Why Do Cats Bury Their Turds? Here’s the Scoop.

Why do cats bury their turds?

If you have ever owned a cat, chances are you’ve glanced over at the litter box and wondered, “Why do cats bury their turds?”

As you’ve probably noticed, cats usually instinctively bury their feces and urine in the litter box (or in the ground). Cats have a thing for cleanliness, something dogs don’t seem to care as much about.


An exception to the turd-buriers: Certain tomcats (the macho males) will leave their poop lying around, mainly as an advertisement. But the less-powerful males, along with practically all female felines, will bury their waste to draw less attention to themselves. According to Beyond Words: Talking With Animals and Nature, this is simply a survival instinct. Cats will dig and bury their poo in order to hide their tell-tale scent.

The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health informs us that most free-living cats bury their turds near their nesting sites, or within their home range. However, normally, these independent cats do not bury their feces when they are out hunting or on the outskirts of their territories. By not burying it, they are leaving a territorial mark on that area. Burying the feces within their home area, meanwhile, fulfills their hygienic instincts.

According to The Cat Care Book, tame kittens learn to use a litter box by watching the mama cat using it. When you choose a kitten as your house pet, you should train it to use a litter box. Usually, she will jump right in the box, do her job, bury it and exit. If kitty misses the box, simply pick the stool up with some paper towels or gloves and put it in the box. This will be a sign for your pet that the poop goes there.

Many people choose to have cats as pets because of their clean nature. Help your cat maintain its sanitary living conditions by providing a nice, fresh litter box when it becomes filled with buried wastes.

Cat owners out there — be proud! Think of all the other pets you could have chosen, who would not have cared where they pooped.

The simplest answer to the question “Why do cats bury their turds?” is, they don’t want to ruin their clean reputation.

Photo: Crankydragon/Flickr

From Around the Web

  • Bruce dog treat guy


    I am a dog walker and I have come across some very interesting dog toilet etiquette. Most dogs will make a rough attempt to scratch sand over their poo, but this is very random, almost like a memory of what they should do. I have also walked poo eaters and poo rollers.

    However the poo thing often shows up behavioral issues with the dogs I walk. For instance, just like the less dominant cats, rescue dogs are more likely to eat their poo to try and hide it and I have even had one that walked while he poo-ed in an attempt to spread out the cluster making it less obvious? This did not work. There is a whole science around this topic and I think the more we talk about it, the more we can uncover issues that need to be resolved. Cheers, Bruce

  • Toast_particle

    I have 3 cats. The male ALWAYS covers his poo. The girls do their thing then race away from the box like they are trying to outrun their stink. Quite often, the male smells it then goes in and covers it up. On a side note, the younger female and the male both try to “bury” their canned food if they don’t want to finish it.

    • http://www.petsadviser.com/ David Deleon Baker

      Burying food – that’s something I see dogs do a lot, but it’s rare in cats. At least I thought it was.

      • Toast_particle

         They are actually the latest in a long line of kitties we have had who have exhibited the food burying behavior. It began with a stray we rescued. It’s possible the male copied her behavior and our new little female learned it from him. They do it with the bowls of dry food as well.