Our kitty (7 months) has less-than-desirable table manners that I would like to abate a bit, as they interfere with our cleanness standards. (The kitty seems to have, from the start, high cleanness standards in other respects, namely, he keeps his longish fur in perfect order, was perfectly toilet-trained, etc.) I used to have another cat that (was not a Coon and) did not exhibit this behaviour.

The cat uses his paws a lot when eating/drinking. He will lick milk or water on occasions, but more often he dips his front paw and licks the liquid from the paw, rather than drink from his bowl. At other times he will slosh the milk around the bowl. He lifts chunks of meat with paw, too, and tosses them randomly around bowl, maybe playing with them, eating them later from the floor. At other times, he burrows around the bowl (in vain, on a wooden floor) as if trying to hide its contents.

I do not know what to make of the burrowing. He usually does not finish what I give him, even in case I give him rather little wet food at one go. We give him high-quality canned meat for cats or freshly cooked meat at times. He seems loudly unhappy about going on solely dry food (which, admittedly, is much less messy).

I have tried a few options -- larger bowl, or bowl with saucer, to no great effect. I avoid deep bowls because of lots of whiskers. Of course I use a layer of newspaper to protect the floor, but no great improvement there either (burrows under newspaper for lost bits of food).

Before resigning, is there anything I can try?

  • 1
    My car is messy, but the mess is greatly reduced now that we've gotten her a neater feeder neaterfeederpet.com/?MID=5633284
    – Kai
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:30
  • 3
    A floor mat might work better than the newspaper... Some cats just like playing with their kill. Food is fun!
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 3:47
  • 1
    In addition to what @keshlam said, food off the floor clearly tastes better than from the bowl - our cat was the same and we had a wipe clean food mat.
    – Aravona
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:41

1 Answer 1


I work at an animal shelter and have seen this behavior in several cats. It's not the norm, but I see it in about one cat every few months. Mostly, it's with drinking. The cat sticks his paw in the water bowl and licks the water from its paw.

You have definitely tried the right things - shallow bowls or saucers and larger bowls. Have you tried placing his bowls on a small stand so that he doesn't have to bend as far?

Mostly, I'm thinking that you are making his food "experience" too easy. Maine Coons, after all, were bred to be hunters. Handing the food over to him in a dish is like putting a pretty bow around it and saying, "Here you go. I did your job for you."

He probably needs food puzzles so he can feel like he's working for his food. However, food puzzles are typically for dry food. I would give it a try anyway. You could start him out with some moist treats (between hard and wet food) to see how he reacts, and then try feeding him a dry meal. Here is a pic of my cat's fav:
food puzzle She eats all her dry meals from this. She puts her paw in the tubes and pulls the food out onto the mat. Then, she eats the food. Yes, you still have food on the mat that you must keep clean. However, this might just be fun enough that your cat will eat all the food he pulls out. Plus, since it's on the mat, it's easy to clean.

I would also recommend a flowing water fountain. One of my cats still has to put her paw in before she drinks. But, again, you can see the mat helps catch in water she flicks out.
cat water fountain

This will help your Main Coon work a little for his food, and the flowing water will be interesting and fun for him. I wish you the best!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.