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Uncovering the Reasons Behind Cats Burying their Poop

Cats are fascinating creatures, and one of their curious behaviors is burying poop. It’s been observed in both wild and domesticated cats.

But why do they do it? While the reasons may differ for wild and domesticated cats, there are some common themes.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why cats bury their poop. Whether you’re a seasoned cat owner or someone who’s considering getting a feline companion, understanding this behavior will help you better care for your furry friend.

Reasons for Cats to Bury Poop:

Wild Cat Behavior:

Wild cats bury their poop for some practical reasons. They live in an environment where predators are a constant threat, and leaving their feces out in the open could attract unwanted attention.

Burying the poop helps hide their scent from potential predators, making them less vulnerable to attack. Additionally, dominant wild cats may bury their poop to assert their dominance over other cats in the area.

Domesticated Cat Behavior:

Domesticated cats have inherited some of the instincts of their wild ancestors, including the behavior of burying their poop. However, there are some additional reasons why domesticated cats do this.

Pleasing Humans:

One reason that domesticated cats bury their poop is to please their human caretakers. Cats are notorious for being clean creatures, and many pet owners find it unpleasant to see or smell cat poop lying around.

By burying their poop in the litter box, cats are keeping the environment clean and tidy for their owners. Declaring Territory:

Cats are territorial animals, and one way they display their dominance is by marking their territory.

Burying their poop is one way of marking their territory and sending a message to other cats that this is their space. It’s like saying, “I was here, and this is mine.”

Natural Inclinations:

Cats have a natural inclination to bury their waste.

They are fastidious in their grooming habits and prefer to keep their environment clean. This is why they often prefer to use a litter box instead of going outside.

Burying their poop is simply a part of this natural behavior. Litter Box Issues:

Sometimes cats may bury their poop excessively if they are having issues with their litter box.

If the box is not clean enough, they may bury their poop to try to cover up the smell. Alternatively, if the litter box is too small or uncomfortable, they may bury their poop excessively to try to make the best of the situation.

Medical Issues:

Finally, burying poop excessively can also be a sign of medical issues in cats. If your cat suddenly starts burying their poop excessively or avoiding the litter box, it’s worth a trip to the vet to rule out any health issues.

Cats can develop urinary tract infections or other conditions that can make going to the bathroom painful or uncomfortable. Selective Breeding:

It’s worth mentioning that some cats have been selectively bred to have a stronger instinct to bury their poop.

For example, the Siamese breed is known for having an excellent sense of smell, which helps them locate their litter box. They have also been bred to be fastidious in their grooming habits, which likely contributes to their burying behavior.

Uncovered Poop as a Signal:

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that cats may occasionally leave their poop uncovered as a signal to their owners. For example, if your cat is using the litter box excessively or avoiding it altogether, leaving their poop uncovered may be a sign that they need a bigger or more comfortable litter box.

Similarly, if they’re feeling ill, they may leave their poop uncovered to signal that something is wrong. Conclusion:

Understanding why cats bury their poop can tell you a lot about their behavior and instincts.

Whether you have a wild or domesticated cat, this behavior is a natural and necessary part of their lives. By keeping their environment clean and comfortable, cats are better able to thrive and feel safe.

As a cat owner, it’s important to pay attention to your cat’s behavior and make sure they have everything they need to be happy and healthy. With proper care and understanding, you can enjoy a long and fulfilling relationship with your feline companion.

Declaring Territory:

As mentioned earlier, one reason why cats bury their poop is to declare their territory. This behavior is particularly evident in wild cats, where they compete for food and space.

Dominant cats may mark an area with their scent as a way of repelling other cats. By burying their poop, they are effectively marking their territory and sending a message to others that this is their space.

In domesticated cats, marking behavior can also occur, especially if they are in an unfamiliar environment. When cats find themselves in a new territory, they may feel the need to mark their space by leaving their scent everywhere.

Marking behavior can include scratching furniture, rubbing against walls, and leaving urine and feces in strategic areas. By doing this, they are letting other cats know that they have claimed that space.

Natural Inclinations:

Another reason why cats bury their poop is due to their natural inclinations. This behavior can be both learned and instinctual.

Learned Behavior:

A kitten’s mother often models the behavior of burying their waste. Kittens watch their mother bury her poop and follow her lead.

Through this modeling, kittens learn how to use the litter box and the behavior of burying their poop. Instinctual Behavior:

Cats also have an instinctual behavior of burying their waste.

This is prevalent in roaming kitties and feral cats that have not been exposed to litter boxes. Instinctually, cats bury their poop to eliminate their scent as a way of avoiding predators.

When in the wild, predators can use the smell of an animal’s feces to track and hunt them. As such, burying their waste is a survival tactic for wild cats.

In domesticated cats, the instinctual behavior of burying their waste is still present. Even when pleasantly cared for, cats still have a strong urge to bury their poop.

