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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

About a month ago, one cat (Moe) in a 2-cat household started to eat his wet food by scooping it out of his dish with his paw and licking it off his paw, with no signs of distress or anything. His brother doesn’t do this. The two of them are very much friends, and nobody seems upset, and their food hasn’t been changed or anything – it’s just like Moe decided that this was the way to eat wet food. I have never known a cat (and I’ve known lots of cats) to do this (I suppose one could train a cat to, but this was totally unprovoked). Anyone else ever heard of a cat doing this?

~Original Cat

Siouxsie: We have heard of a number of unusual eating habits and styles in cats, including the old “scoop the food out of the bowl” method. But this is the first we’ve heard of scooping and licking food off the paw.

Thomas: But aside from basic hygiene concerns, we don’t think it’s anything you need to worry about.

Dahlia: Speaking personally, I wouldn’t want to eat food from off my paws. I know where those feet have been! And even though I (and the rest of the Paws and Effect gang) are very keen about keeping ourselves clean and shiny, we can’t help the fact that our feet are always touching the floor and our kitty litter, and anything else we’ve managed to walk through in our daily excursions.

Siouxsie: On the other hand, we do clean our paws regularly, even if they have been touching the floor and other dirty places.

Thomas: There are a couple of reasons Moe may have decided he doesn’t want to eat wet food out of the bowl. Some cats don’t like to eat out of vessels where their whiskers touch the sides. You could try giving him food in a shallower and wider dish — perhaps even a plate or saucer — and see if he eats his food in a more typical way.

Dahlia: Moe also may have decided he doesn’t like the way his wet food smells when it’s in the dish. We cats do prefer not to eat out of plastic bowls. Mama gives us our food in ceramic dishes, and other cats eat out of stainless steel dishes.

Siouxsie: If Moe eats dry food from his dish in the usual way, his wet food eating preference may be due to the fact that his dish “crawls away from him” as he licks at his wet food. Using a heavier dish or a steel dish with a rubber “foot” will prevent this from happening.

Thomas: But basically, we think Moe’s odd eating preference is nothing to worry about. Some cats just prefer to eat with their “hands,” I guess. Perhaps he’s taking after his humans in this way.

Dahlia: Just so you know that Moe isn’t alone with his peculiar eating behavior, we’ll point you to a column we wrote some time ago about a cat that compulsively digs and scratches around his food dish. This behavior is not at all uncommon.

Siouxsie: And then there’s the column about the cat that likes to take showers and splash water all over the place! That was a fun one to write about.

Thomas: And here’s another column about a water splasher, this one a senior citizen kitty. We took some time in that column to discuss the special needs of older cats, so if you’ve got an elder feline, you may find some good information there too.

Dahlia: Before we go, we’d like thank our readers all around the world and wish you all blessings for Christmas, Hanukkah (we know we’re late for that one, but we didn’t forget our Jewish friends!), Eid’ul-Adha, Yule, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, and any holiday you celebrate during this season. Thank you all for your support and your letters, and many purrs to you all!

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