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Cat Behavior

Cats covering feces

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Dear Ghost,

Why do cats cover their feces? My two cats are neurotic about covering up everything in their litter box, which is stupid because it’s automatic anyway. Is it really necessary?

Thanks,
Kristin

Purrs and Headbutts, Kristin!

Cats cover up their feces because they don’t want to be to eaten by large prey. Seriously. We know that there are no large animals who will eat us in the house (unless you live here with my mom, who happens to have a coyote living with us, which is a whole other story in itself). But, most cats don’t have coyotes living in homes with them. Mostly it is instinct.

We cover up our feces so that the bigger and meaner animals can’t find us. That’s why we begin using our litter box so early, and without any real training. Besides the fact that we are so much more intelligent than other animals, such as coyotes, it is instinctual for us to cover our litter.

On the other hand, were we living in the wild, and were we the dominant male, we would be prominently displaying our “droppings” as a warning to all who entered our domain. This is one way we let others know who is really the boss. So be happy that your cats are covering up their feces, and are using the litter box. Occasionally, we will leave something around just to prove who the boss really is, but then mom and dad step in and remind us were not in the wild. The coyote doesn’t say much about it though. He’s pretty domesticated. It’s sad, really.

Remember that if a cat suddenly stops using the litter box for some reason, you should have it checked it out immediately by a veterinarian. There could be a urinary blockage or perhaps there is some type of medical reason behind a sudden change of behavior. Mom has reviewed some pretty good products to clean up the occasional accident as well, so be sure to check out our other articles on instinctual behavior for some great recommendations.

I hope that answers your question! We’re all just wild at heart, you know!

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