You may think your cat is alone in his frenzied behavior following a trip to the litter box, but the truth is, many cats bolt after using the bathroom. Scientists have actually studied the phenomenon and, while no one is exactly sure what causes Kitty’s bizarre behavior, they agree that it is a normal, healthy part of feline life.
Compared to their canine counterparts, cats have incredibly tidy bathroom habits. The vast majority bury their waste, which likely stems back to their days as wild cats. Though they are hunters themselves, cats also serve as prey for larger animals. The sight and smell of droppings can clue predators in that a potential meal is nearby, so it makes sense for Kitty to bury his droppings. According to this theory, running from his waste is simply another measure your cat takes to avoid becoming a predator’s next meal. The theory helps explain why dominant pets don’t always bury their bunk, too: Cats communicate by scent and top felines will leave their droppings as a way to mark territory. Rather than fleeing from his enemies, a confident cat may be ready to fight for his terrain.
Of course, not all experts agree with this evolutionary explanation. Though it sounds plausible, there is little research into whether cats actually run from their waste in the wild. Other theories attempting to explains cats’ strange bathroom behavior suggest that it simply boils down to feeling good. Researchers site evidence of this “poo-phoria” in the vagus nerve, which connects the brainstem to the colon and creates a pleasurable sensation associated with defecating. Other theories say that the frenzied sprint following a trip to the bathroom may be your cats’ ways of seeking attention and approval for his accomplishment as a grown-up pet taking care of himself.
There are, of course, medical issues that can cause your cat to run from his litterbox. Pets experiencing diarrhea or other digestive problems may want to distance themselves from the problem. Fleeing the litter box can also be a sign your cat is suffering from a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, inflammation of the colon or rectum, or even a food allergy. If you suspect your pet’s bathroom behavior is due to a medical issue, take him to the veterinarian. Fortunately, whether it boils down to instinct or “poo-phoria,” experts agree that in most cases running from the litter box is normal feline behavior.