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Home Cat FAQ 5 Reasons Why Your Cat Stops Covering Its Poop!

5 Reasons Why Your Cat Stops Covering Its Poop!

by Dina

why would a cat stop covering its poop?If you noticed that your cat has suddenly stopped covering its poop, that would certainly be a cause for concern. After all, any change to a pet's behavior should be taken seriously by cat owners lest it signals a problem.

A cat may stop covering its poop because it’s marking its territory or dealing with a medical issue. It’s also possible that your cat does not agree with the litter box or the litter itself.

Below, you’ll understand more about why your cat no longer bothers to cover its poop. More importantly, you’ll learn how to solve this stinky problem to the benefit of your cat – and yourself.

1. Your cat is marking its territory

Cats are territorial creatures.

They use marking behaviors to warn other cats that a particular territory belongs to them, with the aim of minimizing contact with non-friendly cats.

On top of spraying (squirting urine), head rubbing, and scratching, cats also leave their poop uncovered to spread their scents and mark their territory. This is especially common among male cats.

As for why your cat suddenly decided to leave its poop unburied now instead of before, the answer lies in the environment.

Is there a new cat in the house? If so, your cat may be communicating its dominance to this new cat.

Even if you don’t have a new cat, and the cats in your household have been getting along well, your cat may have reached its social maturity (which typically happens at two to four years of age), and hence start to display marking behaviors.

Otherwise, your cat could also be marking its turf as there are strays wandering outside the home.

How to rectify this:

If you have multiple cats in the house, you should have an adequate number of litter boxes. As a rule of thumb, each cat should have one litter box, and then you should throw in one more. For example, if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes.

Place the litter boxes in different parts of the house so each of your cats can have its own pooping territory.

If you suspect that your cat is stressed due to competition with other cats, create a stress-free home environment by setting up cat perches, scratching areas, hiding spots, and supplying water fountains.

(Btw, water fountains are actually pretty good for cats. We explain why in detail in this article. We highly recommend reading it.)

You could even talk to your vet about stress-reducing products containing pheromone. Of course, don’t forget to cuddle and play with your cats often.Why does my cat not cover its poop?

2. Your cat does not like its litter

First things first: when you spotted poop lying on the litter, gloriously out in the open, was the litter box already full of waste?

The litter box is not conducive for use, much less burying poop, if it’s already full. Cats have a sensitive scent of smell and they are easily averse to using the litter when it stinks!

You’re actually lucky that your cat decided to leave its poop uncovered, which is better than the alternative of your cat pooping at other places in the house, such as on your carpet, bed or bathtub.

How to rectify this:

Scoop the litter box at least once or twice a day. You should also replace the litter entirely once in a while. The frequency depends on the condition of the litter; it could be twice a week to once every two weeks.

Did you recently change the brand of the cat litter? Cats can be very particular about the type of litter in the litter box. Most of them prefer a soft and sandy litter, as opposed to those that come in the form of pellets and crystals.

The fine sandy particles feel better on your cat’s paws, motivating it to cover its poop.

On top of the texture, the smell matters too. If the litter has a fragrance that is unappealing, your cat might choose to reduce the time it spends in the litter box.

How to rectify this:

Your best bet in terms of the type of litter would be clumping and unscented clay litter. Look for those that have little dust, can absorb odor, and clump fast. Then, observe your cat when it’s doing its business.

If your cat likes its litter, it will not attempt to limit its contact with the litter by perching at the side of the litter box. Your cat will also take its time in the litter box, rather than scurry away as soon as it can. We highly recommend getting this clumping cat litter.

Most cats love it – keep in mind that every cat is different though.

If you need a little bit more help with finding a good cat litter for your cat, we highly recommend reading our guide on finding the right cat litter for Siamese cats. The cat litters we recommend there are all great for short-haired cats. Read it here!

If you have a long haired cat, we recommend you to read this article on cat litters. It is a guide for finding one for Maine Coons, but this works well for any long-haired cat, too.

