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Cat doesn't cover her poop in litterbox

June 22nd, 2005, 03:27 PM

I have the sweetest 2 year old female cat named Lola. When she does her business in the litterbox, she is never successful in covering it up. We have a covered litterbox and when Lola attempts to cover her business, she continuously scratches the sides and walls of the litterbox without actually touching any of the litter. She is a very diligent little one, scratching the walls for about 5 minutes and sometimes even going back into the box to 'cover' it again. I guess since she is never really covering her business, she 'covers' and 'covers' continuously. How can I teach her to actually cover her business?



Dog Dancer
June 22nd, 2005, 03:30 PM
I used to have a little female kitty who was in such a hurry to get out of her mess she would often fail to cover it up (we often heard her scratching at it though). My male cat would go in after her and cover hers up!!! He was the tidy one. Once he stood in the box and missed it and pooped on the floor. He then stood there and put half the litter from the box onto the floor just so he could cover it up. Sadly both are gone now, but they still make me giggle.

June 22nd, 2005, 03:40 PM
That's a very funny story! I have 2 other cats and occasionally they go in after her to cover it up for her too! It's nice that they look out for the baby of the family! It's really hilarious watching her in the box -- she is so determined to cover it up and is in there for such a long time. I sometimes say to her jokingly "Okay Lola, that's good .. you've done enough". :)

June 22nd, 2005, 03:49 PM
haha, my cat Tinkerbell has never lifted a paw to cover her own mess. NEVER. My fiance jokes that she probably thinks i should do it for her, seeing as how i do everything else she wants :rolleyes: . My foster kitty always follows her to the litterbox now and covers it for her, which is cute. But sorry, i don't have any helpful suggestions as far as teaching Lola to do it herself, if you figure out anything that works, though, let me know :)

June 22nd, 2005, 03:53 PM
That's okay. I love hearing everyone's cute stories about their cats! Maybe my cat is too much of a princess too to cover up her own mess!

June 22nd, 2005, 04:01 PM
Marty doesn't always cover his mess, but Minou his sister WILL clean up after him. She will go into his box, and cover it for him!!

She is such a good sister to Marty, she diligently grooms him everyday, and licks his face if he gets messy during meals!

June 22nd, 2005, 04:05 PM
I am not sure if a cat "can" be taught to cover up after using. It is certainly desirable that they do this, and it seems a natural thing. I thought that it was sort of a trait that once established either way was kind of ingrained.

Its "possible" she doesnt like the feel of the litter - or feels uncomfortable in a covered box. But more likely - just her habit.

I have three cats and two dont cover up their poop. The male just hits and runs, but the female scratches as you describe - all around the top and sides of the box. Sometimes this goes on for a long time - like she's in a trance. But she doesnt bury her deposit.
When they were younger, I tried changing litter, I removed the top of the covered box... but this didnt change a thing.

You could perhaps try a second box - an uncovered one. Some cats are very fussy, and like to poop in one box and pee in another.
Maybe some others can give you some suggestions, but as your Lola is now two years, it might just remain her m.o. for litterbox behaviour. :)

Dog Dancer... that is very funny about your cats! Awww.., he tried to solve the problem he had created.

I was once startled to see my little dog in one of the boxes. What WAS he doing.. digging, digging..pushing the litter around with his nose???
He'd swiped a bone from the trash.. was trying to bury it.
At least HE knew what to do..

June 22nd, 2005, 04:05 PM
Same with Lola's sister, Jinxy! She is like a mother to Lola -- always cleaning her face, ears and fur for her. It's so sweet to see them do it!

June 22nd, 2005, 04:11 PM

What you described -- your cat being in a trance like state while scratching the box -- is exactly what Lola does! I'll try taking the cover off the top of the litter box. I used to have an open box in my other place and it seems to me that she was able to cover her mess properly. It makes sense that she should be able to cover properly without that walls and sides of the top cover getting in her way. I know I tried this once before and I think she was a little confused. She even does this by her food -- I know most cats scratch the floor to cover up their food but Lola will scratch the side of the wall for like 5 minutes to cover it up! I always say to her "Lola, if you cover up the food, Mambo and Jinxy are not going to be able to find it!" Ha ha.

Thanks for the suggestions.

June 22nd, 2005, 04:21 PM
I used covered boxes a long time ago,but read they can cause problems for the cats,they breath in too much of the dust,so I went back to regular boxes.
I buy the Rubbermaid storage-boxes,got that idea from here at the Forum.
They have higher sides and large enough for the cat to scratch inside the box.Sometimes they are cheaper than litter-trays.
The best thing is of course to clean up the poop as soon as you notice,then no other cat will have to step in it.

