You know you’re a real cat owner when you start to fuss over the grossest habits—like bathroom use. But knowing what’s normal for cats can help you understand some of the weird things about a cat’s behavior, including the way they pee and poop. Although cats can have an all-in-one-trip approach to the litter box, that’s not the most common behavior.
In fact, most cats prefer to pee and poop in separate trips or even in separate litter boxes. So, if you notice your cat coming to the litter box for one use and then leaving and returning minutes later for the other, don’t be alarmed. It’s normal, and there’s no reason to be worried.
Do Cats Pee and Poop out of the Same Hole?
Cats don’t pee and poop out of the same hole. Like most mammals, cats have a separate urethra and anus. However, there is one slight difference from human anatomy. Female cats don’t have a separation between their urethra and vaginal opening, so they mate and pee out of the same hole.
Why Cats Prefer Separation
Cats prefer separating their waste for a few different reasons. One is cleanliness. Cats usually dig to bury their waste, and it isn’t fun for them to be digging in wet, gross dirt or litter. Cats generally like to have their waste contained in a few distinct spots, but they also don’t like to be immediately digging through what they just left behind. So, your cat might wait a few minutes and leave the box to give it some time to dry out.
Cats also view their waste as a way to communicate. Urination and defecation are both methods of scent-marking that can help them mark territory. Spacing it out is good for keeping the markers fresh. However, cats bury their waste in part as a sign of respect for others (cats and humans) who also share their “territory.” If your cat is usually a tidy burier, he’s probably not treating the litter box as a territory marker.
Instinct and Preference
Ultimately, a lot comes down to preference. Not every cat prefers to separate out bathroom trips, which suggests that it might just be a habit many cats have without conveying a big advantage.
The Two Litter Box Trick
Knowing that cats prefer to separate pee and poop can also lead to a more practical application for some owners. You might notice that your cat is fairly consistent with using the litter box for one but not the other. This might be because your cat is extra fastidious and prefers not to pee and poop in the same place. If this is the case, adding a second litter box a little way away from the first one might be a solution. This will give your cat one spot for each function, making it more likely your cat will do his business in a safe place.
Cats and their habits are fascinatingly different from humans, and this is one way. Some cats have silly habits, like leaving the litter box only to return immediately, and others even insist on having two litter boxes. But luckily, all this is pretty normal behavior that doesn’t signal a health problem.
Featured Image Credit: Mr.Piya Meena, Shutterstock