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Why Is My Cat Pooping Outside The Litter Box?

Cats pooping in a litter box has become a norm, especially in large cities and towns. Even people who live in rural areas may not have the time to take their cats for a walk, hence the practice of teaching cats how to poop in litter boxes. Because cats pooping outside the litter box is not good behavior.

It leads to your cat littering your home with poop which may be a bit disgusting. If your feline friend happens to be pooping outside the litter box, then there are several reasons why she does so.

In this guide, we will be explaining the reasons why cats poop outside their litter box and we will also be giving some tips on how to stop this behavior 

Reasons Why Cats Poop Outside The Litter Box

  1. Change Of Environment: 

A change of environment may not necessarily mean a change of house. Cats are highly sensitive to their environment and can sense even the slightest change and they are slow to adapt to changes. Many things give your cat the impression that things have changed. For example, just a visitor visiting may push the red button for your cat. 

Other things like a roommate, bringing home a new baby, bringing other pets into the home, someone moving out of the house, or even new objects in the house. All this change may cause stress for your cat which will lead to it abandoning its litter box when it wants to poop. When your cat starts pooping outside the litter box you should think of even the slightest change that occurred in your home. 

Dr. Katie Pagan, a partner veterinarian with HearttPaw in Fells Point, Maryland said “cats are creatures of habit, and deviation from their normal routine can lead to stress. When cats get stressed they can poop outside of the litter box”. 

  1. An Outdoor Cat:

If you have a once outdoor cat it is normal for it to poop outside the litter box as it is already her lifestyle. Even if she was a feral cat or even spent some time outdoors, she may have problems adapting to the concept of using a litter box. Some of them will always find somewhere hidden to poop and bury it afterward. 

However, it is possible to teach them how to poop in a litter box although this will require patience and consistency it is not impossible. Some of them also won’t cover the poop after using the litter box.

  1. Constipation or Diarrhea:

Some health conditions like diarrhea and constipation can increase the urge to poop all of a sudden or frequently. In this situation, your cat may not reach the litter box before it comes out and this could lead to your cat pooping outside the litter box. This should however be temporary as long as your cat has no underlying health conditions. 

  1. Newly Adopted Kitty:

A newly adopted cat may require a few months before it fully adapts to the surroundings and feels comfortable. Before she adapts to her new home, there is a possibility that she would likely be afraid to use the litter box. 

  1. Smelly or Dirty Litter Box: 

Cats generally love to check a litter box before they make use of it. They put their nose up a litter box to know if it is clean enough. Cats are very neat pets and will reject a smelly or dirty litter box and look for another option that is clean which may be the floor. A full litter box is a turn-off and will chase any cat away from it. 

  1. Wrong Location For A Litter Box:

Cats naturally love their privacy and may not like the location of a litter box especially if it is in an open place. This trait of finding a private place for pooping was passed down from the ancient wild cats to the current generation of cats. This kept them safe from potential predators. So keeping your litter box at a location that gives your cat privacy might just be the solution you are looking for. 

It is not advisable to move the litter box if your cat has dementia because it will make your cat more confused.

  1. Unappealing Litter Box:

Cats can be picky at times. Little change in the litter box can make them decide to find another place to poop. For example; some cats like open boxes while some don’t, some cats can’t stand the slightest noise from a litter box. 

A litter box that is too small may not be a big cat’s favorite, or a litter box with weird designs may make her afraid and uncomfortable. A perfumed letter box can even be a bad idea. So you have to study your cat’s behavior when you get a new litter box, that way you will know if she likes it or not. 

However, generally cats like soft litter boxes.

  1. Limited litter boxes in a multi-cat home:

Cats, even with their fellow felines, do not like to share their belongings. In a household with many cats, a cat can be disgusted because of the amount of traffic going in and out of the litter box. Thereby deciding to go elsewhere to help herself. 

It is advisable you have more litter boxes than the number of cats in your home. Also, place them in different locations so there will not be much traffic in just a particular area of the house. 

