Why Does My Cat Not Bury His Poop
There are a few reasons one of your cats might be particularly bad at burying their poop.
Sadly, one of the main reasons house cats fail to bury their poop is that they were separated from their mothers a little too early, before poop burying and other adult-cat habits can be taught to them. These cats may or may not struggle with other feline behaviors like bathing themselves.
Another common reason cats might not bury their poop is because they are fighting for territory with another cat.
This is also why cats might refuse to bury their poop when they are mad at you; theyre trying to assert ownership over a part of your shared space.
If you have several cats, you might also have a dominant cat that routinely doesnt bury their poop; its a way of establishing and maintaining their place at the top of your cats hierarchy.
A Quick History Lesson About Cats
Most people attribute digging and burying behavior to dogs, but these are also basic instincts in cats. The ancestor of todays domesticated feline was the desert wildcat. Wildcats avoided detection by predators by masking their scent and tracksand the smarter cats gravitated toward soft dirt or sand, since this granular consistency made it easier to bury any evidence of their presence. Thus, these cats survived and thrived, spreading from the Fertile Crescent of West Asia into North Africa, Europe, and finally North America.
If You Notice This Behavior A Lot You May Be Overfeeding Your Cat
If you see your cat burying food or covering her food bowl quite often, she may be trying to tell you something. Sure, sometimes cats gorge and dont know when to stop eating. But if your cat isnt cleaning her plate of wet or canned food, you may be giving her too much food at once. And if she tries to bury dry kibble, she may not return to eat until it is swapped for fresh food.
Veterinarians agree that you should feed your adult cat 1/4 cup of dry food twice a day, and approximately 1/4-1/2 can of canned food as a snack.;
An automatic cat feeder like the WiFi-enabled Feeder-Robot helps ensure that youre feeding your cat the right amount of food on time, every time. The Feeder-Robot works with any dry or semi-moist kibble.;
Its important to feed your cat wet food, as well. However, try feeding her a smaller amount at a time if you notice your cat burying food canned or otherwise!
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Why Do Our Pet Cats Bury Their Poop
If wild cat behavior is any indication, leaving poop uncovered is normal behavior for cats. So why do our house cats typically clean up after themselves?;
There are two possible reasons.;
- Some behaviorists think that house cats who cover their feces are doing so because they view their human companions as dominant, or because they feel dominated by other cats in the neighborhood or in their house. The coverers are like the small wild cats, or the mother cougars who cover their poop for their own protection.;
- Its believed we may have bred the tendency to bury poop into cats ourselves. We humans prefer clean cats and so we may have selectively bred those animals with a propensity for covering up.
Kittens Learn To Cover Their Poop On Their Own
Covering up their business is an instinct with which kittens are born, and they begin the ritual as soon as they are able. They dont learn it by watching their mothers because mother cats never poop near the nest.
Kittens start burying their own waste and will do so even when they are orphaned. Just show a young kitten a litter box and, chances are, hell finish it without a hitch and then be good enough to hide that litter.
Cats make great companions. They are warm and fuzzy, loving, engaging, and fun. And the fact is that they maintain such simple bathroom habits that help us to like them more.
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Why Do Cats Bury Their Feces
Cat ownership necessitates becoming familiar with a cats toilet behavior and, more importantly, with the unpleasant task of dealing with a litter box. Despite the nastiness of dealing with litter boxes, litter boxes are still the most viable solution for managing your domestic cats house training. They provide a convenient, cleanable means of allowing cats to defecate and urinate.;
Cats Not Covering Poop And Pee
Stray cats may not hide their feces if there is no suitable substrate with which to do this. Stray cats living in parking garages, malls, and warehousing districts may live on artificial surfaces all the time. In such instances, the cats will not bury their feces.
Failing to cover their feces can lead to disease spread amongst the local cat population, humans, and other animals. One of the most common diseases spread to humans by cat feces is toxoplasmosis.
