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Why Do Cats Lay Down When They Eat Or Drink? [Is It A Problem?]

I’ve observed it many times; my cats laying down while they eat and drink.

It made me question why they did this, if it were a problem and if I needed to do anything about it.

I’m assuming you find yourself in the same position?

Well today, I am going to provide you with he answers that vet’s and experts have relayed to me.

In this article, I’ll overview the common reasons behind this behavior.

You’ll gain insight into your cat’s mealtime positioning.

Let’s unravel the mysteries behind why cats lay down when they eat or drink!

Why Do Cats Lay Down When They Eat Or Drink?

Cats lay down when eating or drinking for a few reasons. Laying down brings their head closer to the food or water, allowing them to eat and drink more comfortably without having to bend down as far. It also helps them feel more relaxed and less vulnerable while eating, as they can survey their surroundings and react quickly if needed. The position is also calming and soothing for many cats.

Easy Access to Food and Water

By positioning themselves directly beside or on top of the bowl, they don’t have to get up and walk over every time they want a bite or a sip.

Laying down puts the food and water within quick reach so they can eat comfortably.

It also allows them to guard and monitor their valuable resources.

Calming, Soothing Position

The reclined position helps them feel more relaxed and less anxious or vulnerable while eating.

Cats like to be able to survey their surroundings for potential threats when they are in a vulnerable position with their head down near food.

Laying down allows them to remain relaxed while also keeping an eye on what’s going on nearby.

The familiarity of this position makes mealtimes less stressful.

Comfortable Eating and Drinking Posture

Rather than having to bend their neck down at an awkward angle, laying down brings their mouth down to bowl level.

This makes eating and drinking much more comfortable, natural, and less strenuous.

Gravity also aids their ability to lap up water and eat food easily. The reclined posture takes pressure off their backs, necks, and legs.

To Protect Their Resources

Cats are very territorial, and laying near their food and water bowls is a way to mark those areas as theirs.

By positioning themselves around the bowls, they are communicating that this is their space and resources.

It lets other pets in the home know to keep their distance.

Laying down allows them to guard and monitor the bowls while also sending a message that this territory belongs to them.

It provides security and satisfies their instinct to patrol and control their domain.

Bowl Design and Placement

Bowls that are too small, shallow, narrow, or unstable may prompt cats to lay down to get adequate access.

Placing bowls in confined spaces or up against walls can make standing uncomfortable.

Elevated bowls and floor mats can ease strain. Consider your cat’s needs and limitations when selecting and situating bowls.

Is It Okay For Cats To Eat And Drink While Laying Down?

It is generally okay and safe for cats to eat and drink while laying down, as long as they are able to swallow comfortably. The relaxed position can actually make eating and drinking easier for some cats.

However, cats with respiratory issues or trouble swallowing should be monitored and may do better eating upright.

Overall, the behavior is natural and not a concern in healthy cats.

When To Be Concerned If Your Cat Is Eating Or Drinking Laying Down

  • They are showing signs of discomfort or gagging while swallowing in the laid down position. This could indicate an issue like megacolon or esophageal disorders.
  • They have a history of respiratory issues like asthma that could make swallowing difficult. Laying flat can exacerbate breathing problems.
  • They are a senior cat who could be developing cognitive decline or other age-related conditions impacting their eating habits.
  • The behavior is new and they have rapidly lost interest in eating or drinking from bowls upright. It could signal an underlying medical problem.
  • They aren’t getting enough food or water when eating horizontal, leading to dehydration or weight loss. The position may limit intake.
  • They have dental disease or problems with their mouth, jaws or neck that make eating upright painful.

Overall, the biggest concerns are if the cat is struggling or failing to swallow comfortably, or the position appears to be limiting their nutrition and hydration.

Check with your vet if you notice anything abnormal or concerning.

Other Tips And Suggestions

Ensuring Comfortable Eating Postures

  • Monitor your cat during mealtimes and look for signs of discomfort or difficulty reaching their bowl. Intervene if the position appears problematic.
  • Consider elevating food and water bowls to reduce neck strain. Bowls or feeding stations at chest level allow for a more comfortable head tilt.
  • Place bowls on non-slip mats or carpets so your cat has good footing when laying down to eat or drink. Ensure the flooring is not hard or smooth.
  • Avoid cramped areas that don’t allow your cat enough space to lay comfortably adjacent to their bowl. Open areas are best.

Choosing the Right Bowl and Placement

  • Select wide, shallow bowls that are easy to access from a laying down position. Narrow, deep bowls can make drinking and chewing difficult.
  • Use heavy, non-tip bowls that will stay upright when your cat lays down directly beside or on top of them. Lightweight bowls may tip and spill.
  • Set food and water bowls in low-traffic areas to minimize disturbances and make laying to eat more appealing. Cats want peace and quiet at mealtimes.
  • Place bowls away from walls and corners to facilitate laying on either side of the bowl, rather than just one. This allows stretching and posture changes.


A cat’s tendency to lay down while eating or drinking stems from a combination of physical ease, comfort, territorial instincts, and environmental factors.

As cat owners, the best we can do is set them up for mealtime success with the right bowls and placement to support their natural feline inclinations.

While their horizontal dining habits may seem peculiar, understanding the motivations behind this behavior gives us appreciation for our cats’ unique natures.

After all, they have adapted as creatures over thousands of years to exhibit conduct that makes the most sense for their abilities and lifestyles.

In the end, we can show our cats care and respect by accommodating their needs to eat and drink in whatever position suits them best – even if it happens to be laying down!

Related Questions

Why do cats lay in front of water bowl?

Cats lay in front of their water bowl for a few reasons. They may want easy access to the water or be protecting it. Cats also like to be near resources they value, so laying by the bowl can be a sign they like having it available. The area around the bowl may also be cool, dry, and comfortable for resting.

Why do cats lay in front of water bowl?