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Pooping Outside the Litter Box

pooping outside the litter box

Your cat may diligently urinate in the box but what do you do if she decides she’d rather leave her solid deposits somewhere else? It can be very confusing for a cat guarian when the cat faithfully uses the box for one function but refuses to use it for the other.

Rule Out Medical Issues

Even if you’re absolutely certain that the problem is behavioral, you need to have your cat examined by the veterinarian to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical problem. There are a number of medical issues that could be causing your cat to feel uncomfortable about pooping in the box. If she experiences constipation, for example, she may associate the box with her discomfort and attempt to go somewhere else. If your cat is older and has arthritis, it may be difficult for her to perch on the litter substrate in order to eliminate solids. If you have a covered litter box, she may feel cramped in there while perching in position to poop.

There are a number of intestinal problems (inflammatory bowel disease for example) that commonly result in cats defecating outside of the box. The cat may experience cramping and the discomfort causes her to try to eliminate wherever she is at the time. She may also become so uncomfortable that she can’t make it to the box.

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When you take your cat to the veterinarian, try to bring along a sample of her stool so the veterinarian can run some tests and also examine the appearance (for signs of blood, mucous, hair, etc). If you’re unable to bring a fresh sample, the veterinarian will be able to get one but it’s much more comfortable for your cat if you can bring one along. Just make sure it hasn’t been sitting in the litter box too long. You can also take the sample, seal it tightly in a plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator — although for many people this is an unacceptable option. Keep in mind that the veterinarian doesn’t need a huge sample. He/she needs just enough to do some testing and also to be able to examine the consistency of the stool.

Don’t overlook the very important first step of visiting the veterinarian if your cat is pooping outside of the box. I have lived with a cat who had inflammatory bowel disease and know how much pain he must’ve felt when his intestines starting cramping. I also have a number of clients who have cats with intestinal problems. Getting your cat diagnosed and on appropriate medication (and in some cases, prescription formula food) as soon as possible will be most important.

Survival Instincts

There are some cats who don’t like to defecate in the same area used for urination. For some cats it may be that urination has more territorial connection or it may just be a quirky feline instinct. Regardless, a simple solution you can offer is to make another box available for defecation. Don’t place the box right next to the original box or it’ll just be regarded as one big box and your cat will still not poop in it. In many cases you can put the second box in the same room (depending on the size of the room), but in other cases, you’ll have to locate the second box elsewhere. Your cat will certainly let you know when the location pleases her.

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