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Biggest Cat On The Block
Many cat species have a history of burying their waste. But youll find that its just the smaller species of cats that do this. Big cats like tigers, lions, and cheetahs never bury their poop because theyre at the top of the food chain and completely dominant in their area. Smaller cats dont enjoy the same dominance. When they all roamed together, smaller cats didnt want to risk angering or challenging the bigger cats since they dont stand a chance in a fight. So, they buried their feces so that larger felines knew they were not a threat and offered no challenge.
What You Can Do To Get Your Cat To Cover Her Poop
Dr. Houpt admits that this isn’t the worst problem a cat owner can have, but there may be ways to combat it. Once you and your vet have ruled out any medical issues, such as tender paws or painful elimination, you can start by trying out different types of cat litter.
In the case of multiple-cat households, adding more litterboxes throughout your home might also help because it increases the number of territories. In fact, having more than one cat can actually be a benefit. Sometimes one cat will cover for another cat, says Dr. Houpt.
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They May Bury Their Poop To Prevent Disease
There are some theories that burying poop might also be an instinct that helps protect your cats health, as the instinct to drink from water sources far away from food sources to avoid contaminated water.
Poop contains pathogens, everything from viruses and bacteria to fungi and parasites. Plenty of those pathogens can pass from poop to a new cat host if theyre exposed.
Burying poop helps reduce the chance of exposure and helps dry out poop and urine and any potential pathogens in that waste.
Burying in dirt can also help introduce other bacteria that may out-compete the pathogens, further lowering the risk of future infections or spreading infections through a population.
Natural Predators Of Cats
Cats are predators, but they are not apex predators. They are small predators who are often preyed on by larger predators in either the cat family, dog family, large reptiles, or even large birds of prey. To avoid detection, stray cats sometimes wish to minimize their imprint on the environment. A cat that can become a ghost in its territory is a cat that will live a long life.
Raccoons will sometimes encounter and pick fights with cats.; Check out our article:
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A System Of Territory Marking
We mistake a lot of cat behaviors for territory marking. Licking, pawing, kneading, and rubbing are among some of the top everyday activities our feline friends act on that we may assume are affection and territorial. Those acts are both, as well as a communication system we can decode if we listen closely. However, for cats, burying poop is mostly territorial. Cats can tell their waste apart from other cats. Just like wild cats, they will bury their feces to keep from being discovered or followed. This is especially useful for cats who want to avoid bringing predators home to their kittens.
In the wild, dominant cats will not bury their poop as a sign of their ownership of the area. In our homes, cats bury their poops as a way to communicate that they understand we, their trusted guardians, are the alpha cats. In a situation where Fluffy doesnt use the litter box, it could be because they consider themselves to be dominant. Although, this should be out go-to explanation. Cats will also go without using the litter box if its dirty, they dont like the litter, or the box is difficult to access.
Why Doesnt 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.
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Cats Marking With Urine
Cats mark their territory through a variety of different means. Spraying urine to mark territory and communicate with other cats is entirely different from urinating for waste elimination purposes. When spraying urine for territorial marking purposes, cats do not cover the urine. Both male and female cats can exhibit spraying, and this is usually done against vertical surfaces.
Could Not Covering Poop Be A Behavioral Issue
Primarily, it is behavioral, says Dr. Houpt, who has specialized in animal behavior for more than 30 years. But there could be several reasons behind it.
Lax cat parenting may be one culprit. Dr. Bain says that some cats never learn as kittens to cover their waste.
Another reason: Certain cats will not cover their waste because they prefer to eliminate in their own territory, Dr. Houpt explains, noting that even an indoor cat who’s lived in the same place for a long period of time still may not feel as though the home is truly her territory. Some experts feel that a dominant cat will not cover,” Dr. Houpt says. “The smell lets other cats know Im here.
For some felines, the litterbox itself can be an issue. It could be the ‘wrong’ kind of litter for that cat, or it may be too dirty, says Dr. Bain. “It may even be that the litterbox is too small for the cat to adequately turn around inside.
Dr. Houpt adds that a dislike for a certain type of litter can often lead to avoiding the box entirely. A cat who doesnt like the litter will often not dig before it eliminates, and she’s more likely to be a house-soiling cat, Dr. Houpt says. She doesnt like the feel of litter and prefers the feel of the rug.
