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Why Do Cats Poop When They Are Scared? The Flight Or Fight Response

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By Nicole Cosgrove

A cat hiding under a bed

Cats are often associated with being clean animals, but when they’re scared, they may poop on themselves or elsewhere. One reason is that when a cat feels threatened, it can go into “fight or flight” mode. This means that the cat will either try to fight off the threat or run away. When a cat is in this mode, its body releases different hormones that can cause the cat to have diarrhea or poop.

There are plenty of theories about the fight or flight phenomenon. It could be fear-based, territorial, or something else entirely.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that cats exhibit this behavior quite often. If you are a cat owner, it is important to be aware of this and understand that your cat may be trying to tell you something. You can learn more about why cats poop when they’re scared by reading on.


What Are Some Signs of a Scared Cat?

The signs that a cat is scared can vary depending on the cat’s personality. Some cats might hide under furniture or in a closet, while others might try to run away. Cats might also meow more than usual, or they might hiss and growl. Some cats might even start scratching or biting people or other animals. One sign is that the cat may flatten its ears against its head. The cat may also tuck its chin and lower its body, sometimes even curling into a ball. If the cat is very scared, it may urinate or defecate.

cat lying on the floor hiding behind the curtain
Photo Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock

The Flight Or Fight Response: How Does This Response Lead To Cats Pooping?

The flight or fight response is a physiological response that prepares the body for physical activity. This response is activated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for many of the body’s automatic functions such as heart rate and breathing. When the flight or fight response is activated, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase heart rate and blood pressure, and they also cause the digestive system to speed up. The flight or fight response leads to cats pooping because it causes the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract to contract. This can cause the cat to poop involuntarily.

What Part Does Pooping Play in Predator Evasion?

Although cats have been domestic animals for thousands of years, they still have wild instincts. In nature, the excretion of feces can play an important role in predator evasion for a variety of reasons. The act of evacuating the bowels can produce a foul-smelling scent that can potentially deter predators. Additionally,  it can create a physical barrier between the cat who is the prey in this instance, and the predator, and feces can also mask the cat’s scent. Additionally, the act of defecating can help to distract the predator from the prey’s true location.

Fearful Stimuli: What Are Some Things That Can Scare a Cat?

Fearful stimuli can be anything that a cat perceives as a threat. This can include loud noises, unfamiliar animals or people, or sudden movements. Cats may also become fearful in response to changes in their environment, such as a new home or the introduction of a new pet. Some cats may also be scared of certain objects, such as vacuum cleaners or toilets.

cat in a hiding
Photo Credit: Chris Yang, Unsplash

Why Are New Environments So Scary for Cats?

One of the reasons that cats may find new environments to be so scary is that they are not used to them. When a cat is in an unfamiliar place, it may be harder for them to determine where they are and what is going on around them. Additionally, when cats are in new environments, they may not know where to find food or water. Furthermore, new environments may contain predators or other dangers that cats are not used to and which can cause them to feel scared. They are not used to the sights, smells, and sounds of that particular place. This can cause them to hide, run away, or—poop.

What Makes Loud & Strange Noises So Unsettling for Cats?

Loud, jarring noises can be unsettling for cats because they can be associated with potential danger. For example, a loud noise could be a warning sign that a predator is nearby. In the wild, cats have learned to associate loud noises with danger and they may react to them by running away or hiding. This response can also be seen in domestic cats, who may become agitated or fearful when they hear a loud noise.

The complex and often unpredictable noises that humans make can be unsettling for cats, as they can’t always determine what is happening or why. This unpredictability can make loud and strange noises so unsettling for cats, as they may fear that something bad is happening or that they are in danger. Additionally, many of the noises that humans make (such as talking or laughing) are not natural sounds to cats and can be confusing or even scary.

How to Help a Cat That Is Scared and Pooping

There are a few things that can be done to help a cat who is scared and pooping. The first step is to try and determine what is causing the cat to be scared. This may be something as simple as a new pet in the home, or as complex as a traumatic experience. Once the cause has been identified, steps can be taken to try and mitigate it. If the cat is afraid of other animals, for example, keeping them separated may help.

There are a few ways to help a cat that is scared and pooping. One way is to make sure the cat has a litter box and is using it. If the cat is not using the litter box, then there may be something wrong with the box or with the way it is being cleaned. Another way to help a scared cat is to give it a place to hide, such as a cardboard box or a blanket.

british cat inside litter box
Photo Credit: Natasha Zakharova, Shutterstock

Removal of the Threat: What Happens Once the Threat is Gone?

When the threat is gone, the cat’s autonomic nervous system returns to its normal state. This causes the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which were previously being released in response to the perceived threat. The cat’s heart rate and blood pressure return to their normal levels, and the cat begins to relax.

How Can Cat Owners Help Their Pets Avoid Fear-Induced Pooping?

One way that cat owners can help their pets avoid fear-induced pooping is by providing a safe and comfortable environment for them in which to live. This may include having a litter box in a secluded spot where the cat feels safe and secure, as well as providing plenty of toys and playtime so that the cat stays occupied and relaxed. If the cat experiences any type of stress or anxiety, the owner can help by providing comforting reassurance and staying calm themselves.

Do Cats Poop Out of Spite?

There is no definitive answer to this question as there are many variables that can affect how and why a cat defecates. However, some experts believe that cats may occasionally expel feces as a way to show displeasure or aggression towards their owners or other animals in the home. This behavior is thought to be rooted in cats’ natural hunting instincts, as they often use feces as a tool to mark their territory or signal dominance.

Why Did My Cat Poop When I Picked Her Up?

There could be a few reasons why your cat pooped when you picked her up. It’s possible that she felt anxious or scared and that the act of being picked up caused her to have an elimination accident. It’s also possible that she was feeling discomfort or pain in her abdomen and the motion of being picked up made it worse.

In some cases, cats can simply have a weak bladder and will poop when they get excited or stressed. One reason could be that the cat is feeling insecure and is using the act of defecating as a way to show its displeasure or to assert dominance over the person picking it up. Alternatively, the cat may simply have been holding in its bowels for a while and was finally unable to hold it any longer. If this issue occurs repeatedly, you should take your cat to be seen by the vet.

shirtless and naked owner carrying his pet cat
Photo Credit: Pshevlotskyy Oleksandr, Shutterstock

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In conclusion, cats poop when they are scared because they are trying to get rid of the feeling of fear. It could be a way for them to release the adrenaline and stress that they are feeling. If you are a cat owner, it is important to be understanding of this behavior and not get too frustrated if your cat happens to poop when it is scared. Instead, try to comfort your cat and let it know that everything is okay. By understanding why your cat is pooping when they are scared, you can help them to feel better and hopefully stop this behavior from happening in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

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