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Kitten Doesn't Bury Feces

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone!

I'm new here as well as a new companion (I'm still working with the proper terms here; I certainly didn't want to say "owner") of a kitten. I've never had a cat or any animal before, so I'm learning a lot.

My kitten, Bailey, is about 10 weeks old according to the shelter I got her from, maybe even younger if my vet is correct. Either way, she's litter trained and extremely friendly and sweet. However, lately I've been noticing that she hasn't been burying her feces or urine in the litter box. From what I understand, cats won't always bury/cover where they go pee, but Bailey has consistently covered her feces up until recently. What makes things even stranger is that I can hear her scratching around in the litter box, and when I look after she's done, she certainly has disturbed the litter by digging around. However, most of the time she hasn't covered her poo! Why would she dig around in the litter if she wasn't burying anything? Could the digging behavior be instinct and she just doesn't have the proper aim?

This wouldn't be a huge deal, but after she's done and doesn't cover her feces, it tends to smell a bit worse than if she does. I'm worried that (among other things) this may discourage her from returning to the litter box in the future. I also don't want to do it for her (as I have been doing lately) because I would like her to learn that she has to do it herself. I clean the box at least once a day, but I would just like some peace of mind. Any information you guys and gals could provide would be appreciated! Thanks!
post #2 of 10
Hello, and welcome, to you and Bailey! Some kittens who were raised without the benefit of their Mom Cat to teach them to cover their pee and poo are not skilled in this task. Some cats will leave their poo uncovered as a show of dominance. Sierra, for instance, will often leave hers uncovered, and then Serenity hops in behind her to cover it up In contrast, though, it sounds as if Bailey is digging around with the intention of covering it up but sort of..missing. With any sudden change in behavior such as this, I always recommend a trip to the Vet to see if there may be a particular health issue lending to the situation.

What you may want to try is, when Bailey has hopped out after unsuccessfully covering, gently (not as a punishment at all, cats don't respond to negative reinforcement, but in a sweet, let's do this sort of way) return her to her box and show her how to cover it, then, next time, encouraging her dig around so that she covers it up herself. Every time you see her accomplish the task, get excited and tell her what a good girl she is, rewarding her with a treat! I hope this helps!
post #3 of 10
IMO mom doesnt' really teach the kittens to bury or not to bury - they just more/less show them where to go.

My rex queens would bury - but only about 1/2 of the kittens did. Its part of the cat's personality - you can't make them bury it.

As far as the smell, has the kitten been checked for worms and treated? What kind of food are you feeding? Worms and poorer quality food will cause a stronger odor to the poop. And kittens tend to be smellier then adults - maybe cause they are not spayed/neutered till later.
post #4 of 10
I'd have her checked for worms. They can be tenacious and require more than one treatment.

Since she used to, and doesn't anymore, I'd say she's trying to tell you something. Since the sample is right there, grab it and drop it off at the vet for testing.

If she checks out okay, the litter ritual where you show her you'd like her to cover is a great idea.
post #5 of 10
My tortie girl has always had a difficulty in covering her poo. I hear her scratching around, but when she comes out it still is sitting on top of the sand. Very occasionally she does manage to get it covered. Fortunately it doesn't smell so I never really worried about it much.

Forrest, however, hates that she doesn't cover and will get in the box immediately after she gets out and cover it up for her. He's quite meticulous about his box habits.

I do agree with the other posters that it would be best for a vet check up just to rule out any physical issues especially if the smell has changed for the worse.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi again,

Thanks for all your responses. I did have Bailey checked for worms almost 2 weeks ago and guess what? She had them and the vet gave her a pill for them. I have a checkup scheduled for Monday to assess her health again and I'm honestly assuming they'll find that they haven't gone away. A lot of the signs seems to be there; change in behavior, bloated belly, etc. So luckily we have only one more day to wait.

Lately she's also been behaving differently when it comes to actually using the litterbox. I noticed the other day that it smelled like urine behind my desk and I figured it was because she had gone back there. I thought at first that she had been scared by the noise of the bass from my speakers and maybe lost control for a moment. However, yesterday I stood and watched her leave the bathroom (where her litter box is), walk over to my bookcase where I was standing and started to pee right in front of me. I immediately carried her into her litterbox, but it was too late. Then later today I noticed that she had made a poo right outside the bathroom door. It also looked as though there was just a little bit of feces in the litter box, as if she hadn't made it on time. *sigh* So obviously something is wrong and I can't wait to take her in on Monday. Problem is, I've caught her trying to sneak behind the desk again and found her sniffing around the area she pooed and when I snatched her up and put her in the litterbox, she went ahead and did her business. To me it's clear she can still smell her scent and thinks its ok to go on the carpet in these areas.