June 22nd, 2005, 04:34 PM
Fu most of the time will "cover up" when he uses the litter box. But Honey being the neat freak she is will go in and cover up what he forgets. She has been doing this since we got him. She will be there for a few minutes covering and scratching at the sides of the box.

June 22nd, 2005, 04:40 PM
Chico: Thanks for the suggestions -- maybe I will try one of those rubbermaid boxes.

April: That is sweet that your other cat is such a neat freak! Lola is a bit of a clean freak too (except for the not covering her poop thing)! Ha ha. She takes after her mom!

June 22nd, 2005, 04:41 PM
Cody never covers, he does like the others mentioned here, he scratches the walls, the floor, etc. I think he thinks he is covering it. He learned that from his mom, she didn't cover either. Harley and Huxley will cover for him, I guess they think it is disgusting.


June 22nd, 2005, 08:41 PM
So it seems from all of your responses that I don't have a crazy and litter-box challenged cat!

June 24th, 2005, 11:07 PM
My cat doesn't cover hers, either. I have only had her about 6months, and my husband wants to get rid of her because it stinks up the house. I clean out her litter box at least once a day, but if when we come home from work, and the house smells from her poop sitting uncovered all day! It is embarrassing to have people stop by the house sometimes!

June 25th, 2005, 12:39 AM
my husband wants to get rid of her because it stinks up the house... It is embarrassing to have people stop by the house sometimes!

5willow: Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about my cat not covering up her poop. I was just wondering if this was abnormal and if there was any easy way to teach her how to do so. But, I would NEVER entertain the idea of getting rid of one of my cats because of some minor pet peeve of mine or my partner for that matter. Why should you find it embarrassing if people stop by the house? All you have to do is tell them that your cat never covers her business and open the window. I'm sorry if I sound harsh but it always makes me upset when I hear people talk about how they might just get rid of their pet or give him/her away because they are unable to put up with everything that comes along with having one! I used to live in a small town and my parents and me were always the people who would take in dogs and cats whose owners just found them to be an inconvenience to them. When I have a pet, it's for life. I would suggest that you maybe give some thought to what your pet means to you and think about this the next time you decide that you must have the cute little puppy or kitty in the window. I'm sorry if I've offended you but I can't tolerate people frivolously talking about getting rid of their pets.

June 25th, 2005, 07:08 AM
5Willow,your post made me shudder,(kinder word than I was thinking of!)cats poop and pee and even if covered,if it sits there all day while you're at work...of course it will smell! Poop smells,whether it's human or animal!!
Your husbands threat to get"rid"of the cat for pooping is really sad!!

June 25th, 2005, 09:11 AM
I know about the committment - I realize that I have probably 15 more years now of putting up with the smell. That is my problem- the earlier I figure it out, the better. I came to you all for help! This is my 4th cat - all the others lived at least 16 years, and I went through all the "old age" problems with them of arthritis, bladder problems, ect. with out a second thought. I still have one of them, "Shadow" (I call him Baby). He's about 9 now. I didn't want another cat, Shadow was content being the baby of the house. But this stray showed up, who looks just like Shadow, by the way, and could pass for his child (if he wasn't neutered!). I took "Rockie" in as a stray, who had worms, ear mites, etc. Spent alot of time and money on her, and everything. I spent the first 5 months cleaning up her diareah, which always ended up running down the outside of the litter box, hardly ever in it, or cleaning it up off of the floor (after stepping in it on my way through the house at night) because she didn't make it to the bathroom. It has just been a never ending battle with her, and I am just looking for some help. My husband has never liked cats, and puts up with them because he knows I love them, and he loves me.

June 25th, 2005, 09:52 AM
My cat Zak - does the exact same thing.

Leaves it on top - the little bugger.

I have heard that it may be related to dominance, as if to say here is my smell and I WANT it known that it is MY smell - I am king. :king:

I am not sure if that's true or not.

Either way I don't think there's much you can do about the actual behaviour.

It's people like us that keep Lysol in business :D

June 25th, 2005, 10:18 AM
Sorry Willow,but to me it read like you were new to having a cat..
35 yrs ago,my husband too thought he did not like cats,but many cats later,he probably loves them almost as much as I do.
Ask your husband to give the cats a chance,look at them for what they really are,wonderful little creatures,poop and all :D

June 25th, 2005, 10:35 AM
I thought about the dominence thing, too. I would bet that is it. I had put an air filter in by the litter box - didn't really help. Candle helped a little. The litter is always clean of their business, so it doesn't smell normally. Only if I am not home to clean up right away after she goes. Then, watch out! It festers though out the whole house, then hits you in the face when you come in the door! Maybe I need to puts something by the front door, instead!

