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Why Do Cats Poop When They Are Scared? 3 Potential Explanations

Most of us are familiar with the expression "scare the sh*t out of someone," although it is uncommon in the present day. However, it does contain some truth.

When frightened, the brain transmits a nerve signal to the stomach system that stimulates contractions and motility. The nervous system also controls the urinary system, which explains why fear may urge urine and feces out of the body. Cats may experience this, and it is generally recognized why animals exhibit this stress reaction.

Continue reading "Why Do Cats Poop When They Are Scared? 3 Potential Explanations" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) for further information on why this may occur.

What Is the Fight or Flight Response?

The “fight-or-flight” response is the innate reaction of an animal to intense stress. It is mostly involuntary, and the origin of the fight-or-flight response is the subject of much controversy. When confronted with extreme stresses, the most prevalent idea holds that the body produces adrenaline, which facilitates the fight-or-flight response.

Adrenaline is a hormone that controls the body’s capacity to rapidly mobilize glucose and fatty acid energy reserves. Therefore, the chemical enables individuals to perform incredible feats, such as lifting large objects off loved ones.

However, a new idea suggests that, while adrenaline undoubtedly plays a part in the fight-or-flight response, the vertebrate response is also controlled by osteocalcin, a hormone produced from the skeletal system.

This study discovered that animals and people lacking functioning adrenal glands (the organs responsible for producing adrenaline) exhibited an acute stress response due to an elevation in osteocalcin levels.

The fight-or-flight response varies between species. Some animals, such as deer, prefer to stop in place when frightened, while others, such as squirrels, flee.

Other animals are more prone to involuntary urination and feces than humans, but this is due to our capacity to live in comfort without the continual worry of being eaten.

If the idea of urinating or defecating in response to anxiety seems absurd to you, it’s because you haven’t experienced a sufficiently traumatic incident for your body to deploy such a response.

A 2008 survey found that one-fourth of combat veterans acknowledged to urinating and defecating in their pants while serving in the military. This phenomena is described by Dr. Sheldon Marguiles as follows: “The stomach is governed by more than the sympathetic and parasympathetic neural systems. The stomach wall contains its own network of nerves known as the enteric nervous system, which appears to respond to chemicals generated by the brain during moments of high anxiety, a crucial feeling for being afraid to death.”

There are several hypotheses as to why cats may defecate when anxious. Here are the main concepts.

1. Making Themselves Unappetizing

One of the key reasons a startled cat may defecate is to make itself unappealing. Predators who wish to consume cats as prey pose the greatest risk to them. While humans clean and cook their food, most animals consume it raw, and there’s nothing more repulsive than a species coated in its own feces, right?

2. It renders them lighter

Even if you are unaware of it, the excrement stored in your body is rather hefty. In a life-or-death situation, the food you consume must go someplace, and every ounce matters.

3. Deterring Predators by Smell

It might also be an attempt to repel a prospective predator by generating an offensive odor. While this activity is most frequently linked with skunk spray and possum secretions, cats may also forcibly release their anal glands, similar to skunks, by defecating.

When a cat defecates, the feces exert pressure on the anal sacs, which, according to a recent research, accumulate volatile bacteria and chemicals that emit a pungent odor and include pheromones that warn other animals to avoid the cat. These anal sac secretions have several use, including as scent marking and self-defense.

How to Stop Your Cat from Pooping When Scared

The good news is that it is possible to make your cat feel more secure in their own home and avoid defecating around when they are terrified.

Establish a Safe Space

Establishing a secure area for your cat should be your initial priority. Choose a room and limit them to it. Because tile and linoleum are easy to maintain, the bathroom is a popular choice.

Bring your cat’s litter box, food, and pheromone diffuser to their new secure location. Cats emit pheromones that warn other animals to avoid them, as well as pheromones that let other cats know they are safe. This may be utilized to our advantage by dispersing the odor around the house.

Feliway and Comfort Zone diffusers release a synthetic version of cat or mother cat pheromones. These pheromones give a powerful signal to the cat that says “feel comfortable and protected.”

After installing the diffuser, let your cat in the room with the door closed for several days. Your cat feels secure when the door is closed because he can now observe his whole “territories” and no one can sneak up on him.

Once he is confident enough to investigate the restroom, you should begin leaving the door ajar. Do not forcibly remove your cat from the room. Let him proceed at his own pace. He would eventually exit the bathroom to explore out of boredom and curiosity.

Move the diffuser to a different room to teach him that the entire home is safe. Wall diffusers have a limited range, so if this does not work for your home, a pheromone collar is an excellent option. Soon, the days of living in dread will be behind us!

Final Thoughts

As has been said in “Why Do Cats Poop When They Are Scared? 3 Potential Explanations” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org), defecating when frightened is a minor nuisance for both you and your cat. However, he dislikes defecating on himself, therefore the two of you must collaborate to make him more comfortable in his house.

A small amount of effort is sufficient to make your cat feel calm and content in his house. If your cat continues to defecate after being comfortable, he should be examined by a veterinarian. It is possible that a problem with his bowels or sphincter is causing him to have accidents.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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