If you’ve got a kitty at home who likes to bury her poop, you might often be confused as to why she’s behaving that way.
There are a lot of things that cats do that can leave their owners questioning it. After all, cats and humans are actually extremely different in many ways. So, when you watch your cat take a dump and then cover it up, you often do have questions.
In this blog post, I will answer the question, “Why do cats bury their poop?” in as much detail as I possibly can.
While dogs bury bones, cats bury poop.
The thing is that hiding their waste is actually a natural feline instinct--- it's not just because cats are obsessed with cleanliness.
Did you know that this act of obsessively burying their waste stems from cats' long history of using urine and feces to mark their territory?
It is true that cat poop may all smell the same to us, however, cats can tell their waste apart from others. This is all due to some unique chemical scent markers known as pheromones that are present in the cat’s urine and feces.
In the wild, dominant cats---and this even includes those of the Panthera genus like as lions, tigers , leopards, and even jaguars---that compete for territory do not often bury their excrement. This is done in order to signal that they want to claim a particular area. Weaker, smaller or more submissive wild cats bury their feces to ensure that the dominant cats don’t feel challenged.
That’s not all, though.
Wild cats also hide their poo in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention from predators to themselves or their nest of kittens .
Domesticated indoor cats, too, harbor the same strong, self-protecting instincts. Even though there are no predators in your home, your cat may not be so sure, and will bury its waste just in case. Your cat's careful burying habits are also Fluffy's way of saying that she recognizes you as the dominant "cat" of the house.
According to ethologist and zoologist Desmond Morris:
"In an undisturbed home, all domestic cats see themselves as subordinates of their human owners, so under normal circumstances, all domestic cats use litter trays or bury their feces in the garden,"
Did you know that one reasons why your cat might choose not to use the litter box may be that they consider themselves to be dominant over you!?
This is not always the case, however, as this seemingly rebellious behavior can also be caused by an illness, urinary tract infection, stomach problems or simply a lack of training in how to properly use a litter box.
A cat's natural burying instinct is reinforced by watching their mothers perform the task, so some kittens may need to be taught how to use a litter box.
Cats aren't the only ones who bury their waste to throw off predators and settle territory disputes armadillos, woodchucks, minks and some other weasels are also known to cover their excrement.
As we mentioned earlier in the blog, there are some reasons why cats don’t bury their poop. In this section, we will go through some of the common reasons why kitties don’t do that.
Your kitty’s litter box may be too small for her to physically turn around inside the box to bury her poop.
Maybe 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.
Cats that choose to leave a deposit outside the box may simply be doing what comes naturally. If they never watched their parent in the litter box, they may not know what to do.
In fact, one study observed cats poop 58 times—and only twice did the cats try to dig a hole first, or cover it afterward.
If your cat is experiencing some kind of pain, it could deter them from spending more time in the litter box. Also, cats who have been declawed recently could choose to skip it.
Humans have encouraged the behavior in our pet cats, by selectively choosing (and breeding) the ones that are “clean.” Cats that leave their excrement uncovered for the world to admire are not abnormal.
Bury or to not bury…
It all honestly depends on the cat’s temperament and whether or not they’ve learnt to bury their waste from their mums. Domestic cats often do what they wish to when it comes to burying their poop. In some cases, they might just do it sometimes and forget about it the next.
It’s all okay.
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