Fun, Lifestyle, and Behavior

Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop?

Covering poop is perfectly natural for cats, and they do it for a number of reasons. Wild cats have to be on the lookout for predators or even other cats, who might pose problems to them in terms of their territorial behavior. 

Therefore, cats are predisposed to this behavior genetically. But there’s more to know on this topic, so keep on reading if you want to learn as much about your cat’s pooping behavior as possible. 

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Dominant cats vs. submissive cats

Not all cats cover their poop. 

Even though most of them do, the fact is that dominant ones, such as the wild ones from the Panthera genus (lions, jaguars, and tigers) will more often than not leave their poop on the surface of the ground so as to tell the other big cats that are in the area that they are the dominant ones. 

On the other hand, a submissive cat will bury her feces to avoid challenging the dominant one and prevent a fight, which could just as well result in the animal losing her life. 

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Cats that have recently given birth will cover their poop so as to protect their nest. So, even if you don’t have two cats in your household, a mother cat will always bury her poop as it’s a very strong instinct. 

Since any respectable cat guardian takes some time to do a bit of research about their feline friends, you might have learned by now that cats see us, humans, as bigger and dominant cats. 

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So, if your cat recognizes you as the dominant one, he or she will always bury poop rather than pooping in unusual places so as to show you that you’re seen as the submissive one.  

Cat not covering poop

If your cat doesn’t 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.

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If a cat won’t cover poop, it could also mean that he or she is suffering from an illness and experiencing some type of pain. It’s widely known that cats hide illness very well, which can complicate medical problems even more since this behavior doesn’t tell you that it’s time to take your pet to the vet’s 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 doesn’t seem to be perfectly healthy, go to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

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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 (of course, using pet-friendly cleaners) as best as possible and even use a pet-safe perfume or essential oil to deter your cat.  

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How often should a cat poop?

Cats are carnivores, which means that they have different digestion compared to herbivores and even omnivores. This means that, while a person can go do their ‘number 2’ several times in a day, especially if they have healthy digestion, the same rule does not apply to cats. 

A healthy cat should poop once a day. Twice a day is acceptable, too, but only if the feces maintain their hard consistency, have a normal smell, and the color isn’t modified in any way. 

Anything more than twice a day is a little alarming, especially if the poop is runny, smells bad, and your cat is showing other symptoms, such as fever, lethargy, and a low level of activity overall. 

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Why does my cat poop on the floor?

In this case, too, the cat might have marked that specific spot in the past, making him or her want to poop in the same place time and again. Or if that part of the floor is right next to the litter box, there could be a health problem involved. 

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How to get rid of cat poop smell

Here are some tips for minimizing cat poop smell:

  1. Make sure you scoop the litter box every day
  2. Get a closed-design litter box (it contains the smell better)
  3. Use a high-absorbing litter 
  4. Replace the litter box at least once a year
  5. Ventilate 
  6. Clean your floors (if they’ve been pooped on) with pet-friendly cleaning solutions or a mix of vinegar and baking soda — the cat is not going to want to go anywhere near that area
  7. Make sure you feed your cat a good-quality diet — those that have grains, corn, and a variety of additives will create a digestive imbalance and cause a much stronger poop smell 
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Cristina is a licensed veterinarian who has been a cat owner since she was 12. She is passionate about giving useful advice to pet owners across the world. Her favorite topics range from pathology and novel therapies to infectious diseases and animal welfare. Her work has been featured in many online publications from The Pet Friendly House to Alpha Paw, Animal Wellness Magazine, and

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