Wild cats are genetically wired to mask their scent in order to hide from their prey. This is the reason why pet cats, hide their poop and pee. Ideally, they will do this in their litter box. However, you may notice your cats scratch the floor after pooping.
There are a number of reasons why your cats may scratch the floor after pooping. These include when the litter box is too small or dirty, when you are using the wrong litter or just out of habit and to clean their paws and nails.
We have prepared this article to explain this strange behavior and guide you to pinpoint the reason why your cat is scratching the floor after pooping.
Why do cats scratch the floor after pooping
There are 5 main reasons why cats scratch the floor after pooping including.
1. To clean their paws and nails
Generally, cats are very clean animals. They will spend hours grooming themselves through licking in order to stay clean.
Some cats clean their paws and nails by scratching on the floor. Other cats prefer to clean their paws and nails by chewing on them. They may do this any time, however some cats prefer to clean their paws and nails after using the litter box.
Additionally, some cats may scratch the floor after using the litter box to remove litter particles from their paws. This is mainly dependent on the type of litter you are using.
Some types of litter such as clumping litter may get stuck in between the paws of your cat. As a result, she or he will scratch the floor in order to remove the litter particles from their paws.
2. You are using a small litter box
The other reason why your cats may scratch the floor after pooping is when their litter box is small.
Cats when pooping, dig a hole using their front paws. They then poop in the hole. After pooping, they use their front paws to cover the poop. When the litter box is too small, your cat may be forced to scratch outside the litter box.
This is why you need to provide a litter box that is large enough for your cat. The general rule is the bigger the litter box the better.
Ideally, you should provide a litter box that is as long as 1.5 times the length of your cat and as wide as the length of your cat. That is the length of your cat from their nose to their tail tip when the tail is extended.
This size enables your cat to move freely within their litter box. It lets them dig comfortably in several spots and not just at the center of the litter box.
Additionally, if the litter box sides are too low, the pee or poop may spill over to the floor. Your cat will then try to hide this by scratching on the floor.
You should therefore provide a litter box that has high sides. This will prevent both the excrement and the litter from spilling over when your cat digs.
3. The litter box is dirty
The third reason why cats may scratch the floor after pooping is when the litter box is dirty.
Cats have a very strong sense of smell. A dirty litter box will have a strong scent. As a result, if the litter box is dirty, your cat may not use it and instead opt to scratch on the floor next to the litter box.
Furthermore dirty litter may stick to your cat’s paws and nails. This may make them scratch on the floor after using the litter box in order to clean the paws.
If your cat is scratching on the floor next to their litter box it may be a sign that you need to change the litter.
Generally, you need to replace the litter at least twice a week depending on the type of litter you are using.
Additionally, you can scoop the poop after the cat uses the litter box in order to keep the litter box clean over long periods. Clumping litter sticks to the poop and is easier to clean.
Lastly you need to clean the litter box when changing the cat litter. Ensure that you use cleaning agents that do not leave a strong scent as this may discourage your cat from using the litter box.
4. You are using the wrong type of litter
Generally speaking, cats are very choosy animals. They have preferences over almost everything including the food they eat, their toys and even their litter.
If you are using litter that does not completely mask the scent of their excrement, your cat may choose to use the floor next to the litter box.
Choose a litter that is safe for your cat and one that masks the scent of your cat’s excrement well. There are several options that you can choose from including clumping and non-clumping litter.
You can read our separate article to find out which litter (clumping or non-clumping) is better.
Furthermore, you need to make sure that you provide your cat with the right amount of litter. Some cats prefer to dip deeper when pooping. If the litter size is not deep enough they may end up scratching on the floor. You should therefore provide you cat with litter that is deep enough.
When choosing litter you need to consider your cat. If you are buying litter for a kitten, you might want to choose non-clumping litter because cat experts recommend it for kittens.
You can read our separate article to find out why you should use non clumping litter for kittens.
5. Out of habit
The fifth reason why cats scratch on the floor after pooping is out of habit.
Kittens like to imitate their mother. Their mother may have taught them to scratch the floor after pooping and therefore they will do this out of habit.
If you are using the right size of litter box and the litter is clean yet your cat still scratches the floor after pooping then it is out of habit.
You can correct this through training where you provide a means of distraction immediately after your cat uses their litter box. You can do this through the use of toys to break the habit.
Note however that scratching the floor after pooping is not harmful or dangerous to your cat. It is just an indication that something needs to be done to break the habit.