3. The litter box is not conducive for burying poop

Cats can run into many issues with their litter boxes.

Let’s start with the size. An ideal litter should be big enough to fit your cat’s body, and then some. It should have enough wiggle room for your cat to dig into the litter comfortably and find spots that have yet to be soiled.

If your litter box has a hood, that could be your problem. In general, cats prefer their litter boxes to be uncovered because it’s less likely to trap odor plus your cat feels more secure when it’s able to scan its environs.

What happens when the litter box isn’t conducive for pooping and digging? You know the answer: your cat might not cover its poop.

How to rectify this:

Use an uncovered litter box that is sufficiently big for your cat. If your cat is of a large breed (or obese), look out for litter boxes meant for large cats like Maine Coons. Have a look at our article on that here. It shows you the perfect litter box – and it doesn´t even cost much.

Location, location, location.

Even if your cat’s happy with the litter box itself, it might have a problem with the location. If you have recently shifted your cat’s litter box to a new location, perhaps you did not pick a good spot, causing your cat stress or unhappiness, eventually leading to uncovered poop.

How to rectify this:

Switch the location of the litter box(es) to somewhere more ideal. Here are some ideas on what makes a good place for a litter box:

  • The spot should be easily accessible
  • The spot should not be near the food and water bowls
  • The spot should be quiet and not heavily trafficked
  • The spot should be at an open area where your cat will not get “ambushed”
  • The spot should have sufficient light
  • The spot should not be near appliances like the washing machine or refrigerator (as the sounds may be frightening)

You may have to place a few litter boxes around the house to find a suitable spot that your cat likes the best, before removing the extra boxes.Cat does not bury its feces

4. Your cat may have a medical issue

Indeed, if your cat suddenly stops covering its poop, it could be dealing with a medical issue.

For example, your cat might be experiencing pain to its paws, making it reluctant to rummage through the litter and bury its poop. If you have declawed your cat, pain in the paws would be a deterrent for covering waste in the litter box too.

How to rectify this:

If you suspect that your cat is sick, take it to the vet immediately. Your veterinarian is the best person to give your cat a diagnosis.

5. Your cat doesn’t have the instinct to cover its poop

This point is irrelevant if your cat has been covering its poop all the while, only to stop abruptly. It is, however, relevant if you find that your cat has never been inclined to do so in the first place.

Most people consider hiding waste as a natural feline instinct. This is true for cats in the wild, including big cats like lions and tigers.

This bathroom behavior is to prevent catching the attention of predators in the vicinity or to signal submissiveness to the more dominant cats. (At the same time, a dominant cat may deliberately leave poop uncovered to mark its territory – a point that has already been covered.)

For domestic cats, however, burying waste is sometimes a learned behavior. Kittens that did not learn this social skill from their mothers may simply be unaware that they are supposed to cover their poop.

It’s also possible that humans have been selectively breeding cats that they deem as well-behaved enough to bury poop, when in fact the behavior is not entirely instinctive for all cats.

How to rectify this:

You’ll have to teach your cat to bury its poop. (Warning: This won’t be pleasant.) Sit in for your cat’s potty sessions. When your cat is done, take its front paws and show it what to do by making a digging motion.

Reward your cat with a treat whenever your cat gets it right. You’ll have to repeat this process multiple times in order to train your cat.

Related questions

What do you do when your cat poops outside the litter box? You should get to the bottom of this problem but understanding why it happened in the first place. It could be a litter box that is too small, too shallow, or too dirty. Your cat might also need medical attention.

Why did my cat stop covering its pee? Your cat may have a medical problem like arthritis or urinary tract infection, causing its bathroom habits to change. Your cat could also be marking its territory and showing dominance to other cats.

What gets rid of the smell of cat poop? Use an odor-control litter and spray air sanitizer around the litter box. You should also periodically empty the litter box and wash it with hot water and dish soap. Then, use bleach to clean the area surrounding the litter box.

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