I don’t know how many times you’ve heard that someone pooped or peed in their pants out of fear. What if a cat poops when scared, too? Is that even possible?
Maybe it’s not the most interesting topic, but I’m sure you thought about that at least for a second the last time a foreigner knocked on our door and your kitty did an inappropriate thing.
There’s a simple explanation for that, and we’ll talk about it a bit today.
So, back in the day when my furbaby was still a kitten and a new postman visited us, this mishap happened. I was wondering what the reason was and if I should be worried or not. My little research took me places and now I’m going to share the outcome with you.
Don’t worry, I know that you can also google and find your answer as well (I mean, that’s what you’re doing right now), so I’ll mention Nora’s and my experience through the article too. I know that it’s not nice to talk behind a lady’s back, but my cat poops when scared – definitely.
Do cats poop when scared?
As you could figure out, unfortunately, yes, they do. That usually happens in extremely scary situations and it’s your feline’s natural fight-or-flight instinct. All animals, including us, react differently in these situations.
Squirrels will jump and run away while deer, for example, will completely freeze. Virginia opossums will act as if they’re dead (“playing possum”, right?) and cats, on the other hand, will either poop or pee when scared or when they’re greatly nervous. But why is this happening?
Well, the “problem” is their autonomic nervous system that is constantly active without consciously using any type of energy, whether we’re talking about physical or mental. This part of their nervous system is responsible for regulating a lot of things.
In case you really want to know, the parasympathetic nervous system is the boss here and it regulates digestion, blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, breeding, and your cat’s defecation as well.
As a result of all the negative emotions that we’ve mentioned earlier, this system plays an Uno-reverse card on your furbaby. So, instead of making sure that everything runs smoothly, it tries to shut down all those normal functions.
Basically, the parasympathetic nervous system stops all the processes that are not necessary for survival. So the cat’s heartbeat will increase, digestion will stop and their bodies will be ready to protect themselves.
3 main reasons why your cat poops when scared
Okay, so, I’ve already told you that my Nora pooped a couple of times and like any cat parent, I got worried. It happened the first time when we were visiting the vet’s clinic, the second time when my boyfriend brought his dog to my place and the postman was the third one.
At first, it was super confusing until I realized that she actually felt threatened and well, that cat poops (and sometimes pees) when scared. I’m not going to lie, it was easier then because I knew how to react and prevent similar situations in the future.
So, in the next part, I’ll list all the main reasons why your fluff may be defecating all of a sudden.
1. She’s trying to get rid of the excessive weight
The first of the main reasons why cats poop when they’re scared is because they want to get rid of the excessive weight. Yes, you’ve read that correctly.
When your fluff finds herself in a dangerous situation, every pound counts. Therefore, she’s going to remove anything that may weigh her down and make her run slower. In a world where she’s surrounded by predators, she had to learn how to take care of herself.
So, if you notice that your cat just pooped, and she may be facing a scary situation, get ready. She’s about to flee and find a perfect hiding spot where she’ll be safe.
Sometimes, her fear may be irrational, but who can blame her? Most women are afraid of mice, even though they’re tiny, right?
2. She wants to be repulsive to her predator
I guess that we often forget how our beautiful furballs are prey as well, not only predators. Your cat will poop when she’s scared simply to be repulsive to her predator. Yup, that’s one of her defensive mechanisms.
I mean, would you eat something that stinks? That’s what I thought. When we’re preparing our food, we clean it, remove some parts that we won’t eat or that we don’t find appealing, and then prepare it the way we want.
Most animals eat their food raw and that can be pretty tricky for carnivores. Imagine eating meat straight from the bone, that has feces all over it. That doesn’t sound delicious at all, right? When your fluff poops in those scary moments, she’s actually saving herself from being prey. Pretty clever, I have to admit.
3. She’s deterring other animals
Okay, in case you didn’t know this, here’s a quick fact. Cats have anal glands on their butts that they mostly use to mark certain places with their smell. You know, location marking.
Those little “bags” are full of volatile bacteria and different chemicals that have a really strong smell and they also have pheromones. Our furbabies are using these to inform other animals that they should stay away.
Anyways, when your cat is pooping, whether she’s scared or not, her feces are pressuring these baggies and they release the horrible smell we’d rather not know about. Most of the predators that want to harm your fluff find this smell deterring and they won’t even come close to your feline.
What makes your cat so scared that she poops?
Even though your little warrior and super cat is a predator, she can also be prey to other bigger animals. That is, as we already established, one of the things that makes a cat scared to the point when she’ll poop. But, is there something else? When does she feel threatened?
