Why does my cat paw her food from the bowl to eat?
Ever since she was a kitten, my cat has generally preferred to pull her kibble out of her food bowl a piece at a time and eat them off of the floor. She also has a tendency to drink her water by dipping her paws in and licking the water off.
She displays this behaviour about half the time. As far as I can tell, it's usually when she is more relaxed or lazy, but there's no discernible pattern from which I can draw conclusions.
Occasionally she will lounge with one arm around the kibble bowl, pulling the food out with the other paw, almost as if she's eating a bag of chips.
It's just her style.... My cats all have different eating styles. My cat Pounce does things similar to your cat (she pawed food more when she was younger). She also likes to paw at the water bowl. It is a personal style and makes things more interesting, food and play at the same time.
One of mine does this too. Its a heck of a mess and attracts ants if left on the floor, but as I am working from home these days, a small dustpan and brush come in handy--I just sweep it back up and re-deposit it in the bowl. (They only eat dry) With cats, I know I can only train them so much, I have to pick my battles. This one I have given up on and just sweep it up.
One thing to check: is the bowl shallow enough and small enough for her to comfortably reach the food?
I have a cat who does this, and have heard about the behavior in other cats. One researcher (sorry I don't have a reference) believes that some cats don't like their whiskers touching the sides of food or water bowls, so they use their paws. In engineering terms whiskers serve as sensitive proximity sensors, sending a signal to the brain when they contact something.
You can try a bigger bowl or a fountain-style bowl if you don't like puddles of water around the water bowl. Several of my cats enjoy sitting in the tub or sink and drinking a thin steam of water right from the tap.
Hmm, I can imagine cats doing this because of whisker sensitivity. It's tough to know whether this is the case with mine as she only does it sometimes. As I mentioned, it may be based on her mood.
Recently, I got her a food-dispensing ball which she seems to enjoy. Of course, it deposits kibble on the floor, so she's probably fine with that. I'll try using a shallow, wider dish for her kibble for a while and report back on whether there is a behavioural change. Yes, mine likes to drink from the bathroom tap as well. Before long I think she may figure out how to turn it on. :) (I apologize for separate comments. I didn't realize the comment would be submitted on hitting return.)