Defaecation most often occurs in a quiet, hidden location and usually comprises five behavioural components:
1. The cat will first of all sniff the substrate it intends to defaecate in.
2. Then it will dig a hole into the substrate in which to deposit the faeces utilising one or both of the forelegs for this. The size and depth of the hole will vary with individual preference.
3. The cat will then lower its hindquarters into a squatting position over the scraped hole while defaecating, with the tail held off the ground and away from the body. The back is rounded while the cat is squatting to defaecate, this is in contrast to the relatively straight back of a cat that is squatting to urinate.
4. After defaecation, the cat will turn its body around to enable it to sniff the faeces.
5. Then the cat will bury or attempt to cover the faeces with the substrate, by scraping it with a forepaw. It is most common for only one forepaw to be used at a time to scrape, although a cat may alternate between forepaws during one cover attempt.
The cat may also alternate between sniffing and scraping.
However, not all of the behaviours in this sequence will be shown by all cats, e.g. some cats do not sniff the area before defaecation or cover the faeces afterwards. For some cats, they may leave the defaecated area for a short while without covering and return later to cover the faeces.