particular cat and the labeling is so deliberately deceptive and misleading there's no way to know until you try. Experiment with different foods and find a few that he can tolerate. You'll probably find that some work better than others, even ones that are considered top of the line.
 
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