June 25th, 2005, 11:04 AM
Have you tried changing her food, stinky totos sometimes mean food that isn't well digested. Also I believe there are litters - not the perfumed ones, yuk - that reduce the smell. Also, there might be something about the litter you are using that turns her off, hence no digging. I seem to have acquired something of an immunity to cat box odours, but my mother goes on and on about it. Depends on the person, I guess.

PS No leaving lit candles near the litterbox, OK? Stinky and singed, not good!

June 25th, 2005, 01:40 PM
Good idea about the food or something causing the extra smell. And about the candle. I used to have a self cleaning litter box for my older cat, but my new cat Rocco (My husband and children call her "Stinko" by the way), would always go on the side of the box (diareah in the beginning) and it was a mess cleaning all the parts she would mess up all the time, so I got rid of it. Now, we have two litter boxes - one for each activity. I may try the self cleaning litter box again, now that the diareah is over. If that worked, that would do the trick! But if not, $100 down the drain.

June 25th, 2005, 01:51 PM
I had a cat before she is gone now she ran away and we never found her. When she was a kitten she had no idea how to use the litter box and pooped beside my head Yuck. I actually had to teach her how to use it. She did figure it out eventually but never did cover it up and sometimes would poop out the end of the box. She would poop then she scratch the wall afterwards for about 3 or 4 minutes it was pretty funny to watch.

June 25th, 2005, 03:01 PM
The smell is caused by the poop so when you come home, if you just either cover the poop for your cat or just remove it right away and open the window the smell will be gone fairly soon. That's what I do when Lola goes into the box and leaves a stinker for us -- just go in after her and tip the box to the sides a few times to cover it and then the smell is gone. I think I've also developed an immunity to the smell of cat poop as well!

Sorry for being so harsh 5willow -- I just hate hearing that people are considering getting rid of their cats for what I think are small annoyances. I've stepped in puke for the last month but I would never consider giving away my cat Mambo.

June 25th, 2005, 04:33 PM
The way I see it, I am doing the best I can to help this one out. We have many stray cats in my neighborhood, and I hate to see them starve and fight their way in life. I took my cat in, before it had a chance to freeze to death, with a terrible case of worms and ear mites, and nursed it's way back to health. I am not a terrible person. She gets loved and treated well.

June 25th, 2005, 08:51 PM
Not suggesting you are a bad mother to your pets -- just wondering why you would consider getting rid of her. :)

June 25th, 2005, 09:25 PM
YY sometimes does not cover her stuff up completely - she is so nosy that I rather suspect she needs to investigate whatever it is and she knows she has boxes here and there, lol I usually remove the stuff right away anyway if I am close by. I never allow it to linger and smell - and if it does, well, she has her own bathroom so who cares. If visitors do not like my cat, they are not welcome!! I also thought that since I remove it so quickly she may have deduced what was the point, meomy is waiting for me with that strange looking thing to gather it up, lol Seriously, I have read that a cat who is well adjusted and secure in her domain - king of the hill as Marco said - or king anyway, lol - they do not see the need. My bf said the other day and I don't think it was in jest that YY runs my household anyway so maybe that is her explanation right there, heheh You know that expression, A Siamese will not ne denied. That is my YY, lol

The Sphinexes always cover theirs - they too have seperate boxes.

5Willow, I think your husband is not a cat person but he needs to give the kitty a chance and learn how to live with a cat. In time, he may appreciate their unique and adorable qualities.

June 26th, 2005, 11:58 AM
Yesterday, I when I did my weeking cleaning around the litter boxes, I had changed them around so the one Rocco uses the most was switched with the one my other cat uses most. I thought it would be no big deal - it just looked better lined up that way. But last night, Rocco went in to use the box she normally uses, and I heard this bunch of scratching business going on!! I thought "what is going on?" I went to look, and "Horray!" she had covered it up! All that night and today, she has been covering up! I'd bet that that she sees her box in the front as being the "dominent" one now! :thumbs up

June 26th, 2005, 02:36 PM
:thumbs up That's great 5willow! I always find that sometimes if you change something up in a cat's routine, they break some of their habits. Like my cat Mambo used to claw at the screens to get outside at my other place but once I moved, he no longer does this anymore!