  1. Scary Litter Box Cover:

According to Jackson Galaxy, a Vet in the US, a litter box could look like an ” ambush zone” for your cat. A litter box with a very tall side may make your cat feel insecure or trapped. The plastic cover of the litter box may also cause static shock for cats with long hair. 

Read Also: Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop And 10 Tips To Stop It

Your cat is likely to kick the litter box around if she doesn’t approve of it.

  1. Cat Arthritis:

Arthritis is a health problem that affects the joints of cats, especially senior cats. If your cat has arthritis it will find it hard to get into the litter box or grip the litter box (If it is placed in a high place). 

  1. Age:

Young cats are most likely to forget or miss the litter box location often. While they will eventually catch the message, they will likely poop outside the litter box at first. 

On the other hand, older cats may have underlying health conditions that will make it very challenging to climb in and out of a litter box. 

Tips On How To Stop Your Cat From Pooping Outside The Litter Box

The first step you should take when you notice your cat pooping outside the litter box is to first visit your Vet. Your Vet should be the one to confirm if it’s an underlying health condition or a problem at home. If it is a health condition consult your Vet for your cat’s medication however if it’s not then read these tips because you may find them helpful. 

1 Keep A Clean Box: 

It is a known fact that cats are very sensitive when it comes to odor. In fact, a cat noise has 200 million odor senses while humans just have 5 million. Amazing right! So washing the litter box often is necessary. Scrub the box gently with soap (soap with a low scent) and warm water, rinse it with clean water and dry it. Lastly, add a new badge of unscented litter. Make sure to use protective material like rubber gloves and a face mask when cleaning your cat litter box, to prevent microscopic bugs and litter dust. 

Katie Pagan says “while awaiting your cat’s Vet appointment for a check-up, I would first make sure you are cleaning the box enough”. 

  1. Place Litter Box At Strategic Position: 

If you notice your cat is used to pooping in a certain place in your home, you should place the litter box there. However, if it does not still use the litter box even when it is placed in its favorite place, block its access to that place. You can use a retractable gate for that.

Also make sure you choose a place that is quiet, private, and has low traffic to place the litter box. Don’t forget the location of the litter box should be far from the other location of your cat’s food and water.

  1. Get More Litter Box:

It is advisable to have a litter box for each of your cats. These boxes must all be placed at different private locations as cats love their privacy. If all the litter boxes are in one place one of the cats may try to guard all the litter boxes and claim ownership over them all. Cats naturally don’t like to share, so every cat should have its litter box alongside its privacy. 

  1. Make Her Safe Area Unappealing:

If your cat has a favorite place it likes to poop that is not the litter box you should try to make that place undesirable for it and unappealing. You can try placing aluminum foil there or spray the place with a Kitty safe deterrent. By doing this you will make the safe place undesirable and unappealing to your cat, and possibly draw its attention to the litter box. 

  1. Check For Recent Change In Your Home:

Sinnott-Stutzman a renowned pet writer recommends asking yourself the following questions;

  • Have you recently changed your habit? For example, working from home or returning to the office after a long stretch of working from home.
  • Has the litter box been moved?
  • Have you changed the type of litter you use?
  • Has your once small kitten grown too large for the box?
  • Have you added another cat to the house?

She says ” tackling these questions is key to getting your cat back on track”.

  1. Ensure Your Cat Have Access To The Litter Box: 

Most old cats have chronic pain and arthritis, this may not allow them to get in and out of the litter box easily. Sinnott-Stutzman recommends “litter boxes with ramps”. She says they are very helpful to senior cant. 

  1. Get A New Litter Box: 

Some cats don’t use or like a particular litter box because of its design or features. You should try to get a new litter box. Cats have different tastes and fortunately, we have different types of litter boxes available. 

  1. Try To Make Your Litter Box Look Like Your Cat’s Favorite Pooping Place:

You should try to make your litter box look almost like her favorite place where she poops. i.e if sh

e likes popping on the tiles leave the bottom of the litter box empty (no litter), if she loves pooping on paper then fit a paper into the bottom of the litter box, if she prefers pooping on carpets, fit in carpet into the bottom of the box, etc. Read More »Why Is My Cat Pooping Outside The Litter Box?