My cat (a 2 year old female Bengal) has a few issues related to the litter box; one of the strangest is that she can't seem to figure out how to properly bury her poop. She'll go to the litter box, do her business, and then scratch at the plastic sides of the box rather than the litter. Usually she'll bend down to give her poop a sniff, and then give the wall of the litter box another try before leaping out of the box.

Her brother sometimes comes by and buries the poop for her when he does his own business, but in the meantime it stinks to high heaven. She's clearly operating on some kind of instinct (while(poop_smell == true & tries < 2) {dig(); tries += 1}; leave()). Is there some way I can teach her that she needs to dig at the litter in order to make the poop smell go away?

UPDATE: As several answers suggested, I got a larger litter box. It's a huge 1.5" x 2.5" plastic storage tub. And yet... She still scratches at the side of the tub instead of the litter to bury. Previous owner tried to train them to use a human toilet for a while when they were kittens, and maybe they got the thought in their head that they had to scratch at something hard like porcelain?

  • My 7 month old kitty was covering his poo but was covering it to well. I would have mounds of litter outside the box. I purchased a extra large litter box which gave him lots of room to cover and less sweeping for his Mommy. 😊 Oct 28, 2019 at 22:13
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    Not posting as an answer yet because I'm not sure there are any big enough for a Bengal, but you may wish to look into self-cleaning boxes. I've had a couple of cats exhibit similar behavior, and neither box size nor amount of litter have helped.
    – Allison C
    Oct 29, 2019 at 13:35
  • I have the exact same problem with one of my cats. I'm considering buying an enclosed litter box which has a cover, and then maybe the cat won't have any option but to cover with the litter. Feb 28 at 0:09

3 Answers 3


I don't know of a way to teach your cat to bury properly if it doesn't do it already. However, there are things you might try to accommodate it.

The first thing I recommend is getting a larger litterbox. After all, the cat IS attempting to bury, it's just not having success because it's scratching at the sides of the box. This might be because the cat is trying to drag material from farther away than the box is big. I've even seen some recommend using something other than a litterbox for cats that seem to prefer really large areas to do their business. Litterboxes don't usually come that big, but just about anything box shaped and about the right deepness will do, such a shallow storage bins with a large surface area.

Another thing you can try is changing the litter, as some litters are better at eliminating the smell than others. Crystal litter especially can help, as it's a desiccant. The waste gets dried out quite quickly, so it's not nearly as potent.

The last option is to simply clean the box as soon as possible.

Of course, when making any changes to the litterbox configuration, be careful to introduce the change gradually, so the cats have a chance to adjust and hopefully avoid accidents.

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    Many "large breed" (e.g. Bengal) owners use high-sided storage totes, which solve numerous waste-related problems.
    – StephenS
    Oct 20, 2019 at 15:17

You'll be happy to hear that I have a cat who does exactly the same thing. She has the "swipe" reflex but hasn't realized that she's supposed to bury the poops, instead wiping the sides or pummeling the cat flap. Her sister buries the poop for her.

The cat is a bit slow in other ways too, not just the burying. I say this with love but she's a dummy. She often follows cues from the others without knowing what's going on, sometimes doesn't notice that she has gone from washing herself to washing the pillow she's lying on, and seems to learn slower than the other two.

When they were new (fresh rescues), the sister was adamant about making sure it was buried. After a few years now, they've all grown lazy about it and poops don't get buried as much anymore as they should by any of them.

Is there some way I can teach her that she needs to dig at the litter in order to make the poop smell go away?

Not really. Cats bury their poop to hide their presence in an environment (so prey/other predators don't catch on). If your cat has lost that instinct, there's not much you can do to bring it back other than release a bunch of prey/other predators in your house which is clearly insane.

It makes sense for them to no longer need to hide their smell if they provably know that their territory is not inhabited by anything else.

  • "other than release a bunch of prey/other predators in your house which is clearly insane." - where is your sense of adventure? Oct 13, 2023 at 18:11

By reading the situation, which you have described in the question shows that your cat as already taught that how to hide their poop! (As naturally every cat does this).

But simply, it doesn't get enough space to hide or cover its poop! Because according to the nature of cats, they don't want to touch their leg or foot to the waste (their poop). So, some needs a bit larger space to hide it.

The best suited solution for you is to change the litter box, and put another one with larger size than existing one.

Hope this will help!

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