Q: Dear Nora,
My dear cat is suddenly pooping outside of her litter box. Nothing is new about the box. It’s in the same location, we’ve been keeping it the same amount of clean, etc. What’s up?
A: Cats are finicky creatures and we can start pooping on the floor at ay time for a variety of reasons. We’re also very tuned into the smallest changes that you may not even notice yourself. Pooping outside the box is always a sign that something’s wrong and some of the potential problems are medical, so get your cat checked out by a veterinarian right away (and don’t forget to bring a stool sample). Here are some non-medical reasons this may be happening:
- If you have multiple cats, other animals, or small children, your cat may be feeling threatened. Cats are always in competition, whether subtle or obvious, and your cat may be scared to enter the litter box in case she gets ambushed by another. If you have multiple cats, make sure there are enough litter boxes. The general rule is one box per cat plus one more. Make sure you place them in various places around the house so each of your cats always feels safe.
- Where is your litter box placed? Is it in a dark area like a basement or closet? Perhaps as your cat gets older she’s having a hard time seeing the box well. Try adding a night light to the room.
You say nothing has changed about your box, so these next few may not apply to you. But there are some other reasons a cat may be pooping outside of the box that I wanted to cover for my other readers:
- Your cat may not like the type of litter in the box, whether it’s the scent, the way it feels on her feet, or another reason. Try a new brand or type.
- Some cats simply don’t like pooping in the same place they pee. You can try adding another litter box to your household. Place it in a different area of your home.
- Are you keeping it clean enough? Cats have very strong senses of smell (40x stronger than yours!) If you aren’t cleaning the box at least once per day, she may be boycotting the filth.