Do Cats Burrow in the Ground? (Explained)

Do Cats Burrow in the Ground

If you’ve spotted holes or what looks like burrowing damage in your yard, I’m sure you’re on the lookout for the culprits.

The usual suspects for burrowing damage are rodents, moles, and rabbits.

It may come as a surprise, however, but cats are also capable of causing damage to turf that also looks like burrowing!

Do Cats Burrow in the Ground?

Cats do not burrow in the true sense of the word ‘burrowing’, because they do not create burrows.

The types of animals you’re probably suspecting building burrowing, such as rodents, moles, and rabbits do burrow.

By definition, a burrow is a hole or tunnel dug by a small animal to be used as a dwelling.

Obviously, cats don’t live outside by choice and are much happier snuggled up on your lap or a nice blanket than they are in a hole in the ground.

This doesn’t mean cats do not dig holes though. Cats have sharp claws that are capable of digging a hole, and often, they will do.

They’re not creating burrows like the animals that live in the ground. They’re more likely digging holes and you’re mistaking them as burrows.

Why Do Cats Try to Burrow?

There are a number of reasons why cats may be burrowing or digging up spots on your lawn. The most common reasons are:

Creating Hideouts

Cats love having places they can hide while hunting and generally keep a sneaky eye out on their territory.

Indoors you’ll see this behavior when they’re hiding behind objects, and even covering themselves up with blankets.

Outdoors, some cats will dig a shallow hole so they can lower their profile and not be as easily seen by predators or prey.

Related Here’s why cats roll around in dirt.

Burying Poop

Whether you own cats or there are some in your neighborhood, I’m sure you’re well aware that cats poop in loose soil (or sometimes not), and most cats bury their poop.

Some cats will put in more effort than others when it comes to burying their poop. For some, this ends up being a sizable hole in the ground that can resemble a small burrow.

They Like the Feel of Burrowing

Cats are curious creatures at times and will do some seemingly odd things. One thing we do know is that if a cat likes something, they’ll do it.

This may mean kneading a rug or blanket, sleeping in a particular place, or even some more curious behaviors – like pretending to dig near their food bowl like one of my cats does!

Some cats that dig holes and burrow and will do so just because they enjoy doing it, it’s as simple as that.

Chasing Bugs

Cats love chasing little bugs and insects. If you’ve played with your cat using a laser pointer, you’ll know how hard it is for them to resist chasing something small that moves.

Some cats love chasing flies, bugs, and other insects outdoors. If they see one burrowing into the grass, they may keep digging until they find it or get bored trying.

They’re Having a Dust Bath

Some animals like chickens and small rodents take dust baths as a way of cleaning and ridding themselves of lice and other unwanted parasites.

To do so, they literally roll around in the dirt and rub it all over their fur, feathers, or whatever their coats are made of.

Cats do not roll about in dirt to clean themselves, they use their tongues to groom their fur as I’m sure you’re aware.

They do roll about in dirt to leave their scent or remove the scent of a predator, however, and this is termed as a dust bath.

Do Cats Dig Holes Under Fences?

Cats do not typically dig holes under fences, but they’re capable of doing so and it’s certainly not unheard of.

So, if you’ve spotted holes under your fence, you can’t rule out it being a cat. It’s more likely to be a hedgehog or small rodent, but you never know.

If you want to figure out if it’s a cat digging holes in your yard, the first question to ask yourself is; “can the cat climb and jump over the fence?”

Cats will usually climb a fence as they’re much better equipped for climbing than they are digging.

I would think a cat would only dig a hole and go under a fence if they were not able to scale it. Or, if the dirt was loose and it was very easy to just sneak under.

It might be hard to figure out the culprit digging holes and damaging your yard without installing a camera.

I’m not pointing the finger at cats, but you now know that cats are capable of burrowing and causing damage to lawns and might not be innocent!

In Summary

Technically speaking, cats do not burrow. They do dig, however, and can cause similar damage to lawns as animals that do burrow.

Cats dig for various reasons; the most common being to create somewhere to hide, to bury something (usually poop), to remove/place a scent, and to chase bugs.

If you’ve been spotting damage on your lawn, whether it ends up being a cat that’s guilty or not I hope you get to the bottom of it.

If you think it may be your cat, take a good look at their paws for signs of dirt and mud!


Image credits – Photo by Vicky Summer on Unsplash

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