Why Cats Don’t Always Cover Their Poop

by beaconpet
Why Cats Don't Always Cover Their Poop

Have you ever wondered why your cat doesn’t always cover their poop? Explore this topic with BeaconPet right now!

While burying feces is a natural behavior for wild cats, domesticated cats may choose not to cover their waste for various reasons. One possibility is that they are declaring their territory, much like dominant wild cats do. Another reason could be that your cat is simply following their natural instincts, as some cats never learn to bury their waste. There may also be other factors at play, such as litter box issues or even medical problems. So, if your cat is leaving their poop uncovered, there may be more to it than meets the eye. 

Why Cats Don’t Always Cover Their Poop

Why Cats Don't Always Cover Their Poop


Cats are known for their cleanliness and meticulous grooming habits. So, it may come as a surprise when your feline friend decides not to cover their poop in the litter box. You may wonder why they’re deviating from their usual behavior and what it could mean. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why cats don’t always cover their poop and delve into the various factors that may contribute to this seemingly uncharacteristic behavior.

Pleasing Humans

Encouraged Behavior

Believe it or not, cats initially learned to cover their poop to please their human companions. Through selective breeding, humans have favored cats that exhibit clean behavior, which includes covering their waste. Cats that successfully buried their poop were more likely to be chosen as pets and, as a result, passed on this behavior to future generations. So, covering their poop is a behavior that was originally driven by humans.

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Changes in Behavior

It’s important to consider possible changes in your cat’s environment or routine if they suddenly stop covering their poop. Cats are sensitive creatures, and even small alterations in their surroundings can have an impact on their behavior. Has there been a recent addition to your household, such as a new cat or a stray hanging around outside the window? Your cat may be leaving their waste uncovered as a way to communicate their presence and territorial claim to these other cats. If there have been any changes in your cat’s behavior, it may be helpful to assess what else has changed in their environment.

Declaring Territory

Why Cats Dont Always Cover Their Poop: Declaring Territory

Wild Cats’ Behavior

In the wild, dominant cats use their poop to declare their territory. By leaving their feces uncovered, these cats are sending a message to other cats that they are claiming a particular spot as their own. This behavior is commonly seen in big cats like jaguars, leopards, lions, and tigers. Domesticated cats may exhibit similar behavior, choosing not to bury their poop as a way of asserting their presence and marking their territory.

Domesticated Cats’ Behavior

Even if a domesticated cat has lived in the same place for a while, they may not feel a strong sense of ownership over their territory. In such cases, the smell of their poop serves as a way of establishing their presence and reminding other cats—or even their human owner—that they are there. So, when a domesticated cat chooses not to bury their poop, they may simply be following their natural inclinations to mark their territory.

Natural Inclinations

Modeled Behavior

Burying feces is typically a learned behavior that cats adopt from observing their mother. However, not all cats learn this behavior from their mother, and some may never develop the habit of covering their poop. A study observing female cats found that out of 58 instances of defecation, only two cats attempted to dig a hole or cover their waste afterward. This suggests that burying feces is not an inherent behavior for all cats and that natural inclinations may vary from cat to cat.

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Roaming Cats

For cats that roam outside, leaving their waste uncovered can serve as another form of marking. The strong smell of their poop can act as a territorial boundary, informing other cats in the area that this territory is claimed. So, if your cat prefers not to cover their poop, it could be their way of communicating their presence to other felines.

Form of Marking

Cats use various methods to mark their territory, and leaving their waste uncovered is just one of them. Scent marking through urine spraying, scratching, and rubbing is also common behavior in cats. So, if your cat doesn’t cover their poop, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. They may be expressing their territorial instincts in a slightly different way.

Litter Box Issues

Why Cats Don't Always Cover Their Poop: Litter Box Issues

Size of Litter Box

When it comes to litter boxes, size matters. If your cat’s litter box is too small, they may find it difficult to turn around inside and bury their waste effectively. This can result in uncovered poop. To ensure your cat can comfortably perform their bathroom duties, consider providing a litter box that is spacious enough for them to move around without any discomfort.

Preference for Cat Litter

Cats can be finicky about the type of litter they use. The texture, scent, and feel of the litter can influence their litter box habits. If your cat doesn’t like the texture of the litter or finds its scent unpleasant, they may choose not to cover their waste. Experiment with different brands or types of litter to find one that your cat prefers, as this may encourage them to cover their poop.

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Cleanliness of Litter Box

Maintaining a clean litter box is crucial to encourage appropriate bathroom behavior in cats. If the litter box is dirty or has a buildup of waste, your cat may be reluctant to spend any extra time in there. Keeping the litter box clean and scooping it regularly can help ensure that your cat feels comfortable and motivated to cover their poop.

Medical Issues

Possible Pain or Discomfort

If your cat is experiencing pain or discomfort, it may deter them from spending more time in the litter box. This can result in uncovered poop. Pain can occur in various areas such as their paws, while going to the bathroom, or in general. If you suspect that your cat may be in pain, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

Declawed Cats

Cats that have recently been declawed may choose to skip the burying process altogether. Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves removing the claws, and it can cause pain and discomfort for the cat. This may lead to changes in their behavior, including not covering their waste. If you have a declawed cat that exhibits this behavior, it’s essential to provide them with appropriate litter box options and consult with your veterinarian for any necessary pain management.


While it may be surprising to see your cat not covering their poop, there are various reasons why this behavior occurs. Cats may choose not to cover their waste to please humans, assert their territory, follow their natural inclinations, or due to litter box issues or medical problems. It’s essential to observe your cat’s behavior, assess any changes in their environment, and ensure they have a comfortable and clean litter box setup. If you have any concerns or notice persistent changes in your cat’s bathroom behavior, don’t hesitate to consult with your veterinarian for guidance and support. Remember, each cat is unique, and understanding their individual preferences and needs can help foster a healthy and harmonious relationship.

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