When you find poop in the house, outside the litter box, this is a perplexing moment. Even though it is known that cats are sophisticated pets who do not tolerate dirtiness in their territory, they sometimes misbehave and dirty the house themselves—but not without reason. The reasons that lie behind this behavior are numerous, but one thing is clear: you need to figure out how to stop cat from pooping on floor ASAP or risk this behavior cementing itself in your cat and turning into a habit.
While cats are notorious for being willful and you can’t force them to do something they don’t want to do, it is possible to make them understand that you do not condone their behavior of pooping on the floor through simple, non-harmful ways.
Your efforts will be doubly effective if you know the cause that triggers the issue, so we will explain what prompts these actions and we will also teach you how to correct the problem so you will find poop in the litter box and not on the floor every morning.
In this article, we will help you discover and understand the numerous behavioral and situational factors that could be the reason why your cat is avoiding her litter box. Fortunately, there are many methods you can apply and to this problem once and for all.
The HISS Analysis
Now you know that there are many triggers that could cause a cat to poop outside the litter box. But how do you determine whether it is one cause or the other? Does your cat have an emotional problem? Perhaps there are some environmental factors that disturb her? The HISS Test will help you root out the core of all this problem.
It is very important to understand and examine your cat’s emotional and physical health. Even though most of the times pooping on the floor is a behavioral problem, it can also be a symptom of some medical issue.
If you suspect medical problems, take the cat immediately to the vet. They will examine your cat and tell you whether your suspicions are right or wrong. Some possible medical problems that could cause your cat to poop on the floor are:
Constipation. If your cat is or has experienced a terrible constipation before, she might associate the litter box with pain. Therefore, your cat might feel uncomfortable when pooping in the litter box and she will try to go somewhere else.
Joint or Bone Problems. If you have an old cat, she might suffer from arthritis. Therefore, it can be difficult for her to jump into the litter box.
Digestive Issues. Your cat might have some intestinal problems that cause her to lose control over her bowel movements.
If the vet gave your cat a clean bill of health, then you should start considering some other causes for her misbehavior.
Your cat might be one of those pets that do not like to poop in the same place where they urinate due to their instinct. In general, cats use urine to mark a specific place and transmit the message that it is their territory.
Therefore, in case your cat has intensive survival instincts, she might feel that it is unsafe to poop in the same place she urinates. Also, in case your cat develops this behavior when she is an adult, then this is a clear sign that she prefers to mark her territory with urine. She is sending a clear message that she wants a separate litter for pooping.
Unlike the previous two—which determined that the cat’s decision to poop outside the litter box were due to internal reasons—stress in a cat is usually caused by an external force. Some causes of stress in a cat’s environment are:
Reason #1: Multiple Cat Household
This is a common behavior when you have more than one cat living under the same roof. It usually takes longer for a cat to poop than to urinate. At this moment, the cat is more vulnerable. When you have more than one cat living under the same roof, there is a feeling of competition between them. You might be unaware of the many conflicts going on between your cats.
This means that they cannot afford to be vulnerable even if they are in the safety of their own territory. So instead of defecating in their litter box and feeling exposed, your cat might choose to hide and poop in another location. This is how she will protect herself from the other cats in the house.
If you recently adopted a new cat, then the resident cat will get stressed. She will instantly develop a feeling of competition. Even if you brought a kitten whereas the resident cat is an adult, it’s all the same. Your old cat will feel that she needs to always be on alert and so she will choose her pooping place somewhere that makes it easier for her to notice if the “enemy” is somewhere nearby.
Reason #2: The Litter’s Substrate Might be a Problem for Your Cat
As we have already mentioned, cats perceive urination and defecation differently. Because defecation takes longer and it involves an uncomfortable position, if the litter’s texture is rough or scratchy, your cat will avoid it.
Reason #3: The Litter Box is Not Clean Enough
Cats are sophisticated pets. This is why your cat might perceive her litter box as being too dirty for her to poop in.
In this way, she is announcing that you need to clean her litter box.
Reason #4: The Box is Too Small
A suitable litter box should be 1.5 times bigger than your cat. In case the litter box is too small, your cat might feel uncomfortable when she tries to use it. Moreover, if the litter box is the closed type, your cat might also have a problem. She might feel cramped in her litter box when she is in the position to poop.