I've placed aluminum foil down and sprayed the area with carpet cleaners, but I know this isn't enough. Can anyone suggest some commercial cleaners and/or some "homemade" options for cleaning up and keeping her away from these areas in the future? I'll mention these behaviors to the vet, but I feel as though I need some hints for when these things happen again.
post #7 of 10
Ah, new information, thank you for telling us about this! The fact that she's urinating outside the box is definitely worrisome. At Bailey's Dr appt, be sure to tell her Vet about this. She should definitely be tested for a uti! Please do let us know how her appt goes!
post #8 of 10
I have 2 cats. Chynna is my oldest and she is the dominant one in the house. She would dig her way to China if the bottom of the litter box and floor didn't stop her. When she is done she mounds all of the litter into a mountain

Abby on the other hand never buries her business. She never has. She hates to get her paws dirty. To see her in the litter box is a riot! She tip toes in and perches herself on one of the corners with 3 legs (she would use all 4 if she could balance herself) and keeps 1 leg in the litter box. When done she leaps out of the box and shakes her foot madly. Sometimes she will scratch on the floor, or jump into the tub and scratch the side of the bathtub, but she will never dig in the cat litter, even if the litter has just been changed. It has nothing to do with not having had her mom around to teach her. Abby was 12 weeks old when she came to live with me and was with her mom that whole time.

However, not long ago Abby did surprise me once by actually taking time to cover her pee once. But it was only once and it was only one or two paw strokes. But she's never done it since.

Not all kitties do cover up. I guess just like people, some kitties have different potty habits.
post #9 of 10
Poor little girl - I'm sure you'll be happy to get into the vet. When my male had some litter box issues (turned out behavioral, rather than physical issues), I used Nature's Miracle to clean the carpeting. Read the directions and really douse the area - takes a while to soak into the carpet padding. I also used a black light to check for all the areas, since my nose wasn't sensitive enough to find all the spots.

Oh, I also switched to Cat Attract litter - you might want to try Kitten Attract - the herbs in the litter tend really appeal to the kitties!

Later I rented a carpet cleaner from Ace and went over the carpeting, just using plain water as recommended by my local animal control department.

Re covering the feces, well, when it's new behavior it's always good to visit the the vet, but I was told some cats just never cover - part of their personality, part of marking their territory, etc.

Good luck - hope the vet finds something easily treatable so you and your baby can rest easy.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well, we visted the vet earlier this week and he couldn't find anything wrong with her. He checked for worms (because of her belly) and didn't find anything but dewormed her anyway. He also gave me some antibiotics for a potential bladder infection that he also doesn't really think is the case. He told me I was feeding her the wrong food, apparently, which I won't get into here, but needless to say I've taken care of that. He also provided me with some enzyme cleaner which has done wonders for the spots where she peed, which I found using the blacklight that was suggested earlier.

She's still acting "bad," though. She pooped again in the corner where I cleaned with enzyme cleaner in the bedroom the other day. This morning, when we opened the door to let her out, she practically sprinted to another corner of the bedroom by the closet and took a pee before my fiance could stop her. She seems to gravitate towards certain types of areas, so I spray the citrus scented spray there and she seems to avoid them. BUT, she still uses the litterbox unreliably. Not 5 minutes ago I watched her strolling towards my desk area (the site of her first offense) where she paused and looked around for a few moments. Then, after finding a suitable spot, she squatted down and got ready to pee. I quickly squirted her with my squirt bottle (I haven't checked these forums as to how people feel about this, but I have read and been told that this is a decent way to stop cats from doing certain things without associating the punishment with yourself), and guess what? She startled briefly and then trotted, didn't sprint, to the litter box as if to say "ok, ok, I'll go here this time." I rewarded and continue to reward her when she uses the litterbox, but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

She's the sweetest thing; she snuggles up with us on the couch and she even lets me approach her while she's laying on the floor and rub her belly. I didn't think cats were into that. In my eyes, she's obviously very comfortable and maybe that's the problem? Perhaps she's too comfortable? She practically pees right in front of us, so maybe she doesn't feel vulnerable around us? I'm at my wits end at this point; I feel as though I have to watch her every move. While I was on the phone earlier today, she tried to crawl into the back of my guitar amp and I had to grab her because she just ate and I didn't want her doing her business in there.
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