While looking at my three lazy furry beauties, it is hard for me to accept how fierce predators and scavengers cats actually are in nature. However, the question is whether they are aware of their size and feel vulnerable sometimes, especially in delicate situations while using a litter box.
Why do Cats Feel Vulnerable When They Poop?
Cats are fierce predators and scavengers, but also prey to bigger animals.
Cats feel vulnerable when they poop because they never lost their fear of becoming prey, even after centuries of domestication. Therefore, cats feel vulnerable in situations when they are unable to act immediately to avoid danger.
They may not poop if they are in an unfamiliar environment, if their litter or box has been changed, or if they are around unfamiliar humans or animals.
Cats are absolutely aware of their size compared to other animals in the surroundings, says a cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy. As a result, cats are highly cautious in moments when they are unable to react immediately to avoid danger. Surprisingly, the fear of becoming prey hasn't been lost even after centuries of domestication, and nothing can change that.
Therefore, you can expect that even a cat born and raised as a part of your household never loses its ancient instincts to survive. Your cat may prefer to be alone when going to the toilet.
It has nothing to do with shyness, because that feeling is incomprehensible to your four-legged friend. Still, it is often apparent that your kitty is nervous while you watch it ‘doing business' inside its litter box.
Your cat feels vulnerable when doing its business and is on high alert. Be careful and avoid making eye contact with your furry beauty since it can misunderstand your staring as an act of aggression. On the other hand, it may consider it is perfectly fine to stare at you in similar circumstances.
If your cat changes their attitude towards this and starts using the litter box in front of you, you can relax. That means only one thing. It has concluded that you are worthy of its trust. They may even develop a preference to poop at the same time as you poop, as we've written about here.
Fear of punishment
Many owners yell and punish kittens for peeing or pooping outside the litter box. It can be a scary experience for these creatures, so they may misunderstand that peeing and pooping are inappropriate.
As a result, such pets will start hiding when doing their business to avoid punishment. In such a situation, the best option is to stay around them near the litter box, but without eye contact.
Once your baby understands that pooping doesn't cause your anger, it will gradually stop being afraid. With some treats as a reward for using the litter box, you can solve that unintentionally caused problem. Avoid punishing kittens for missing the litter box – it's much better to train them with positive reinforcement to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to other issues.
Most cats will cover their excrement all their lives to hide the smell from possible predators. It has nothing to do with trust but is an ancient instinct that is almost impossible to eradicate (not that you'd want to!). You should actually start worrying if your furry friend stops covering its poop.
As you have already known, your cat is a creature of habit. It likes using the particular litter box placed in an appropriate place. Your pet won't enjoy having their litter box near bowls with food and water or next to its playground.
If you change this position or if someone unknown appears near the litter box while the kitty poops, your cat will probably feel vulnerable and a bit confused. At worst, you can face terrifying cats' fear aggression.
The best way to avoid confrontation is to ask that person to look away and leave the bathroom. When the cat wants privacy, you need to accommodate its needs. That is how things work, and it is best to stick to established rules.
Otherwise, you will get a lesson like my friend Barbara. She recklessly tried to use a bathroom when my cat Clementine decided to poop. I am not sure whether the cat felt vulnerable or just angry, but she hissed and attacked Barbara. If you have a cat that is prone to this type of aggression, it may be best to keep the litter box somewhere away from where visitors in your house will see it.
How to Help Your Cat Feel Comfortable Pooping?
As you can see, leaving your cat alone while pooping is a must. However, you can do a few other things to help it feel comfortable and relaxed while using the litter box.
Best places for the cat’s litter box
Always put litter boxes in quiet and a bit hidden spots in the home to provide some privacy for your beauty. It should be an easily accessible area with low traffic, preferably in the bathroom. For instance, never force an old or disable cat to climb or go down the stairs to reach the litter box.
Always avoid placing the litter box near a wall heater, washing machine, or dryer since a sudden sound can scare it. According to Cornell, putting the litter box in isolated, dark, and cold places like a garage or basement may cause a problem with its use.
Provide enough litter boxes and keep them clean
It is particularly vital to have enough litter boxes if you have multiple cats in your household. Some kitties are dissatisfied and fussy when forced to share them with other cats. In fact, the more cats you have, the more likely conflicts are to occur.
The crucial thing is the odor they leave, and not every kitty will tolerate other pets' smell around this critical area. Plus, it is necessary to keep litter boxes clean since most kitties refuse to use dirty and smelly boxes.
Your cat's toilet habits are a bit confusing. Even though your kitties may enjoy watching you while spending time in the bathroom, they often prefer some privacy while using a litter box.
The best thing to do is to put the box in the appropriate place and let your cats have some peace, especially if they are shy or have just come to your home.