Pooping Outside The Cat Box and Other Bathroom Behavior Issues

Pooping Outside The Cat Box and Other Bathroom Behavior Issues

It’s smelly. It’s brown. It’s inevitable. That’s right, y’all, we’re talking about cat poop. Now, we’ve all had a cat who sometimes struggles to maintain proper poop protocol, and if you haven’t experienced this, don’t worry – you will someday, most likely. It’s almost as inescapable as having your cat jump into your lap as soon as you’ve just decided that you need to get up and do something. It’s part of what makes cats – well, you know – cats.


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Close Enough, I Guess?

We’ll start with a story about Danger. If you don’t know already, Danger was my very special boy, and he had some very “special” behaviors. One of his many idiosyncrasies was his unwavering desire to poop in the bathtub. In his kittenhood, that was the first place he ever pooped, and he kept this up for quite a few months, much to my chagrin, as one could imagine. There’s nothing quite like getting ready for a nice hot, relaxing bath after a stressful 10 hours of day drinking and Googling yourself, only to open the curtain to reveal a steaming hot kitten turd staring you in the face. Delightful.

To this day, there isn’t a clear answer as to why he would do this, but my closest guess is that he figured out that the bathroom was The Pooping Room, and that, as long as you did your business in that designated area, anywhere was fair game. In any case, it’s important to train your cat to use the cat box as early as possible and rid him of the idea that pooping in random places is an okay thing to do. Cats are creatures of habit, and once your cat gets used to doing something, he’ll be hard-pressed to give it up.

If your babe has taken to pooping in some strange places, there could also be a problem with the cat box itself. Is it too small? Is it an open box with no lid? Is it in a “high traffic” area of the house? Are you using a litter with a strong odor? How many cat boxes do you have? Do you have more than one cat sharing a box? Make sure your cat box is roomy, private, and located in a quiet area. As much as cats LOVE sharing our space with us while WE’RE evacuating our bowels, that road doesn’t run both ways.

It’s also a good idea to have one more cat box than you have cats, so that your babies have options when it comes to which latrine they can use. Additionally, always try investing in odorless litter. Cats have a very acute sense of smell, and can easily become disgusted with the smell of their litter – or worse – their own poop! It may seem obvious, but make sure you’re cleaning your cat box at least twice a week. And if, like Mr. Danger, your cat has been pooping in the same spot over and over again, make sure you clean that area thoroughly. If a cat smells the remnants of any Poops of Yore, he’ll think, “hey, this smells like my old poop, so obviously I can poop here again! Forever!” Yeah, we wanna avoid that.


Old Cat, New Poop Habits

But what about older cats who suddenly start having troubles with the cat box? What do you do if she starts “marking”? If your cat is well trained but sporadically starts having issues, there are a few things to consider.

First off, take notice of your surroundings. Did you do any re-decorating lately? Maybe you were going through one of your weekly mid-life crises and decided to throw all your earnings on an insanely over-priced tapestry from Urban Outfitters in a desperate attempt to regain control over your life? Or, perhaps the bizarre mish-mosh of traditions that we engage in during the upcoming winter solstice possessed you to prop up a giant tree in your living room and cover it in cheap, shiny baubles? Well, while this might be a nice little something extra for you to look at during the mundane drudgery of your day-to-day life, a drastic change in environment can seriously stress out your cat, to the point where she may “play sick” or poop outside of the box on purpose to get your attention.

Secondly, ask yourself: is there a new addition to the family? A new pet? A houseguest? Any new, extended presence in your home is sometimes enough to set off some serious cat box issues in more finicky of felines. If this is the case, it’s your job to properly introduce your babycakes to the new lifeform that is currently in HER space.

Lastly, consider the opposite of the latter. Is someone who is usually in your cat’s life suddenly missing? Example: when I moved to Phoenix and had to leave my two babies with my parents, neither of them were having anything of it. Danger reverted back to his old ways of pooping in the bathtub, and Marzipan started digging up plants and pooping in their pots. This was basically their way of saying, “hey, our mom isn’t here and we’re not cool with it!” Cats are very perceptive, and in a situation like this, they can feel abandoned. This is an especially difficult circumstance, but not one that is unsolvable. After a certain period of mourning, they eventually came around and started using their box again on their own. The very same could be said for your cat if you are going through a similar situation. Sometimes they need to “get it out of their system”, like a rebellious teenager.

If none of these explanations seem to apply to you, don’t hesitate to take your smushy boops to the vet. Sometimes these things have a way of fixing themselves, but persistent refusal to use a cat box may be an indication of something more serious. It’s always better safe than sorry!


Pooping Problems In Older Cats

If your cat is a senior kitty who starts exhibiting strange new behaviors with her pooping and peeing habits, always make sure you take her to the vet. Sometimes, cat box issues can be a sign of something more serious, such as renal failure. If this is the case, worry not! Cat diapers are all the rage, and they even come in cute colors for your elderly feline!

As always, remember to have patience with your babykins. If he or she changes her behavior in anyway, that’s their way of telling you something’s up. It’s your job as the cat parent to figure out what that is, and luckily, more often than not, it’s something that’s easily fixable – so always make sure you’re picking up on their behavior. Do this and you may not have to see another turd in the tub ever again!


  1. lol “poops of yore.” I have been very lucky that Buddy is a pro pooper, doesn’t have accidents, and is anal (pardon the pun) about covering his turds.

    But when I got him as a baby he was sickly, had liquid stools and was clearly not litter box trained despite what I was told. For almost 2 weeks after I brought him home, he would poop in the corner of my bedroom, underneath my bed — meaning I have to move the whole bed and clean the spot every time he slung a deuce.

    Like everything with cats, a combination of fixes solved the problem. I moved his litter box to a more private area and, on the advice of some cat pros, picked up some Dr. Elsey’s Caf Attract litter. After that, little Wubba Dubba had exactly one accident — and then it never happened again.

    Also, to anyone with kittens — make sure your kitten can actually get inside the box! Bud was a tiny runt of the litter and I had to build baby steps for him to reach the box.

    And don’t be like me and adopt too early. Bud was going to be adopted out too young regardless of whether it had been me or someone else who adopted him, but I later learned that he should have stayed with his mom for a few more weeks and, believe me, I still feel terrible about that more than two 1/2 years later.

    Luckily he’s a well adjusted little boy and he’s my best bud, but kittens should stay with their moms for 12 weeks at least.

    Cheers and happy holidays

  2. Susan Freels

    I’m at my wit’s end. I have a kitten that was born outside to be of my simi wild cats. I wanted to bring him in before he was too wild to catch but he was probably a couple months old. He’s now tamed down but he refused to use the litter box. His favorite place is in the middle of my bed. Every time I see him start to go I’ll pick him up and put him in the litter box. Sometimes he’ll go when I do that but then a few hours later go on my bed again. I got some cat attract but didn’t do any good. I’ve tried everything. Not sure what else to try.

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