Why do cats never finish their food? I don’t hide. I have a bit of an issue with my cat. He would never finish his food; even if I put half of it, he will still leave some in the bowl. Is my cat on a mission against me to make me waste food? Or is there another reason?

Cats don’t finish their food because they are full already, or they may have a problem with their whiskers fitting into the food bowl, or they want to leave it for later in case of scarcity of food or cats that like eating little but often. In this latter case, cats are used to eat a little bit and then come back more times to the food bowl during the day. Those cats are not going to eat in 2 or three times a day meal.

Let’s dive more into it.

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My cat made me waste a lot of food because I could not understand what was going on with him and the fact that whatever amount of food I gave him, he would always leave in the bowl at least half of it. Even when I tried tricking him and put less food for him, he still managed to forget some in it.

From the other side, I had another kitten that would clean up everything in the bowl, and as soon as she saw food, she became a sort of vacuum cleaner. While one cat could self manage food amounts and keep slim, the other cat would eat non stop putting up weight.

Of course, the cat that never finishes his food is also very picky, while the other cat would eat anything, so are they trying to drive me crazy?

Why cats never finish their food and some cats have to eat it all?


One reason that prevents cats from finishing their food is that they are already full after a bit of food. Some cats have little stomachs and can survive on less food than expected. Some can food for cats is also too much. They may look little, but I have actually found out that one can of food is way more than enough for a cat, half of it could do for a meal.

Sometimes my cat can be a bit more hungry and eat more than he usually does, but I have never seen him clean up the entire bowl. My other cat, the one who eats everything, usually manages to eat it almost all, but a full cat is too much even for her, but she gets really close.


Some cats are the types that like to eat a bit here and a bit there. They do not work with the feeding done 2 or 3 times a day. Those cats need to have food around so they can easily go, eat a little bit, maybe come back after an hour or two and do the same, and so on. With those types of cats, there is no way that they are going to finish their food.

The solution is to leave some food around, naturally dry food, and feed them some small portions of wet food here and there. One of my cats likes to eat a bit of dry food throughout the day, but he still wants to eat some canned food, but not a lot. If I do not give his meat, he starts complaining. This is how I know it


Some cats are sensible with their whiskers touching the food bowl; they do not like it, so if the food is not centered, they will not eat it; they will leave it in the bowl. This is why you can observe cats that eat only in the middle, creating a hole in the middle of the food, and leave the rest.

The solution is to use wider bowls for those types of cats to fit their whiskers with no problems and eat the food in the corners.


Some cats may give you the impression that they like the food you are giving them because they start eating it all the time, but eventually, they eat it a bit and then go away. It may very well be that they do not really like the food, but being hungry, he may start eating it anyway. As a solution, one can try to change the type of food and see if it is better.


Some cats may leave food on purpose in the bowl so they can eat it later. This can be because they are used to food scarcity and want to be sure that they are not starving later on. Some cats use to dig holes and hide food inside. It is not very common, but some cats do.

I have not seen any of my cats do that, even though one of my cats would start digging around the food bowl and try to cover the leftover food by scratching around it. She did not realize there wasn’t really sand to throw over the food, but she kept doing the movements. What can I say? At least she tried and left satisfied. Cats are weirds at times.

Why do cats never finish their food? If you have some other theory, please leave it in the comments below.


Here some related questions to “Why do cats never finish their food?” and related answers:

  • Do cats get bored of eating the same food?

Cats can get bored with their food if they always eat the same type; they have a taste sense too. The only bad point of their taste sense is the inability to taste the sweetness in food. It is believed that cats did not develop the “sweet tooth” because they are mainly carnivores. In this way, they are set to go after meat mainly.

However, they can taste meat and general cat food. Eating every day the same thing can tire them up and become a situation for their health if they cannot get all the nutrients from one type of food.

I like to vary from time to time, going toward more natural solutions for them. Sometimes I buy them some chicken or fish and cook it for them. Some cats can eat it just cooked; others want it to have it mixed with their favorite can food.

In this way, I can keep them healthy, and they are used to different food, if I have to change brand suddenly they are not going to be difficult like my first cat that did

  • Should I leave food out for my cat all day?

I do it because my cats have different eating habits. Some want to snack here and there between the meals. I leave out dry food and give them canned food 2 or three times a day, depends if they are complaining. It is mostly two times a day. It is also good at night because if they have food out, they let me sleep a bit longer.

  • Why do cats want you to walk them to their food?

This is particular to some cats. They want you to stand there and watch them while they are eating. If you move away, they stop eating. My cat used and still use to do it some times. I thought it was bizarre, and I still think it is weird. Now he does it mainly if there are other people around in the house. If we are alone, he eats by himself.

I concluded that he wants to be protected while eating; he doesn’t trust to eat alone; he basically wants to have a bodyguard.

  • Should i elevate my cats food bowl?

It can be a good idea to elevate cats’ food bowls to help them digest better and protect the food from dust and other dirt that can fly from the floor into food and water bowls. I used to keep the water a bit higher normally so that the water is not contaminated with dust and airs coming from the house and floor. It would be good to do it with food as well. Some senior cats can appreciate the help of eating from an elevated food bowl.

  • How long can I safely leave canned cat food out?

There are different opinions about how long canned food can be left out for cats. Normally, if it is not too hot for 3 to 4 hours, I would go for 1 to 2 hours max in summer. You can also look in your cat bowl and see when the food becomes crusty on top is time to take it away. I am very picky, though; if I see food left after 1 hour or 2, I take it away immediately


Why do cats never finish their food? I hope we were able to give you a complete answer. Let us know if you have more questions or want to add something; leave it in the comments below.


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