Why is My Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box?
If your cat is pooping outside the litter box, it can be messy and frustrating for you. But it may also be a sign of distress or even illness in your cat, so it’s important to pay attention and figure out why your cat is pooping outside of the litter box. Here are some of the things to look for.
Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box: How Far Outside the Litter Box?
If your cat is attempting to use the litter box on a regular basis, but “missing” a little bit, pooping near or just outside the litter box, here are some things to try.
Get a larger litter box
A litter box should be at least one and a half times the length of your cat. If a litter box is too small, the cat may be missing because they don’t fit comfortably. If your litter box seems large enough, but your cat is still missing it, try a larger box anyway and see if that makes them more comfortable.
Clean the litter box more often
A litter box should be scooped out every day, and cleaned weekly. If a litter box is dirty, a cat may be reluctant to use it, because they don’t want to get their feet dirty. A cat may be pooping near or just outside the box because they know that it’s the right place, but it isn’t clean enough for them to use.
Get an additional litter box
As a rule, you should have a litter box for every cat in the house. If you have multiple cats sharing a box, it may get dirty too quickly, or make a cat reluctant to use it.
If your cat is pooping far away from the litter box, here are some things to try:
- Put the litter box closer to the area. For example, if the litter box is downstairs, through the bathroom and inside the utility closet, it may simply be too far away for your cat to want to use it. There should be a litter box on every floor of your home, but you also may need to move the litter box closer to the area where your cat spends most of their time
- If your cat is pooping far away from the litter box, in the same place over and over, try putting a litter box in that exact spot
Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box: Is This a New Behavior?
If you have a new kitten, or have adopted a cat from outdoors, they may be pooping outside of the litter box because they aren’t fully trained to use it yet. If your new cat is pooping outside the litter box, here are some things to try.
Keep the area around the litter box clean
Some cat litters scatter easily, and some cats are enthusiastic diggers. If the area around and near the litter box also has a lot of litter on it, it may confuse a cat and lead them to poop outside the box.
Place the cat inside the box after meals, exercise, and sleep time
Most cats have an impulse to poop after eating, sleeping, or playing. Reinforce their litter training by putting them in the box at those times.
If your cat has been reliably using the litter box for a long time, but suddenly stops, and starts pooping outside the box, it may be a cause for concern. Here are some things to be aware of:
Have you changed anything about the cat’s litter box?
If a cat is pooping outside of a litter box, it may be a response to a change in cat litter or box placement, and you may simply need to go back to the litter habits they are used to.
Some cats may stop using a litter box if you have added a new cat to the household and they suddenly have to share it, but this may also be a reaction to a litter box that simply gets dirtier faster with two cats. If a cat suddenly stops using a litter box after you have changed something about it, you may need to go back to what they prefer.
Has anything else in the cat’s environment changed?
Some cats poop as a reaction to stress, and a cat suddenly pooping outside of the litter box may be a reaction to a new person, pet, or other environmental factors.
Is the cat otherwise eating, sleeping, and behaving normally?
If a cat suddenly stops pooping in the litter box, and you aren’t aware of any environmental changes that may have triggered it, it may be a sign of illness.
If your cat starts pooping outside of the litter box when they haven’t in the past, and you haven’t changed the litter box or cat litter, it’s always a good idea to take the cat to the vet for a checkup. Any change in elimination habits may be a symptom of an illness, and it’s better to check early.