It’s well known that cats are mysterious animals that can sometimes adopt strange behaviors. And what could be stranger than covering their excrement with dirt or litter? But what could drive them to do so?
Matter of survival
Burying feces is something cats first learn from their mothers. Indeed, the latter shows them how to do it from an early age. They then reproduce this behavior as adults. But why teach them that? To protect them…
Indeed, one would tend to think that, the cat being an animal renowned for its irreproachable cleanliness, it buries its excrement for the sole purpose of making a clean place. To “clean up” behind them in a way, like a human who makes their needs disappear by flushing the toilet. In reality, it is nothing.
The cat in fact inherited this behavior from its wild ancestors who had learned to cover their excrement in nature so as not to be detected by predators, such as dogs. Indeed, burying their urine and droppings helps to mask their smell. However, the cat being a predator, but also a prey, it had every interest, in order to survive, not to be noticed and to do everything not to attract possible enemies or adversaries on its territory. Because the cat only relieves itself on its territory.
Some theorize that this is also why cats tend to run around like crazy after defecating. Indeed, it would also be an ancestral behavior that pushes them to flee as far as possible from the traces they have left in order not to be caught by predators.
To avoid conflicts
If cats cover their excrement, it is also to avoid any conflict with the dominant cat in the area. Indeed, the dominant never buries their droppings in the ground. On the contrary, it leaves them in full view of everyone, preferably in raised places, to make it clear to the other cats that it is the boss.
Burying their droppings is therefore a way for your cat to respect the hierarchy if it lives with several cats. It is a sign of submission. If it is “unique cat”, it is you, their human, that it must consider as the dominant male. So, if your cat never covers their excrement, ask yourself questions about your relationship…