Wondering why your cat is running out of the litter box while pooping? Leaving ‘bits’ scattered about the house?
It’s first important to determine if your cat is actually running while pooping or running after they’ve finished. The former is more likely to be cause for concern, while the latter is a common, and often harmless behavior.
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Is your cat running while pooping or after?
In some cases, it may be tough to figure out. If you notice your cat running from the litter box, but no ‘bits’ are left scattered outside, it’s safe to assume that your cat is running after eliminating. But even if your cat is leaving a trail of feces scattered around the house, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re running during elimination.
A sticky situation.
While poop scattered around your home would seem to suggest that your cat is running while pooping, it’s not always a clear indication. In fact, one of the more common reasons your cat may run after pooping often presents itself this way.
When a cat has a bowel movement, it sometimes gets stuck — either on its way out or in the fur in the area. When poop gets stuck, many cats will react by running or hopping around in an effort to unstick the problem — giving the impression of running while pooping.
Sometimes diarrhea or constipation can cause a bowel movement to stick. Longer human hair or other undigested items in the feces are also prone to sticking. With long-haired cats, in particular, softer feces tend to get stuck in their fur.
It may sound kind of gross, but if the poop looks ‘pinched’ at one end (sorry, but think Hershey’s Kiss) or contains visible strands of hair, it’s most likely the result of a stuck bowel movement.
Potential health concerns.
On the other hand, if your cat is actually running while pooping, it may be an indication of a health problem. Bowel inflammation, GI parasites, and infections are just a few of the many medical conditions that could cause your cat pain or discomfort while defecating.
This pain or discomfort can cause your cat to run during the act.
If you determine that this is likely the case, or if you’re unsure, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. The earlier health problems are detected, the more treatable they are.
Five theories why cats run after pooping.
If you determine that your cat is running after pooping, and sticking doesn’t appear to be the issue, there are a few other theories as to why. Keep in mind, these are just theories. There’s still a lot that we don’t fully understand about cat behavior.
1. It’s a sign of independence.
According to some experts, when kittens poop, mother cats normally help them clean up afterward. Adult cats may be proudly demonstrating their independence by running out of the litter box without receiving assistance.
2. It’s an instinctual behavior.
In the wild, cats have many predators. When voiding, they are particularly prone. The scent of feces can be an indication to predators that prey is nearby. It may be natural for them to want to flee the area ASAP after pooping.
3. It’s the zoomies.
Cats may just feel better after defecating. There are vagus nerve endings in the anus, that when stimulated may cause brief feelings of euphoria. Or perhaps, it’s just the natural feeling of relief after handling a mildly uncomfortable situation.
4. Diarrhea or constipation.
Defecating is less pleasant with loose stool or constipation, even when not “sticking”. Your cat may want to distance themself from the situation immediately.
If your cat is frequently suffering from constipation or diarrhea, contact your vet. It could be a sign of a more serious health problem.
5. The litter box is unpleasant.
If the litter box is unclean, your cat may want to exit as quickly as possible. Frequent litter box cleaning is important for the comfort of our cats. Scoop solids daily. Sift pellets daily. Replace clay litter fully about once a week. Clean the box with water and a mild detergent a few times per month.
Because plastic tends to absorb odors, plastic litter boxes should be replaced roughly every six months.
If the litter box is in a high traffic or otherwise stressful area, a quick exit may also be in order. Try moving the litter box to a quiet, peaceful place.
If your cat is running and tracking feces around the house, try to determine if they’re running while defecating or running afterward. Often, they’ve actually finished their business and are trying to dislodge a stuck bowel movement. If they really are running while defecating, or are just plain going outside the litter box, contact your vet immediately. It could be a sign of a serious health problem. If your cat is running from the litter box after pooping, it’s likely nothing to worry about.
- Cats and Litter Box Behavior. (n.d.). Animal Planet. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/cats-run-around-after-using-the-litter-box/
About Matthew Alexander
Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.