A Moment of Science

Why Cats Bury Their Droppings

Kitty litter, cat box, automatic pooper scooper--an industry has built up around the fact that domestic cats bury their waste.

cat staring at camera

Photo: Anaa Yoo (Flickr)

Does your cat get territorial?

Kitty litter, cat box, automatic pooper scooper–an industry has built up around the fact that domestic cats bury their waste.

First let’s deal with why they don’t bury it sometimes. Cats, like many animals, are territorial. But they also suspect they are not the only cats around. So if they are on their own turf they will not bury their droppings so as to mark their territory. They might even find a raised mound to make their deposit on so that its perfume will waft as far as possible.

Covering Their Presence

However, if they are on someone else’s turf they will bury their waste in order to cover their presence. This is especially true in the case of a domestic cat if the other turf belongs to someone who walks on two legs and weighs ten times as much as a cat.

This burying behavior is so ingrained that cats will scratch almost anywhere in an effort to complete their burying ritual. Cat owners tell of their felines scratching in the carpet or even on hardwood floors after making an inappropriate deposit. One cat person wrote about his cat scratching the sides of the bathtub after it urinated down the drain.

  • Sdsd Asdfasf

    Sorry, I don’t buy this answer. A more likely supposition (which is all this answer is) is that cats hide their presence by burying their waste but they are not hiding from the “owner of the turf” rather they are hiding their presence from both predators and prey. Cats are small animals and they are victims to larger predators, as much as they are predators themselves of rodents and insects. So cats are hiding from anything that might eat them. A secondary advantage is conferred by not scaring away rodent-meals from that territory, since rodents will avoid areas with the scent of cat urine or poop. The author’s guess is easily refuted by the example of feral cats that bury their waste despite “being on their own turf”.

  • Stoimen

    I cannot agree more. legal herbal highs

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