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How to teach cat to cover poop

August 11, 2023

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Cats are known for their cleanliness and ability to use a litter box to relieve themselves. However, sometimes cat owners may encounter the issue of their feline friend not covering their poop in the litter box. This behavior can be frustrating and unpleasant, but there are ways to teach your cat to cover their waste. In this article, we will explore effective methods and techniques that can help you train your cat to cover their poop. Whether you are a new cat owner or have had cats for years, these tips will assist you in maintaining a clean and hygienic environment for both you and your furry companion.

The Importance of Teaching Cats to Cover Their Poop

Cats are naturally inclined to cover their waste, and this behavior serves several purposes. By covering their poop, cats instinctively try to hide their presence from potential predators in the wild. Additionally, covering waste helps to prevent the spread of odor and bacteria, ensuring a cleaner and healthier living environment for both humans and cats.

When a cat fails to cover their poop, it can lead to unpleasant smells lingering in your home. Moreover, uncovered waste may attract flies or other pests, posing a potential health risk. It is crucial to address this issue promptly by teaching your cat the appropriate behavior.

Understanding Your Cat’s Behavior

Before diving into the training methods, it’s essential to understand why your cat may not be covering their poop. There can be several reasons behind this behavior:

  • Territorial Marking: Cats have scent glands on their paws, which they use to mark territory. By leaving their poop uncovered, they may be trying to establish dominance or claim ownership over an area.
  • Anxiety or Stress: Cats may feel anxious or stressed due to changes in their environment, such as moving to a new home or the introduction of a new pet. This can disrupt their regular behavior, including covering their waste.
  • Litter Box Issues: Uncomfortable or dirty litter boxes can discourage cats from covering their poop. Cats are naturally clean animals and may avoid a litter box that is not up to their standards.
  • Health Problems: In some cases, cats may have underlying health issues that make it difficult for them to cover their waste. If you notice any other unusual behaviors or signs of illness, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian.

Training Methods to Teach Your Cat to Cover Their Poop

Now that we understand the reasons behind this behavior, let’s explore effective training methods to teach your cat to cover their poop:

1. Provide a Clean and Comfortable Litter Box

Ensuring that your cat has a clean and comfortable litter box is crucial for encouraging them to cover their waste. Here are some tips to create an inviting litter box environment:

  • Regularly clean the litter box: Scoop out waste at least once a day and completely change the litter every week.
  • Use unscented litter: Cats have a highly sensitive sense of smell, and scented litter may deter them from using the litter box.
  • Choose the right litter box: Consider the size and depth of the litter box. Some cats prefer larger boxes, while others may feel more comfortable in smaller enclosed spaces.
  • Provide multiple litter boxes: If you have multiple cats, ensure each cat has its own litter box. Some cats prefer separate areas for urinating and defecating.

2. Gradual Training with Positive Reinforcement

Training your cat to cover their poop requires patience and positive reinforcement. Follow these steps to gradually teach your cat the desired behavior:

  • Observe your cat’s behavior: Pay attention to when and where they poop. This will help you anticipate their needs and reinforce the training process.
  • Place your cat in the litter box: After your cat finishes pooping, gently place them in the litter box.
  • Use a gentle paw motion: With your cat in the litter box, gently take one of their paws and demonstrate a digging motion in the litter. This mimics the action of covering waste.
  • Praise and reward: As soon as your cat starts covering their poop, praise them with a gentle voice and offer a small treat or their favorite toy as a reward.
  • Repeat consistently: Consistency is key. Repeat this training process every time your cat uses the litter box until they start covering their waste consistently.

3. Addressing Anxiety or Stress

If your cat’s failure to cover their poop is due to anxiety or stress, addressing the underlying cause is crucial. Consider these strategies to help reduce anxiety:

  • Create a calm environment: Provide hiding spots, comfortable bedding, and vertical spaces like cat trees for your cat to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed.
  • Introduce changes gradually: If you are making changes in your home, such as rearranging furniture or introducing new pets, do so gradually to minimize stress for your cat.
  • Consider pheromone products: Feliway, a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray or diffuser, can help create a calming environment for your cat.

4. Seek Veterinary Advice

If you have tried various training methods and your cat still refuses to cover their poop, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions or provide additional guidance specific to your cat’s needs.


Teaching your cat to cover their poop is essential for maintaining a clean and hygienic living environment. By understanding your cat’s behavior, providing a clean litter box, and using positive reinforcement techniques, you can effectively train your cat to exhibit this desired behavior. Remember to address any underlying anxiety or stress factors and seek veterinary advice if necessary.

With patience, consistency, and love, you can help your cat develop the habit of covering their waste, ensuring a harmonious relationship between you and your feline friend.

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