Dear Molly, "Covering Poop"

Dear Molly,

My cat, Yoda, doesn't seem to hide or cover his poop in the litter box. This is my first cat and I'd really like for him to cover it. Can you help?

Dear Yoda's Mom,

Not all cats cover their poop. Typically, cat’s don’t cover poop when they are trying to make a territorial statement. When living outside, cats will claim a large territory and mark it with their scent – using urine and feces. When they are sending a signal to a neighboring cat, they leave excrement uncovered so it is smelled more. If they are worried about predators, they will tend to cover it up. But in a single cat household, it could go either way. My cat doesn’t cover his poop.



Here are a few things that could contribute to excrement covering:

  • Litter – If the cat doesn’t like the texture of the litter, they won’t want to dig in it. Be sure you are using a fine sand texture. I recommend Tidy Cats Featherlight Unscented – it is super soft and light, clumps well and does not have harmful chemicals.

  • Cleanliness of the box – Cats don’t like to step on their own excrement so be sure you are scooping the box twice a day. Keeping a litter genie (kind of a diaper pail device for cat litter) next to the litter box can make cleaning much easier. Here is a link to that product on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Litter-Genie-Plus-Pail-Silver/dp/B007IRMTXE/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=catbehaviorso-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=6bef83449e1aa1452891713d6ecafd8d&creativeASIN=B007IRMTXE

  • Size of the box – make sure the box is at least 1.5 times the length of the cat (from tip of nose to base of tail) or they will not have enough room to feel comfortable and will often just do their business and then dart out.

  • Uncovered litter box – Cats get uneasy in a covered box – it is unnatural to them and they may want to get out quickly without covering

  • Diet – If a cat is constipated, or has runny poo, it can become uncomfortable to go – and they will want to pop out of the box and go somewhere not associated with the discomfort. You indicated on your form that you feed dry food only – that will make a cat dehydrated and lead to constipation. Here is a link to a podcast on what you should be feeding your cat: https://www.catbehaviorsolutions.org/podcast/episode/46580721/what-to-feed-your-cat

  • Outside cats – Make sure your cat isn’t seeing cats outside windows. If he is, he may be trying to leave a message for them.

Since Yoda is your first cat, you will probably learn a lot from the Cat Talk Radio podcasts. There are over 50 of them on a variety of topics, you can find the index here: https://www.catbehaviorsolutions.org/podcast

Best of luck to you and your new family member, Yoda! (Such a cute name!)

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