Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop

A lot of people prefer to keep cats instead of dogs because the former don’t need to be taken outside to do their business. Have you put much thought into why cats bury their poop? Or why some may leave it uncovered? Should you be worried if your cats used to bury its poop but then stops?

Why Do Cats Not Cover Their Poop

There are a lot of things that cats do that leave us with more questions than answers. Luckily, burying their poop is one behavior that we have answers to. We’ll look at some of the reasons why cats bury their poop in as much detail as we possibly could. Here we go:

do feral cats bury their poop

1. It’s a way of covering their tracks

Cats bury their poop to avoid drawing the attention of predators to themselves especially when they poop close to where they sleep together with their kittens. If wild cats left their poop uncovered, it would be very easy for predators to track them down.

2. Submission – Cats see you as being dominant

Your cat probably sees you as the dominant animal in that house and doesn’t want to upset you.

If there are other dominant cats in that house, the submissive cat will bury its poop to ensure that the dominant one doesn’t feel threatened. Leaving the droppings uncovered would be taken as a signal that they want to claim the territory.

3. Pleasing humans

 A lot of domestic cats bury their poop as a way of pleasing their owners who encourage this behavior in one way or another. However, every once in a while you might notice that the cat leaves the poop uncovered. It’s highly likely that there’s a stray cat that’s been hanging around and your cat would like to send signals that the territory is already taken. So these changes in behavior shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.

4. Natural instincts

The act of cats burying their poop is a naturally acquired behavior that’s gotten from their mothers.

If you observe female cats around their kittens, you’ll notice that they dig the holes to poop into and then cover them later. Kittens pick up this habit at a very young stage of their life and carry it into adulthood.

This not only applies to cats but other species as well. If the youngsters watch their parents do something, the habit catches on.

5. Cats like to be clean

Generally speaking, cats like to keep a clean environment. As part of trying to keep their environment as clean as possible, the cats also groom themselves by licking their paws.

Why Do Some Cats Leave Their Poop Uncovered?

Not all cats bury their poop and that’s not anything to worry about. In this part of the article, we’ll look at why some cats leave their poop uncovered:

cat doesn't bury poop

1. Declaring their territory

Cats out in the wild especially lions, leopards, jaguars, and tigers are always competing for territories so they use their poop and urine as a way of marking their territories.  Leaving their poop uncovered sends the message that they’re declaring the spots as theirs.

With domesticated cats, leaving the poop uncovered is one way of the cat letting its owner know that “I am here.” This may happen even if the cat has been living in that house for a while. There’s something about the smell of it’s that tells of the cat’s presence. To humans, the smell of different cats’ droppings may be the same but to the cats, these smells are very distinct.

In a nutshell, dominant cats use their excrement as a way of marking the boundaries of their territories to let other cats know that this is where they live and hunt. If a cat leaves their poop uncovered in another cat’s territory it means that they want to challenge the ownership of that spot.

2. Medical issues

Usually, when your cat is in any kind of pain, it could prevent them from burying their poop. Any kind of pain in general or in specific areas like the claws could lead to this – especially for cats that have been recently declawed. Also, when the cat is experiencing pain when going to the bathroom, it could also make them skip covering their poop.

If you suspect that your cat is unwell or in any kind of pain, you should take it to the vet as soon as possible. Examination by a veterinarian will lead to correct diagnosis followed by proper treatment – do not make judgments based on your observation or assumptions.

Other common medical conditions that bring about changes in behavior include urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, or even arthritis. A trip to the vet will determine what is truly wrong with your pet.

3. The wrong litter box

When it comes to your cat’s litter box, size is very important. If it’s very small, the cat cannot turn around in it and, therefore, can’t bury its poop.

There’s also a possibility that the cat doesn’t like the feel of the litter box. Alternatively, the litter box is too dirty and the cat would rather not spend any time in it.

Get your cat a new litter box if any of the scenarios mentioned above are true. A large enough litter box allows the cat enough room to turn around and bury their poop.

4. Lack of guidance

Another high likelihood is the cat was not shown how to bury its poop as a kitten and when it grew up, it didn’t know what’s right to do and what’s not. It never occurs to these cats to bury their droppings so they just leave it lying around and apart from the stinking, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this.


Even though hiding poop is a natural instinct among cats, not all of them are obsessed with doing it. This habit is usually reinforced by watching their mothers do it so some kittens may not have learned how to do it.

All in all, the main factor affecting whether or not a cat buries its poop depends on if they learned to do it from their moms. Other times whether they do it or not is influenced by the factors we discussed above.

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