why do some cats not cover their poop
Covering poop is a normal behavior,áright? 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. 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, it is a very natural cat behavior. So why is your cat not doing it? Humans have encouraged the behavior in our pet cats, by selectively choosing (and breeding) the ones that are Áclean. Á Cats that leave their excrement uncovered for the world to admire are not abnormalÁtheyÁre just being cats. If your kitty has always dug-and-covered as normalá áand suddenly makes a statement with uncovered poop, ask yourself what else has changed? This may be the catÁs 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. So a domesticated cat may choose not to bury their poop to let other catsÁor their ownerÁknow I am here. Even if a cat has lived in the same place for a while, he may not feel it is his territory. áThe smell of their poop shows that particular cat s presence. Cats that choose not to cover, orá, may simply be doing what comes naturally. áAlthough burying feces is generally a modeled behavior from mamma cat, some cats actually never learn to do this. If they never watched their parent in the litter box, they may not know what to do.
In fact, one studyáfollowed female pet cats out and about, andáobserved them poop 58 timesÁand 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. When it comes to litter boxes, size does matter. Maybe your cat s litter box is too small for her to physically turn around inside the box to bury her poop. And, as the saying goes, cats can be finickyÁperhaps 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 sized litter box. á
There aren t any specific diagnoses that would cause your cat to not bury their poop, but if your cat is experiencing some kind of painÁwhether in their paws, while going to the bathroom, or just in generalÁthat could deter them from spending more time in the litter box. Also, cats who have been declawed recently could choose to skip the burying process. We all know cats love to keep themselves clean. Cats are also fond of keeping their surroundings tidy, but the preference for a pristine habitat isnât just due to their desire for cleanliness. Cats cover their poop because they are hard-wired to do so. This behavior is part of their â to protect themselves from predators and to mark their territoryÂ â not just the desire to be clean. Wild big cats belonging to the Panthera genus âÂ tigers, lions, jaguars and leopards âÂ will choose not to bury their waste when competing for territory. This form of marking lets other cats know that the cat is staking a claim for a certain area. The big cats might bury their scat when they want to avoid any undesired attention from predators to themselves.
Protecting the location of young cubs or kittens is one of the reasons a big cat would cover her tracks. Smaller wild cats, especially those that share a territory with one of the bigger cats, will bury their feces to avoid attracting attention from the bigger cats. The big cats are predators for the smaller wild cat, so this burying of waste lets the dominant cat know the smaller cat is not challenging her claim to the territory. The smaller wild cats want to keep the peace and avoid conflict. Cats know conflict can lead to injury and injury can lead to their being at risk of becoming prey. Our house cats have the same instinct to protect themselves from predators. Your cat, most likely, is free from the threat of a wild big cat lurking around your home, but herÂ instinct is still to cover herÂ tracks. Your cat might consider you the dominant cat in the house and this covering of her poop is telling you she is not challenging your claim to the home. If you live in a multicat household, you might find that some of your cats cover their poop and some do not. In our house, Eddie and Mercy cover their poop but Annie does not every time. When we were a one-cat household it was much easier to check on the output than it is in a three-cat home. The cats, of course, know which pile belongs to which cat because of the unique pheromones present in the urine and feces. I know it is Annie whoÂ does not bury her poop, because I sometimes stalk the box checking to see if everything is coming out all right. We humans must resort to spying because our noses are not up to the task of differentiating one catâs waste from another. When we shared our home with Gracey as an only cat, she did not bury her poop. I think Gracey thought of us as equals and not as subordinate to Paul or me.
Annie, on the other hand, may think she is the dominant cat in the house and she certainly rules over Mercy and Eddie. With three cats in the house, we maintain four so each cat can slink off to do their business in privacy. The two boys seem to have more skirmishes with each other than Annie does with either male cat, so it is important for us to make sure that the more timid Eddie has access to a litter box where he will not feel threatened or at risk while eliminating. With one more box than cat, there is always an open place for each cat to use. Reasons A CatÂ Stops Burying Poop If your cat was covering her poop and then stops, it could be that she is now feeling more at home and secure, or it could be that she has begun to have difficulty eliminating, perhaps caused by a urinary tract infection or other ailment. If your kitty associates the litter box with a painful experience, she will not want to spend any time in the box. This can lead to her soiling outside of the litter box, too. This is why it is important to stalk the box to make sure everything is OKÂ with your cat. Once a health issue is ruled out, you might experiment with different types of litter. Cats have different preferences in shape, material and scent. If one of these factors is a turnoff for your cat, she may choose to eliminate and scram without covering her tracks, or she may decide to go elsewhere in the home. Kittens whoÂ were separated from their mother too early before they were able to observe momâs behavior covering her poop might not be as diligent at burying their feces. In a multicat household, one of your cats might cover the other catsâ poop in the process of covering herÂ own. As long as it is not a health issue and your cat is not eliminating outside the box, this lack of covering isnât a cause for concern.
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