How do I get our cat to start covering up her poo again?
July 26, 2007 7:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I get our cat to start covering up her poo again?

Our cat is about 1 years old, we got her at the age of 3 months. When we first got her, we got her a "sand"-style litter that clumps (the cheap one), and she was fine with it. Every time she would do a #2, she would cover it up neatly so it wouldn't smell at all.

The only problem was, while doing the cover-up, she would splash the litter all around the litter-box, and all over our bathroom, which got really messy. We decided to change it.

Problem was, we kind of screwed it up. We changed both her litter-box to the one that has a cover on it, and her litter to a more expensive "pine": little pieces of pine that turn into sawdust on contact with cat's pee or poo.

At first, the cat didn't like that at all and rebelled by pooping in the nearby bathtub (I know, disgusting.) We wisened up and did what the instruction on the new litter said - mixed old litter with new one.

That got her to use the litter, but now she does her business and proudly leaves it on laying on top, without any attempt to cover it up. As you can imagine, that stinks our small apartment right up.

Is there any way to re-teach our cat to cover her #2 again? Thanks!!!
posted by zavulon to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps your cat, while she has adjusted to the new litter itself, is now protesting the litter box hood. If the new pine pellets don't scatter as much as the previous sandy stuff, you could try removing the litter box hood to see if she resumes her previous poop-covering habits.

Good luck!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:59 PM on July 26, 2007

Go back to the litter she likes to dig in. If she does her business on top and runs for it, it means she's just barely tolerating the catbox. She'll dig around and "play" if she likes it. The sandy stuff is obviously more fun for her. (This is typical.)

If she throws it around, make sure the catbox is big enough, and if you have to, put high sides around it. Don't use the cave style with a cover on top - they seem like they would be scary (but IANAC). I doubt she throws litter straight up anyway.

I think you should do this right now before she gets any older and settled in her habits.
posted by putril at 8:03 PM on July 26, 2007

Hurdy Gurdy Girl - I failed to mentioned that at first, we kept the cover off, and she was doing exactly the same thing. Putting the cover on didn't change anything, she was leaving the poop on before.

Putril - lol does IANAC mean "I am not a cat?" Thank you for clarifying that important point! :-) Right now the litter is about 60% old sandy stuff. Does that mean she doesn't like ANY presence of the pine pellets?
posted by zavulon at 8:14 PM on July 26, 2007

Yes that's what I meant. However, some of my best friends are cats! If she's doing her thing and running, she's not happy with the catbox. I could only guess why, but it sure might be the litter. I'd immediately switch back to the sand and see if she goes back to her old habits after a while.

I've had several cats and I tell you this - keeping a vacuum by the catbox and cleaning up some sand every few days is better than scraping poops off the carpet. Make sure she's happy with the catbox. Don't try to trick her into tolerating the new litter - it's just not worth it. She'll be with you a long time, and you really want her to like using the catbox as she gets older.
posted by putril at 8:19 PM on July 26, 2007

I have a cat who likes to dig to China, and a kitten who wouldn't cover her poop/liked to poop in the tub. (Hey, it isn't a giant litterbox that's cleaned right away? That's what SHE thinks.)

I found the litter she liked, first. Poop covering solved. Then I hunted down one of those stackable bins for the garage - it has three high sides and a cutout (2 inch lip) opening on the front side. This keeps the litter spray down to a minimum. Put a cat mat in the front to catch any that happens to get kicked that way, and you're good.

I've found that my cats don't like covered boxes (I think it keeps the stink in, good for me=not good for them) and they hate scented litters. My vet reminded me that a litter that smells flowery to me is like being stuck in an elevator with an old woman drenched in White Diamonds to them.
posted by Liosliath at 8:22 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

FWIW my cat never buries hers, and will even spend some time digging up a big pile to poo on top of, leaving it proudly displayed for all to see. So you may be stuck with this.

However, yours did behave better at one point. So in your situation I'd go right back to what was working before, so totally stop using the pine stuff for a while. It may be that it has enough pine scent to mask the natural cat smells associated with the poo, at least for the cat, so she's either not noticing that it's nor properly buried or instead is leaving it in a more prominent position as territorial scent marking. Or she just doesn't like the smell so isn't digging as much (as annoying as the spreading cat litter everywhere was previously it did show she liked digging in it). We bought a tray with really high sides to help prevent litter everywhere, and at one point even used an old veggie drawer from a no-longer-working fridge. The cats had to climb a bit to get in but the litter stayed put. Once you get her digging again then try different types, it may be that the pine stuff just isn't compatible with your cat at all. Your experiments with moving the tray cover indicates that that's not the issue, so maybe try just reverting the litter first rather than going entirely back to the old set up.
posted by shelleycat at 8:23 PM on July 26, 2007

My cat will poop in his box, scratch some litter over the pile, sniff the pile real good. He then will continue this cover, sniff behavior until he is happy with the level of smell. I must say he does cover his poop very well. I use the clumping kind of litter.

I believe your cat pooped in the tub to make a statement. The problem may be that the pine scent is so strong, (remember their little nose is less than an inch away when checking the covered poop) it is overpowering the poop scent. He can't smell it anymore, so it must be covered enough! good luck
posted by JujuB at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2007

Mine had this problem when I was using recycled newspaper litter, and I figured out it was because the pellets are heavy relative to what they were used to. They did get used to it eventually.

If yours doesn't get used to it, you'll just find yourself scooping more, so everyone wins. It's not like she'd be pooping more than once a day anyway, right? Which seems about right.
posted by loiseau at 10:31 PM on July 26, 2007

Let's say you hate beets.

Then you get served a plate of beets. Ick.

Would the fact that someone mixed ice cream into your plateful beets make you excited to poop on them?

It would not.

Quit making her shit on beets. She's told you what she prefers. It's not like she's asking for something that's bad for her. Like, say, ice cream...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:42 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I also used the pine litter for a few years until my cat began to protest by going outside the box. My vet said that most cats prefer unlined, uncovered boxes with sandy, clumping litter, so we switched (we also had been using liners in a covered box). My cat was really excited to have sandy litter again. Right now we're using Swheat Scoop. It's a pain to clean up the bits of litter that she kicks out of the box, but it's better than the alternative.
posted by mingshan at 6:26 AM on July 27, 2007

if you switched her to a covered box, is the pine litter still necessary?

also, please post pictures of the said wrong-doer. thanks!
posted by ceesbees at 8:26 AM on July 27, 2007

My cat doesn't cover her poop either. It's not b/c she doesn't like the litter--she spends quality time in the litter box after pooping, digging and scratching. I think she just doesn't understand the point (she also scratches the wall next to the litterbox and the litter-free sides of the litter box).

I use The World's Best Cat Litter which actually makes uncovered poop not smell, except in the rare instance when my sweetie unleashes an unholy stinker. I live in a small studio apt, so non-smelly cat poop is important to me. It really is the world's best cat litter.
posted by Mavri at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2007

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