Pooping Outside the Box
On Cat Lovers Only, Colleen of Townsend, MA asked about her cat’s excreting behavior: My cat is 4 and 1/2 and is fixed. She is pooping right outside the litter box door. We had the litter box in the dining room, but when she kept doing it we moved it to a different location. I showed my cat the new location, but my cat kept pooping in the same spot, in the dining room. Then a week later, she started peeing on the floor. I put a towel on it and let it soak up. When I got back to it there was more pee on it. I have caught my cat in action, I saw her trying to scratch the pee and poop up and I scolded her. Please help !!!
I’m sorry to hear that your cat is having problems, Colleen. First off, it doesn’t help to scold her and it may just add to her stress level.
Second, it sounds like she’s escalating. She started out pooping outside the box, but now she’s peeing outside the box too. I’m assuming she’s healthy, but if her problem is physical, she needs to see the vet.
The problem may have been made worse by moving the box. Generally, if a cat has been using a box regularly but then starts using the floor next to it, then she may be perfectly OK with the location of the box.
Moving the box away from the location she’s used to may confuse her and is not something I would do.
If the area of the floor she’s using is not thoroughly cleaned, or if she’s got a location preference (where the box has always been), then she may return to that same location and poop on the floor again.
What I would have done was cleaned up the area using an enzyme based cleaner, possibly covered it with plastic, and left the litter box where it was. Then, I would have set up a second box fresh for her somewhere else.
You mentioned a litter box door. I assume that means it’s a hooded box with a swinging door? In any case, have you tried removing the door/hood to see if she would like an open box better?
Have you changed litters or the cleaning schedule of the box recently?
Is the box old-ish? Perhaps it’s time for a brand new box as the plastic has absorbed odors that only a cat’s nose would object to?
Has anything changed in her life in the last few months prior to this starting? Visitors? A change of schedules or routines? New furniture? Anything?
Here’s what I would do:
I’d clean the floor area thoroughly and clean the box as well and fill it with fresh litter of a brand that she’s always used. I’d cover the area with plastic and move the box back to where it was.
I’d get a new box (and leave it open, not covered) and set that up next to the old box, right on top of where she’s been pooping on the floor.
Give her the choice and see what happens. If she uses the new box, then I’d throw the old box away and get yet another box and have two boxes in the house.
I hope that helps.
I agree with Kurt. I also applaud the great advice left in a comment by Steven: We had the igloo style litter box for our cat. He used it from day one. Three years later, he started doing the same thing as yours. Turns out, he no longer liked the confined space.
We now use two litter boxes in different locations. We use the Rubbermaid under-the-bed style storage containers with out the lids of course. About 5 inches high, 28 inches in length, 24 inches wide.
If you do not have the room, make the room. Use one of your children’s bedrooms if you have to. Switch the commercial clay litter to The World’s Best Cat Litter. It will be money well spent.
Make sure you remove all traces of odor from the flooring too or she will just continue her newly-discovered bad habit.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not use clay litter. It is not good for cats, for so many reasons. The applicable reason is because such litters usually come strongly scented, which is a big turnoff to cats. Their noses are far more sensitive to ours and they deserve unscented litter. If you feel you have to use a scented litter to cover up the smell of poop, then the cat is not eating the correct food. Properly fed cats do not have stinky poop. This is because their bodies are able to digest most of what they consume and the result is small, hard, odorless poop.
Thanks for reading, and please continue to tune in for purr-fectly useful cat information!