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Teach Your Cat To Bury
If your cat has never buried her poop, it might be because she never learned from mamma kitty.1;Try sitting with her while she uses the litter box and then gently use her paws to cover the litter when she’s done. Give her treats when she does cover it. You can also use clicker training to “capture” the right movements and slowly encourage her over time.2
Cat Not Covering Poop
If your cat doesnt cover poop either on a regular basis or for the moment, one of the reasons could be the one that we have just mentioned. However, there are other causes of this behavior.;
There could be a number of litter box problems in your household. For example, you might not clean the litter box and replace the litter often enough for your cat to feel comfortable.
If a cat wont cover poop, it could also mean that he or she is suffering from an illness and experiencing some type of pain. Its widely known that cats hide illness very well, which can complicate medical problems even more since this behavior doesnt tell you that its time to take your pet to the vets office.;
In my experience, most cats that are experiencing urinary tract health problems will poop outside the litter box sometimes, right next to it. If you see your feline companion doing this and your cat doesnt seem to be perfectly healthy, go to the vet clinic as soon as possible.
If this was just an occurrence, but your cat developed the habit of pooping in your bed or somewhere else, you might have to do your best to deter it.
Your pet has effectively marked that territory as being the bathroom, so you need to clean and disinfect it as best as possible and even use a pet-safe perfume or essential oil to deter your cat.;;
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The History Of Burying Poop
Burying poop is a natural feline instinct, that originates from cats long history of marking their territory with feces. Did you know that cats can communicate with each other through their poop?
Each cats unique feces have scent markers that identifies them to other cats. Lions, tigers, and other dominant cats do not cover their feces, because leaving it uncovered marks their territory.
For this reason, other smaller cats bury their poop so they do not attract predators. You may be wondering, when does this behavior all start?
Commonly, a cat learns this burying trait by watching their mothers perform this task, but some kittens never learn it and may need a little more guidance.
Some other animals like minks, woodchucks, and armadillos also bury their waste to throw off predators from tracking them down.
Could Not Covering Poop Be A Medical Problem
Although Dr. Bain says that there’s no specific medical reason why a cat would not cover her waste, she stresses that any medical condition that could cause pain or pain associated with the litterbox, such as a urinary tract condition, could cause a cat to not want to spend time in the litterbox.
Dr. Katherine Houpt, a certified applied animal behaviorist at Animal Behavior Consultants of Northern Michigan, agrees with Dr. Bain, adding that cats who have recently been or who have a painful paw infection could be averse to scratching and covering their waste.
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Territoriality And Submission To Dominant Cats
Cats can differentiate their waste from another’s even though cat poop may smell the same to us. Like most cats, our felines have a long history of marking their territories with urine and feces. Large wild cats such as tigers, lions, leopards, etc. are generally more dominant and therefore, do not bury their feces if they intend to lay claim to a particular area.
Smaller and weaker cats, such as our pets, bury their feces to show submission to the dominant cats in the pack, so they do not feel threatened. So, uncovered feces indicate that the territory is taken.
Cats Might Not Have Learned The Behavior From Their Mamas
Kittens that are separated from their mothers too soon, either by well-meaning cat parents giving away the kittens too soon or by a fatal accident in the wild, did not learn how to bury their poop.
Mother cats teach their kittens everything there is to know about cat life, including covering up their fecal matter.
If you want your cat to learn how to bury their poop, there are ways to teach them how to do it.
Just because your cat doesnt know how to bury their poop, it doesnt mean it cant be trained to do so. It takes patience and a firm and gentle hand to help your kitty learn this behavior. And because your cat wants to please you, it will try to get the message you are trying to teach.
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Do Wild Cats Cover Their Poop
Lions, tigers, leopards, and other large wild cats are unlikely to cover their feces. These large cats are apex predators and do not need to hide the evidence of their presence in a specific territory.; In some social situations, a weak or sick individual may cover their feces and urine as a means of escaping detection.
Smaller wild cats will cover their feces to avoid detection by larger predators. All cats, large and small, will cover their feces if they have a litter of kittens hidden away in a den. The mother cat will try to keep the den and kittens hidden.