why do cats rub the floor after pooping
Questions About Cats

Why Do Cats Scratch the Floor After Pooping?

Cats often leave their litter box and scratch the floor after they poop. It can be confusing for pet owners because it doesn’t appear to serve any purpose, but there is a logical explanation.

Why do cats scratch the floor after pooping? Cats scratch the floor after pooping because their litter box is too small. Cats bury their waste to disguise their presence from predators and prey. If their litter box isn’t big enough, they don’t know where the tray ends and the floor begins. Felines think that they’re burying their waste.

Finding the right size of litter box doesn’t just involve buying the largest product in the store. You need the right shape and must line it with quality cat litter. By following the recommendations in this guide, your cat scratching the floor after using the litter box will soon stop.

My Cat Leaves Their Litter Box and Scratches the Floor

When your cat eliminates, the smell is distinct and unmistakable. To animals, cat poop is extremely potent. This means your cat will never be able to move undetected unless they hide the evidence.

Your cat will bury their poop. Cats kick their litter over their waste in their tray to mask the sight and smell. If your cat eliminates outdoors, they’ll likely do so in the soil so it can be hidden.

How does this pertain to a cat scratching the floor after pooping, though? It’s likely that your cat is confused where their litter tray ends and the floor begins.

There could be for the following reasons:

  1. The designated bathroom area is too small. If your cat doesn’t have room to maneuver, they won’t stick to the litter box.
  2. The sides of the tray are too low, and litter is spilling all over the floor. This confuses your cat, as there is no distinction between smells.
  3. Your litter tray has not been cleaned for a while. This makes for an unappealing aroma, and your cat will want nothing to do with it.

How to Choose the Right Litter Box for Your Cat

Eradicating unwanted litter box behaviors starts with finding the right box in the first place. Preventative Vet offers some advice in making this choice.

The most important thing to consider is the size and shape of your cat’s litter box. If your cat isn’t comfortable, they will not enjoy a good relationship with their litter box.

Why Do Cats Scratch After Using the Litter Box?

Your cat will then take out their frustration out on your floor. This will not end well for anybody. Your cat could hurt themselves, and you’ll become angry at any potential damage.

What is the Best Size for a Cat’s Litter Box?

When choosing a litter box, it is essential that your cat can move. As a rule, your cat should be able to turn around within their litter box comfortably.

What is most important is that your cat never feels compressed. While felines usually enjoy tight spaces, their litter box is an exception.

Measure your cat, from the top of their nose to the bottom of their extended tail. Their litter box should be at least this long and wide, ideally more so.

This way, your cat will be able to move freely in their litter box, avoid previous deposits. In turn, your cat can successfully bury their waste.

A lack of space will render your cat unable to satisfy this instinct. Scratching the floor will follow.

What is the Best Shape for a Cat’s Litter Box?

In addition to the size of your cat’s litter box, you need to consider the shape. Different cats have different needs and mobility restrictions.

Some senior cats sleep in their litter box for a variety of reasons. An older or arthritic cat would prefer a low-sided litter tray. This will be easier to climb in an out of. One entry point that is entirely at ground level would be even better.

Such a shape will not work if your cat is prone to kicking and spraying litter, though. If your cat digs in their litter boisterously, they’ll knock it onto the floor.

If the floor smells like litter, your cat will treat it as such. Scratching will then ensue.

If your cat likes to dig in their litter, get a box with high sides. If this isn’t an option, be very vigilant about cleaning the floor around the area.

Should the Litter Box be Covered or Uncovered?

Opinions vary on whether a cat should have a covered or uncovered litter box. These products have pros and cons.

Covered litter boxes minimize the risk of your cat scratching the floor. Your pet will have a very particular, designed area for elimination. The cover will also mask the aroma of their waste.

The other key advantage of covered litter boxes is privacy. Some cats prefer to be alone when they eliminate. A cover provides this opportunity.

Some cats will reject a covered litter box, however. Felines feel extremely vulnerable while eliminating. In a covered litter box, they cannot see any threats coming.

As always, it all depends on your cat and their unique personality. Make a judgment based on what is important for your pet.

Alternatively, you could provide a range of different litter box options. A study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery recommends this approach.

A range of litter boxes in multiple locations helps your cat choose where they’re most comfortable. This, again, reduces confusion and the risk of scratching the floor.

How Much Litter Should I Put in My Cat’s Tray?

Once you have your litter box in place, it’s ready to be filled. Just how much litter you use is also vital to your cat, though.

A good rule of thumb is that your cat’s litter box should be two-thirds full. Too little, and they won’t feel like their waste is appropriately buried. This will lead to more scratching.

cat scratches floor after litter box

Too much litter is just as problematic. Your cat will fling this all over the floor, and grow confused about where to dig. Scratching the floor will invariably follow.

Choosing what litter to use will also be important. Felines can be fussy about their litter. Avoid a scented brand if possible. It may mask the smell of your cat’s waste, but your pet may be put off.

Once you find a brand that your cat likes, stick with it. Changing litter can stress cats out.

How Often Should a Litter Box be Cleaned?

You’ll need to scoop your litter box several times a day. It will also need to be thoroughly cleaned a couple of times a week. Using a clumping litter will make this process a little easier. As the name suggests, this clumps when wet.

You can then use a scoop to remove the litter that has been urinated on, leaving the rest to clean later. Just remember that, somewhere in that tray, your cat has buried at least one poop.

As Pet Health Network explains, failing to clean a cat’s litter box can be hazardous to their health. If your cat’s litter is dirty, your cat will smell it.

This will make your cat reluctant to use their litter box. They won’t necessarily want to eliminate outside the box either, though. As a result, your cat will hold on until they cannot wait any longer.  This can cause urinary tract infections and cystitis.

If you don’t, cats will take it upon themselves to clean their litter box. That means lots of kicking litter out of the box, onto the floor. You know what happens next by now. A confused cat that thinks the floor smells like litter, and scratches to bury the scent.

Cats that scratch the floor after pooping are not doing so to be destructive. They are acting on instinct, which is something that no feline can ignore. Certain feline behaviors are hardwired, and cannot be changed. Hiding their waste is one of these.

What can be done is helping your cat feel like they have successfully hidden their presence. This will keep your pet happy, and your floor safe from the attention of their claws.

Temper these instincts by creating a hospitable litter box for your pet. If your cat’s litter box meets their needs, they do not need to scratch the floor.