Well, it’s good to know that any loud sound, unfamiliar people (remember the postman?), new pets, and even vacuum cleaners and toilets (flushing to be precise) can scare her a lot. She also gets anxious and afraid in new environments and for all of those reasons, her flight or fight instinct activates.
Of course, your cat will poop or pee when scared in some extreme cases, but her first reaction may be to run away or hide. You’ll probably find her in particular places where she can observe what’s happening and where she feels safe at the same time.
Besides these three mentioned, your feline’s reaction may be simply freezing in one place or she can show her aggressive side and switch into fighting mode. Even though some of these things may sound scary, there’s a way to calm your kitty down.
How can you calm down your fluff?
In case your cat poops when scared, there are a couple of ways that you can help her calm down. Some may be more efficient than others, but I’m sure that all of them are helpful and that you’ll find something adequate to help your afraid feline.
1. Find the cause for her fear
I know that in some cases, this may be easier said than done, but since you’re spending a lot of time with your fluff, you probably know by heart what can be wrong. There could be some patterns in her behavior that you can easily spot when you monitor her all day long.
Once you discover what may be bothering her, don’t make any quick or sudden moves cause. If your cat poops when scared, she may freak out more – so take it easy.
2. Give her space and time to calm down
I’m sure that it happened to you at least a couple of times as well – you needed some time alone to figure things out. Your fluff will need it too, so make sure you provide her with that. If you can, move her to the room where you know she feels the safest.
It can be your bedroom, bathroom, or any other room in fact. Leave her there for a couple of days if needed and move her litter box and food bowl in there too. That way, she’ll have her own territory, from where she can explore the rest of the house.
3. Pheromone diffusers may help
This device may help your cat feel safe in your home. It’s true that pheromone diffusers are signaling to other animals that a certain territory is taken, but they can also be your ultimate trick.
If you start using it after your cat pooped because she was afraid (for whatever reason), it will make her feel safe and comfortable. She’ll be sure that it’s her territory because she can clearly sense her own smell. This way, she may start exploring your home again and way faster than expected.
4. Show her a safe exit that she can use
Cats will rarely flee from scary situations, but in case they decide to do so, they’ll need a safe exit. That may be a slightly open door, her toys, or a scratching post. Whatever it is, make sure she’s aware of it and she’ll probably stay calm.
5. Remove the triggers if possible
I know that you can’t forbid a new postman to deliver your mail, or get rid of your new pet that easily, but if you can, remove the triggers. If your cat poops when scared, there has to be a good reason behind it. She’s not doing that simply because she’s “in the mood” to poo in your plant pots or on your carpet.
6. Try to help your kitty face her fears
This technique works pretty well with people, so why not try it with cats too? Control her exposure to the particular trigger and repeat it for a couple of days. It may not be easy in the beginning, but your cat should relax more as time goes by.
Eventually, she may start sniffing the object of her fear and get more comfortable in its presence. However, if you notice that this is not working, don’t push it. You don’t want to harm your fluff. Take a step back and slow the process down.
7. Ask a professional for advice
A professional, in this case, is your vet or a cat behaviorist that can help you out. Even though they may not be present at the moment when you’re dealing with the problem, they may share some valuable advice.
There are a couple of underlying health issues that may cause your feline to be stressed and react in a specific way. For that reason, a quick checkup at a vet’s clinic may be extremely useful.
How can I know that my cat is afraid?
This question definitely doesn’t have a clear answer since the answer is individual for each feline. However, there are some universal signs that may show you if your cat is scared and if she may poop because of that.
Your furbaby may simply run away and hide somewhere, or she may turn the aggressive mode on. Depending on her breed, your fluff may start scratching everything in the surroundings. She may also meow excessively and you can’t exclude hissing and growling either.
You’ll also notice that her body language will change. She’s not going to be relaxed, but rather her ears will be close to her head, pointed mostly backward, she’ll tuck her chin in and lower her body too. I don’t have to talk about her fur, right?
If you notice that your cat’s crouching she may be just one step closer to pooping because she’s scared. Try to slowly approach her and calm her down with gentle strokes on her head between her ears. Or simply find her favorite spot and start there.
In case she rejects the caresses, don’t take it personally and give her some time to calm down on her own.
Surely, things get pretty messy if your cat poops when she’s scared. However, you have to learn how to take care of her and give your feline the affection that she needs. Make sure that you remove as many stressors from her environment as you can.
Things shouldn’t be as complicated if you follow my advice, or if you consult with professionals. Good luck and give your fluff a big warm hug.