This is why it’s essential to provide cats with a clean litter box and a space they feel comfortable in. Caring For Your Cat:

Understanding why cats bury their poop can help you provide a comfortable and safe environment for your furry friend.

To ensure that your cat is happy and healthy, it’s essential to create an environment that caters to their natural instincts and needs. Provide a Clean Litter Box:

Cats have a strong aversion to dirty litter boxes and may choose to relieve themselves outside the box if it’s too dirty.

You should schedule daily litter box cleaning to keep the box clean and inviting for your cat. Also, consider the type of litter you use in the litter box.

Some cats may be sensitive to certain litters and prefer softer ones. Designate Proper Territories:

If you have multiple cats, it’s important to provide adequate space for each cat to establish their territory.

Consider providing multiple litter boxes so that each cat has their own space. Additionally, provide different elevated surfaces for cats to access to reduce tension and ensure they can stake their own claim in the home.

Pay Attention to Health Issues:

Excessive burying behavior or avoiding the litter box altogether may indicate health issues in cats. Make sure to schedule regular veterinary check-ups and keep an eye on your cat’s behavior to spot any issues early.


Cats burying their poop is something most pet owners have probably observed. While the behavior is associated with practical reasons in the wild, domesticated cats are also highly instinctive.

Moreover, understanding why cats bury their poop can help pet owners maintain excellent care for their felines. By providing adequately-sized litter boxes and clean litter, providing an appropriate living and resting space, and paying attention to any health issues, cats can be kept happy and healthy.

Litter Box Issues:

While cats burying their poop is a natural instinct, litter box issues can adversely affect a cat’s behavior and lifestyle. Some common litter box issues include; litter box size, litter preferences, and medical issues.

Litter Box Size:

Cats are creatures of comfort and space. If their litter box is too small, they may find it uncomfortable to turn around and do their business correctly.

However, there is no set litter box size for all cats. A litter box size that is perfect for one cat may be too small for another.

Therefore, when choosing a litter box, get one that accommodates your cat’s size. A good rule of thumb is to get a litter box that is 1.5 times the length of your cat’s body.

This ensures that your cat has enough space to move around and turn comfortably. Providing your cat with enough space helps to ensure they can relieve themselves comfortably, reducing litter box issues.

Litter Preferences:

Cats are sensitive creatures with unique preferences. A litter that a cat finds unpleasant may prompt them to avoid the litter box altogether.

Litter preference varies from cat to cat, so it’s essential to find the right fit for your feline. Some cats prefer scented litter, while others prefer unscented litter.

There are also cats that prefer a particular type of litter, such as clay litter or pellets. You may also need to consider the texture of the litter, as some cats may have sensitivities to certain textures.

Additionally, cats require clean litter, and a neglected litter box can deter cats from using it. As such, it’s essential to scoop out waste daily and clean the litter box regularly, as this will help ensure that your cat continues to use the litter box.

Medical Issues:

Cats burying their poop excessively or avoiding the litter box altogether can be an indication of an underlying medical issue. As the primary caretaker of your cat, it’s essential to know the potential medical issues that could cause litter box issues.

Pain Or Discomfort:

Cats use their paws to scratch and dig when burying their poop. If a cat experiences pain or discomfort in their paws, they may avoid using the litter box.

Additionally, a cat may associate the litter box with pain or discomfort after a painful episode, which can cause them to stop using the litter box. Such painful episodes may be due to joint pain, nail issues.

Moreover, declawed cats may avoid the litter box as the absence of claws may cause long-term discomfort. Consult A Veterinarian:

If you notice litter box issues or changes in your cat’s bathroom routine, schedule a veterinary check-up.

A veterinarian can diagnose any underlying medical issues that may be causing the litter box issues. Moreover, a veterinarian can offer advice on litter box care and maintenance, thus helping to prevent potential medical issues.


Cats burying their poop is a natural behavior that plays a significant role in their instincts, especially in the wild. Domesticated cats have inherited this instinct.

Nevertheless, litter box issues can adversely affect a cat’s behavior and lifestyle. Litter box size, litter preference, medical issues such as pain or discomfort, declawing, and infections are some factors that often contribute to litter box issues.

As such, it’s essential to provide your cat with adequate space, clean litter, and regular veterinary check-ups. By being attentive to your cat’s litter box needs and addressing any issues promptly, you can help your cat live a healthy, safe, and happy life.

In conclusion, understanding why cats bury their poop is an essential part of cat ownership. Burying poop is a natural and instinctive behavior, prevalent in both wild and domesticated cats.

Some of the common reasons why cats bury their poop include marking their territory, pleasing humans, natural inclinations, litter box issues, and medical issues. To ensure that your cat lives a happy, healthy, and comfortable life, it’s important to provide a clean litter box, proper litter, adequate space, and regular veterinary check-ups.

By taking care of your cat’s litter box needs and addressing any issues promptly, you can help your cat thrive and enjoy a fulfilling life.

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