If you find that the cause for your cat’s misbehavior is one of the three reasons listed above, then the next step in the HISS analysis will help you devise the most appropriate solutions to prevent your cat from pooping on the floor. Depending on the cause, you can implement various efficient solutions.
Solution #1: If the Cause is Health Problems…
Naturally, you should take her to the vet so they can make your cat all better again. It would be perfect if you could bring a sample of her stool with you. The vet will then run some tests. It does not matter if you already know which health problem your cat is most likely experiencing. It is very important not to overlook a visit to the veterinarian.
The veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose your cat and tell you how to help her recover to full health. Giving her the appropriate treatment and medications is important if you want your cat to live a healthy and happy life.
Solution #2: If the Cause is Survival Instincts…
In case your cat does not like defecating in the same place she urinates, then the solution is very simple. Buy a second litter box and prepare it as the place where she will poop.
However, even if you have bought an additional litter box, this may not necessarily mean that you have solved the problem. Where you place it and how you prepare it will also play a very important role.
Usually, a cat uses her urine to mark her territory. Therefore, if you place the second litter box next to the first one, she might not like this idea. Therefore, you may need to place the litter boxes in different places.
Solution #3: If the Cause is the Litter’s Texture…
You should pay attention to the place where she prefers to poop on the floor. Does she prefer to poop on a soft surface, like the bath rug? In general, cats seem to have an attraction to the bathroom rugs. Therefore, do not be surprised if you find a “gift” one morning on one of your bathroom rugs.
In this case, try to re-create the same surface on her litter box. Does your cat poop directly on the floor? Then this is a sign that you should not put any litter in her box. Leave it empty, so your cat may feel that she has an appropriate surface in her box.
Solution #4: If the Cause is a Multiple Cat Household…
In case you have more than one cat living under the same roof, you should place her litter box in a place where she can have a better view in case an “opponent” is coming. Also, consider the type of litter box you use.
Think, for example, if you use a covered litter box for your cat. When there is tension between her and the other cats, she will find it uncomfortable to hang out in the litter box for the time frame required to poop because a covered litter box or one hidden in a corner will reduce your cat’s capacity to escape in case an “enemy” arrives.
Solution #5: If the Cause is an Unclean Litter Box…
If your cat poops on the floor because her litter box is too dirty, then it is very clear what you should do next. This is actually one of the easiest causes to get rid of.
Check if her litter box is clean. If it is not clean, you should replace the litter immediately. There can also be situations where your cat does not like the smell of her litter box. A great solution would be to choose a pleasant-smelling litter or one that eliminates odors.
Solution #6: If the Cause is the Shape of the Litter Box…
We mentioned that your cat could be avoiding the litter box because it is too small. Naturally, all you have to do is replace it with a bigger one, and the problem will be solved. But that’s not the only issue your cat could have with the litter box.
Old cats might find it very difficult to poop in some types of litter box. Therefore, if your cat is old and she has difficulties moving around the house, then you should change her litter box. You should avoid top-entry boxes or the ones with tall sides.
Solution #7: Other Solutions
You can also try to remind your cat of her potty training as a kitten.
First, restrict her access to the areas where you do not want her to poop.
Collect her droppings and put them directly in her litter box.
We know that it is not a pleasant activity, but this is a method that you can use to show her where she should leave her droppings and where she should not. You can also use a spray repellent. In general, these sprays work very well for dogs. They can also work very well with cats.
Use the spray in any area you do not want your cat to poop. The smell will make her avoid those areas and leave her droppings in the litter box. If you want maximum results, you should repeat this procedure every several days.
According to the recent studies, almost 10% of all cats develop—at least once in their life—potty issues. You should keep an eye out for the cause. There has to be a trigger. For instance, this problem could be the result of a conflict between the cats that live in your house. Even if you think that you have anticipated your cat’s needs and placed two litter boxes, there could still be an issue—perhaps even health-related ones.
Don’t yell at your cat, shove their nose into their smelly poop to make them understand, or worse, hit them out of anger for their misbehavior. These illicit methods solve nothing and will only serve to stress your cat out even more. Be calm, patient, and relentless in your effort to make them understand—and they will eventually.
In conclusion, it is not impossible to make your cat poop in her litter box. It is very important to first find the cause then implement the solution for that specific problem. What is also very important is to discuss things with her vet in case you feel she has some health issues.
Are you ready to start helping your cat remember her potty training lessons? What do you think is the reason behind her behavior? Let us know how the training goes by sharing your experience with us in the comments section below!