Why Do Cats Bury Their Waste? Finally Answered

Cats are so unique that they have specific behaviors that are logical only to them. Read on to discover why cats bury their waste, and why they are such clean animals.

Animals often demonstrate behavior that may be strange to humans, but completely normal to them.

For example, dogs love to dig and bury bones, and cats love to observe the world from the height and jump. When it comes to burying, cats are more original than dogs.

Dogs bury bones, while cats bury poop.

Feline owners know that cats may occasionally demonstrate strange behavior, make strange sounds, or simply follow them around, or rub all day against their owners. However, many aren’t familiar with the practice of cats burying their poop.

Let’s finally learn why cats must bury their waste.

Why Do Cats Bury Their Waste?

Cats are simple beings who love living by their own rules. They follow their instincts and act accordingly. Therefore, hiding waster is a natural feline instinct, and it’s not just because cats are obsessed with cleanliness.

The act of burying their waster stems from cats’ long history of using urine and feces to mark their territory.

Cat poop smells the same, but cats can tell their waste apart from other others. How can they do so? Thanks to unique chemical scent markers called pheromones, which are present in their urine and feces, cats can tell the difference between various waste.

In the wild, dominant cats, including those of the Panthera genus, such as lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars that are competing for territory often do not bury their excrement as a way of signaling that they want to claim a particular area.

More submissive or weaker cats will always bury their feces to ensure that dominant cats do not feel challenged.

Wild cats will also hide their waste to avoid attracting unwanted attention from various predators. Domesticated indoor cats (Felis catus) share the same strong, self-protecting instincts.

Your cat may not be the predator in your home, but she will bury its waste just in case. Here are the most common reasons why cats love to bury their waste.

1. Cats Like To Be Clean

It’s well-known that cats are clean animals. They can spend hours merely grooming themself. They also love to have a clean environment, which is why it’s important to keep their litter box and feeding bowls as clean as possible.

However, if your cat is over-grooming herself, she might be dealing with an underlying medical issue or anxiety issue, and you should take her to the vet.

2. They’re Hiding From Predators Or Dominant Cats

As mentioned before, cats use their urine and feces to mark their territory. Large cat species such as tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards mostly don’t bury their poop.

They use their excrement to mark their territory. However, smaller cats tend to burry their excrement to not attract attention to predators or dominant cats, especially close to their sleeping area.

In feral cat colonies, dominant cats will always leave their poop unburies to show their dominance, while other cats will bury their feces so as not to threaten the dominant cats in the colony.

3. Pleasing Humans

Poop bury is encouraged by people throughout history. Even for breeding, people mostly used cats that are ‘clean.’ Cats that leave their poop at the open, uncovered aren’t unusual, they are just cats.

If your cat always has dug-and-covered as normal litter box behavior and suddenly started acting differently asked yourself what has changed.

This new practice may be a sign that your cat isn’t happy that she goes through anxiety and stress, or that there is an underlying medical issue. In some cases, this just can be a smelly signal to other cats that the territory is owned.

4. Natural Inclinations

No matter what you do, some cats will simply decide not to cover their deposit. They will always leave a deposit outside the box, and to them, it comes as something natural.

Burying feces is a modeled behavior from the mother cat, but some cats never learn to do this. Actually, a study carefully observed 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.

Regarding kittens, they may use unburied waste as another form of marking.

5. Litter Box Issues

Cats are serious when it comes to their litter boxes. First of all, the size of litter box matters. Secondly, make sure that you clean the litter box as soon as your cat does her business or at least two times per day. For cats, litter boxes are essential, and they should be clean and spacious.

Cat’s litter box should be too big for her to turn around inside the box to bury her poop. If she refuses to use the litter box, the box may be too dirty, she doesn’t like new litter, or the size is wrong. Luckily, for this situation, solutions are easy:

  • Clean litter box regularly
  • Stick to cat’s litter type
  • Upgrade a larger litter box

Like with any other pet, it’s important to know the cat’s routine and habits. If you notice your cat acting strange or different, she might be going through some kind of pain.

Cats who went through the poor practice of declawing may choose to skip the burying process.

For cats, their claws are like human fingertips, and without nails, they suffer and go through massive pain, which eventually destroys their entire health system.

6. They See You As Being Dominant

Once you learn about the cat’s physiology, their behavior doesn’t come as odd. For example, if your cat does bury her poop in the litter box, she acknowledges that you are a dominant animal in the home.

Therefore, she won’t do anything to risk upsetting you. On the other hand, if a cat always leaves her poop uncovered, she may not see you as dominant. As it comes to the animal world, this can be a clear sign that she is the boss.

This can be a real practice in cats that were not shown how to bury their feces by their mother. So, if you think about adopting a kitten or an adult cat, take litter business seriously. Can you get your cat to cover her poop?

Tips To Get Your Cats To Cover Their Poop

If your cat is an indoor cat and refuses to cover her poop, it can be frustrating, especially in the winter. Simply said, it can really be super smelly. It’s important here to note that your cat isn’t doing this to be mean.

She is doing it for some reason, and she is trying to tell you something. It’s up to you to encourage your cat to cover her poop. Here is how you can do it.

  • Teach your cat to bury: if your cat has never buried her poop, it might be because she never learned to do from her mom. Be next to her while she uses the litter box and gently use her paws to cover the litters when she’s done. When she covers it, give her treats. You can also use clicker training to capture the right movements.
  • Add more litter boxes: maybe the litter box is set in the wrong location. Maybe she doesn’t like the spot. Or maybe you don’t have enough boxes if you have a multicat household. Each cat should have a separate litter box. Always provide one litter box per cat.
  • Reduce stress: cats often for under stress, without owners realizing so. Stress can affect cats to change their routine and use unusual methods to tell people that something bothers them. Different factors may trigger your cat into going from peaceful to stressful situations. Always have a calming diffuser on hand. They are a great option because they are drug-free. You can slow try a calming collar. Cat trees around the home could be a great way to keep your cat happy and well-behaved in one spot. Since cats are highly territorial beings, they should have a place of their own.
  • Test different types of litter: cats may choose to refuse litter for various reasons. Your cat may dislike the smell or feel of the litter. Remember: you are buying litter for your cat, not you. So, what may smell nice and wonderful to you, maybe heavily disturbing for your cat? If you have a long-haired cat, she might get litter granules caught in the fur that sticks out from their paws.
  • Test litter boxes of different size: a larger box could easily help, because cats need enough space to when doing their business. They should have enough space to turn around. Try a low-sided box, especially if you have a senior cat. Cats with hip dysplasia might feel pain every time they try to step into the litter box. Pain can cause them to leave the box fast, or they might start pooping outside the box. If you choose a low-sided box, your cat might warm up to the litter box over time.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian. If you notice nay changed in your cat’s behavior, visit your veterinarian.

She might have a health issue, and a checkup would be to make sure she’s okay.

The Bottom Line

Remember: if your cat doesn’t cover her poop, she isn’t mean, she is trying to tell you something, and you should figure out what it is.

Go easy on your little fur friend and try some of these solutions to see if they help. Your feline will be more than grateful for your help and patience.

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