If there is one distinct advantage to owning a cat, that would be the fact that you do not have to go out and let your pet do his business. Cats do not need to be trained to use litter boxes as they usually know instinctively how to use one. That is why it often comes as a surprise for cat owners to find their pets poop outside of the litter box.
Why my cat is pooping in the house all of a sudden?
There is not a single reason why a cat poops in the house all of a sudden. If your cat knows how to use his litter box and then all of a sudden, he refuses to use it, here are a few potential reasons that you can explore.
Sometimes, when a cat poops everywhere else except the litter box, that behavior may be a symptom of a health problem. For example, if you have recently changed your cat’s brand of food, hi may get an upset stomach. Perhaps his intent was to relieve himself inside the litter box but was not able to get in on time inside the litter box, hence the accident you are now forced to deal with.
Or maybe your cat is constipated which can also cause him to defecate outside the litter box.
As with most odd cat behaviors, you need to look at the context. Watch out for other clues to determine the cause for this behavior.
Litter box issues
The combination of your cat’s fastidiousness and sensitive nature can also lead to inappropriate defecation.
For example, cats will ignore their litter boxes if they feel that the box is dirty. Perhaps you forgot to clean the litter box or failed to replace the litter. Or maybe you did not clean the litter box properly and your pet can still smell the lingering scent of old urine or bleach. Some cats will even refuse to use a litter box if you change the brand of litter that you use.
Location is another litter box-related issue that can lead to inappropriate defecation. Simply put, cats want privacy and security when pooping. They can feel vulnerable to attacks, whether real or imagined, when they are doing their business inside the litter box. If they do not feel comfortable inside the litter box, they do their thing elsewhere.
If you own two or more cats, one of them might refuse to use the litter box because they feel that it is dirty after the other one used it.
With their sensitive natures and penchant for routines, it does not take much to stress a cat out. And a stressed cat can exhibit unusual behavior, including pooping in the house.
Once you have ruled out health and litter box issues, the next thing that you need to do to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s unwanted behavior is to check what has changed.
Perhaps you have added a new member to your household, like a baby or a new pet. Or maybe your work shift has changed and you are now working late nights instead of your usual schedule. Moving to a new home can also make your cat lose his bearings.
How to prevent your cat’s inappropriate pooping
It can be frustrating to clean up after your cat after he defecates outside of the litter box. But for every action, there is an underlying problem. And for every problem, there is a solution. If you want to prevent this unwanted behavior from your pet, here are a few things that you can do.
Check for health issues
Observe your cat’s behavior. If his stomach is upset because of the new food that you give him, it should resolve on its own in a couple of days. But if your cat is still suffering from diarrhea for a few days, you should visit the vet.
Ditto with constipation. If your cat seems to be in obvious pain while pooping, she needs immediate attention.
Be sure to share your observations with the vet so that he can pinpoint the underlying problem, be it health or behavior-related.
Prevent your cat from accessing the last place he pooped
After cleaning the area where your cat last pooped, the next step that you need to take is to prevent him from going to that area. When your cat poops outside the litter box, he can still smell the scent in that area. In turn, that can encourage him to use that place again for defecation.
You can eliminate the scent by using an enzymatic cleaner. Additionally, you can cover the spot with a sheet of aluminum foil. Cats dislike the texture and feel of aluminum foil on their feet.
These tricks are also perfect if you are encouraging a new cat to use the litter box.
Fix litter box-related problems
It can take little to prevent your cat from using the litter box. To prevent litter box-related issues from causing unwanted defecation in your home, follow the following guidelines:
As a rule of thumb, you should have one litter box per cat and one extra. If you have one cat, that means that you should have two litter boxes. And if you have two cats, that means that you should buy three. Following this tip ensures that your pet has a litter box that he can use if it is occupied or if he thinks that one litter box is dirty.
2. Consider other types of litter boxes
If your cat is pooping in your home because he feels that his litter box cannot provide him with the privacy he needs, you might want to consider investing in a covered litter box.
However, make sure that you buy one that is appropriate for your pet’s size. You may also need to test if your cat likes it.
Another option you can explore are self-cleaning litter boxes that eliminate all the hassle associated with conventional boxes. However, you will need to find a location that has access to the plumbing and electrical requirements of this box. Also, some cats may be put off by a self-cleaning box’s features.
3. Stick to a particular brand of litter
Initially, you will need to experiment with a brand of litter that suits your and your cat’s needs. But once you find a specific litter that your cat likes, it is best to stick with that brand as much as possible. This will prevent your cat from avoiding using his litter box.
4. Pick the right location
Some cat owners put litter boxes in a faraway location to prevent odors from circulating around the home. Although that is not necessarily a bad thing, accessibility and your cat’s comfort should not be compromised.
First, you have to make sure that your cat has privacy when using his litter box. Second, factor in your pet’s convenience, especially if you have a kitten or a senior cat.
Avoid placing the litter box in an area that can get too hot or too noisy. Your cat will avoid using the litter box if he is too nervous to go near the area where the box is located.
Cats dislike eating near the place where they pee and poop. As such, do not place the litter box near the feeding station.
Make sure that the litter box is always accessible. That can mean keeping the door always open in the room where the box is placed. You should also avoid putting a litter box upstairs, especially if your pet has mobility issues. The better option would be to keep one box downstairs and another upstairs.
5. Clean the box regularly
There is no strict guideline on how often you should clean the litter box. Instead, you need to factor in the number of cats you have, the type of litter you use, and the number of litter boxes you have in the house.
As for replacing the litter, you should replace it at least twice a week. Again, factor in your unique circumstance at home. Be sure to clean the litter box every time you change the litter.
Try to understand your cat
Understandably, you are frustrated with your cat. However, you should resist the urge to admonish and punish your cat. You will only diminish the trust that you have built between you. Instead, find the underlying cause of this bad behavior and proceed accordingly, with patience and understanding.
Image: istockphoto.com / krblokhin