It is well-known that cats can easily be trained to use a litter box. What is less known, however, is why they place litter over their waste. Why do cats cover their pee? Why do they bury their poop? Learn why in this short article.
Dominant cats like lions, tigers, and leopards do not always cover their feces, instead leaving it uncovered to mark their territory. Similarly, a cat that has recently been declawed or has a paw injury might find that spending time in a litter box or burying their waste hurts.
For cats with arthritis or a paw injury, consider investing in a litter box that has at least one low side so they can easily enter and exit.
Do cats always bury their poop?
Amy is an award-winning Certified Animal Behavior Consultant and author of 27 pet care books. So, it seems the only reason for a domesticated cat to bury her poop is if there is a dominant cat in the house. However, burying excrement is a very natural cat behavior.
Why does my cat hide and poop on the floor?
Behavioral Causes. Many cats dislike the litter box because it’s not clean. … Even something as minor as a change in your schedule can cause stress for a cat. Territory Marking: If you’ve recently brought home another cat, your cat may be trying to mark its territory by pooping on the rug.
Covering poop is a normal cat behavior, right? Not necessarily. Wild cats that bury their excrement do so for basically two reasons: one is to keep their presence unknown from possible predators. The other is to show that they are not challenging more dominant cats. These more dominant cats rarely bury feces, and often leave waste on grassy tussocks that elevate and make it even more prominent.
If your kitty has always dug-and-covered as normal litter box behavior, and suddenly makes a statement with uncovered poop, ask yourself what else has changed. In the wild, dominant cats (including jaguars, leopards, lions, and tigers) that are competing for territory don’t bury their feces, sending a message that they are declaring that spot at theirs.
If youre a regular reader, you know that lions, tigers, and other big wild cats love cardboard boxes, catnip, and unraveling rolls of toilet paper just as much as their smaller, domestic counterparts do. They also share some of the same bathroom behavior.
If your cat doesn’t cover her poop, what can you do? It can be frustrating (and a little smelly) if you find uncovered poop waiting in the litter box. Just remember: your cat isn’t doing this to be mean. If she’s not covering her poop, it could be because of nervousness, competition with other cats, health issues, or other reasons. You can encourage your cat to cover her poop by trying different litter and litter boxes, calming products, and decreasing the stress in her life.
Other stress triggers, like other cats wandering outside the house, might leave her feeling insecure. A cat may not cover his poop because the litter hurts his paws or he just doesn’t like the smell or feel.
If the box is too small, your cat might not feel comfortable moving around and burying his poop. A cat typically doesn’t cover his poop because of stress, pain, or litter box problems.
The evolution of burying waste
Cats are exceptionally clean animals. This is not the only reason that they bury their waste, though. All cats instinctively cover their waste. This includes wild cats, too. Although they don’t have litter in the wild, dirt, sand, and soil all work well to cover excrement. This instinct derives from the use of urine and feces to mark territory. A unique combination of scent markers called pheromones are characteristic of each individual cat’s feces. So while all cat poop probably smells the same to you, cats can identify one another by the way their poop smells.Dominant cats like lions, tigers, and leopards do not always cover their feces, instead leaving it uncovered to mark their territory. Other cats further down the food chain usually do bury their waste in order to not appear as a threat to more dominant cats. Moreover, cats of all sorts bury their waste so as to not attract predators since burying something decreases its smell. Domestic cats know that they depend on humans to survive and are not the most dominant in a household, which is why they too cover their poop and pee. Burying waste may also serve to decrease the prevalence of parasites, thereby reducing the chance of contracting a parasite-borne illness.
Why doesn’t my cat cover their excrement?
You may find that your cat does not always bury their waste. In rare cases, this may be because they feel that they are the dominant animal in a household. Sometimes it happens because of an underlying health condition. For instance, stomach problems or urinary tract infections can contribute to a cat not covering their waste. Your cat may be going blind and cannot see its box clearly.In older cats, arthritis may make it painful to use a litter box. Similarly, a cat that has recently been declawed or has a paw injury might find that spending time in a litter box or burying their waste hurts. For cats with arthritis or a paw injury, consider investing in a litter box that has at least one low side so they can easily enter and exit.
Lack of training
A lack of thorough training may also lead to your cat not burying their excrement. Kittens learn how to use a litter box by watching their mother, so if they are separated from their mother at a young age, they may need some extra help learning how to use a litter box properly.Other possible reasons for this issue is the fact that your cat might just feel lazy. Or maybe, the litter box is too dirty or too small, or they don’t like the type of litter in their box. To make sure your cat’s litter box is long enough, check that it can accommodate the full length of your cat when they are lying down. You should clear a litter box of waste daily, and change all of the litter out around every two weeks. Be cognizant of any changes in a cat’s behavior after switching the type of litter used in their box. Alternatively, your unspayed cat may be in heat, at which time they will mark their territory with urine in multiple places.In a multi-cat household, one cat may feel dominant over the others and the need to establish that hierarchy. You might be able to dissolve that hierarchy by providing your cats with multiple litter boxes, spaced throughout your home, to give each cat their own personal territory.If your cat is regularly not covering their waste or eliminating outside of his or her litter box altogether, you should seek advice from a veterinarian. They will work with you to determine if a medical problem is at play, and will also suggest other methods for solving the problem.Now you know why cats cover their waste and steps to take if they don’t. You can use your newfound knowledge to help fellow cat owners, too!
Humans have encouraged the behavior in our pet cats, by selectively choosing (and breeding) the ones that are “clean.” Cats that leave their excrement uncovered for the world to admire are not abnormal—they’re just being cats.If your kitty has always dug-and-covered as normal litter box behavior, and suddenly makes a statement with uncovered poop, ask yourself what else has changed. This may be the cat’s way of sending a smelly signal to other cats (or even a stray hanging around outside the window) that the territory is owned.
In the wild, dominant cats (including jaguars, leopards, lions, and tigers) that are competing for territory don’t bury their feces, sending a message that they are declaring that spot at theirs. A domesticated cat may choose not to bury their poop to let other cats—or their owner—know “I am here.” Even if a cat has lived in the same place for a while, he may not feel it is his territory. The smell of their poop shows that particular cat’s presence.
Cats that choose not to cover, or leave a deposit outside the box, may simply be doing what comes naturally. Although burying feces is generally a modeled behavior from the mother cat, some cats actually never learn to do this.In fact, one study followed female pet cats out and about, and observed them poop 58 times—and only twice did the cats try to dig a hole first, or cover it afterward. Roaming kitties may use unburied waste as another form of marking.
Litter Box Issues
When it comes to litter boxes, size does matter. Maybe your cat’s litter box is too small for her to turn around inside the box to bury her poop. And, as the saying goes, cats can be finicky—perhaps she doesn’t like the feel of the cat litter, or the box is too dirty, and would rather not spend any extra time in there. If you suspect one or both of these things could be true, give a new brand of litter a try, or upgrade to a larger litter box.
1. Teach Your Cat to Bury
If your cat has never buried her poop, it might be because she never learned from mamma kitty.
3. Reduce Stress
Sometimes stress can cause cats to leave their poop uncovered. In the wild, cats may cover their poop to hide their scent so predators don’t know they’re around.If you’ve got a stressed-out kitty, reducing stress can help her feel more confident about covering her poop. Try a calming diffuser. These release a drug-free, odorless vapor that mimics the pheromones a cat uses to indicate an area is safe. You could also try a calming collar, which releases those same vapors wherever your cat goes.Setting up cat trees so your cats aren’t all stuck on the floor together can help. Playing with your cat to expend some of that nervous energy can help too.