Cat Pooping Outside of the Litter Box

Post Published on March 20, 2021 | Last Updated on March 20, 2021 by Jenny

Originally published May 23, 2014 @ 08:08

I got a comment on one of our YouTube videos the other day stating something to the effect of “my cat is a weirdo, she likes to poop outside of the litter box” – which reminded me to re-run this post.

Many people do wonder why their cats poops on the floor next to the litter box.

New Litter Box in the Bathroom with CaymusWhy is my cat pooping outside of the litter box on the floor?

It is not uncommon for pet owners to be faced with the issue of a cat who will pee inside the litter box, but poop outside of it—sometimes even right next to it.  Below are a few possible explanations for this frustrating problem and some suggestions for how to fix it.  If you have solutions to offer that are not listed here, please share them in the comments.  I would like for this page to be a good source of reference for cat owners, so any additional insights are always appreciated.

Consider first taking your kitty to the vet and doing a fecal check if they are having this issue, especially if they have loose stool, as this could be a possible sign of parasites or parasite eggs, pain while pooping, or even anal glands that need to be expressed.

Cats Not Using Litter Box Anymore: Reasons and Solutions

  1. Furry Butt Syndrome – Some long haired cats do not like the feel of remnants of feces sticking to their fur.  They associate this feeling with the litter box, so they try to solve the problem by pooping elsewhere.  This issue can be easily resolved by keeping the fur around the cat’s bottom nicely trimmed so it stays clean.
  2. The litter There are a variety of reasons why a cat might reject a certain type of litter for pooping, but not for peeing.  Since cats poop in a different position that they pee, it might be a simple matter of the level of litter—they might want it lower for pooping.  It could also be a matter of the type of litter.  The cat might prefer an unscented option, such as wheat or clay unscented litter.  You might also try Cat Attract Litter, which is designed to appeal to cats who are having litter box problems with its ideal particle size, texture, and herbal scent.
  3. The litter level – Do you have enough litter for your cat to bury poop? It can be a challenge to figure out – but most cats prefer around 2-4″ inches, and then top it off as the depth drops below what the cat prefers. You can always tell when it’s too low – as they will leave half of it exposed.  On the flip side, sometimes the litter level is too deep and readers have reported that a cat’s hind legs sunk in too far into the litter and the poos would stick to their pantaloons. You can reduce the litter level or change litter brands to a heavier litter.
  4. ScoopingLitter Lifter Cat Litter Scoop Magic ScoopDo you check to make sure that you get all of the poop when you scoop? Sometimes there are very small pieces at the end of the job and they get left behind in the tray. This can make some cats eliminate outside the tray rather than risk touching old poop with their paws.  The Litter-Lifter litter scoop is awesome for quickly and efficiently scooping boxes.
  5. Jealousy – If you have recently introduced a new pet into your home, your cat might be feeling a bit jealous or neglected and communicating that message by pooping outside of the box.  The simplest solution for if you suspect jealously is to make a conscious effort to devote more time and attention to that cat, at least until they get used to their new furry companion.  You might also look into calming herbs to give your cat as they are adjusting, although you should consult a vet before giving the cat anything.  Some cat owners suggest valerian root, while others believe this is toxic to cats, so check with your vet for safe and effective suggestions.
  6. The litter box – Because of the different positions for pooping and peeing, your cat might be having a hard time getting situated for #2 in the box.  Is the litter box too small? Ragdoll cats are big cats. Maybe s/he needs large litter boxes. Consider using a bigger box, a box with higher or lower walls, or a clear box.  A specific type of box for cats with litter box problems, such as the NVR Miss, could be a good solution to helping a cat get themselves oriented to avoid pooping over the edge of the box.  Or you might go for a really large litter box – like the So Phresh Scatter Shield High-Back Litter Box 
  7.   Some people try covered litter boxes, but this can make it more difficult for the cat to get comfortable.  Ragdolls in particular are larger cats, so they might need a little more room to get situated.  If you are having trouble finding a big enough (and affordable enough) litter box, get creative by going to a hardware store and looking for a large plastic container that could serve as a litter box.
  8. The number of litterboxes – You should have one more litter box than the number of cats in a household. So, one cat – 2 litterboxes or 3 cats – 4 litterboxes.
  9. The location – Since pooping takes cats a little longer, a cat might be experiencing anxiety about being vulnerable for that length of time, or might be disrupted by other pets in the house.  Some cats prefer to have clear lines of sight from their litter box or an easy “escape.”  Read more about this and other possible issues in the article “Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box? 5 Things to Consider.”
  10. Constipation – Your kitty might be a little constipated, when they struggle to poop they sometimes feel the need to move around, are poops a little hard?

Cats Not Using Their Litter Box to Poop: Additional Solutions

Why is my cat suddenly pooping outside the litter box?

  1. Keep the box extra clean – Sometimes cats are just particularly fussy about the cleanliness of their box.  Try cleaning the box more frequently if possible to see if this helps.
  2. Positive reinforcement – Sometimes this solution can be handled much like you would handle an issue with a dog—by getting the cat used to their box and rewarding them for using it.  Dawn had this issue with her cat Pyro and solved it by putting him in the litter box a few times a day and petting him during that time.  During each session, she would pet him, give him a treat, and gently put him back into the box if he tried to leave on his own.  She would also put him in the box if he looked like he had to go, and after a while, he started using it on his own.  She switched to only rewarding him with treats after he used the box, and Pyro got the message.  She occasionally still gives him a treat to keep up the reinforcement.  Check out her story: “Using Positive Reinforcement to Retrain Cats with Litter Box Problems.”
  3. Doggy Pee Pad – You can pop a doggy pee pad down underneath the litter tray (it helps when you have a kitty that poops next to the tray).  You can get a 100 Puppy Pads, Regular and Extra Large on Amazon.Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box?
  4. Multiple litter boxes – Sometimes cats want options, particularly if you have more than one cat.  A good rule of thumb is one box for each cat, plus one more.  And in different locations in the house.
  5. Following where the cat goes – This goes along with the idea that the location of the box might be the problem.  If you find that your cat is pooping in the same spot outside of the litter box, such as on a certain rug or by a window, think about moving the box to that location to see if the cat will start to use the box there.

If you have had success getting your cat to poop in the litter box using techniques other than these, please feel free to share them in a comment below!

September 3, 2016

“Dear Jenny,

Several months ago I wrote to you about Mr. Bentley. At the time he was ten months old. When Mr. Bentley became a member of our family, he was so precious and still is. The only problem we encountered was his bathroom habits. He urinated in the litter box (thankfully) but when it came to pooping, well he thought the floor in front of the litter box was the best place for that!!!! So, I wrote to you hoping you would be able to solve that problem. You gave us several suggestions, but we had either tried those or they did not apply. Then I was reading one of the Newsletters and at the bottom, it had recommendations for certain products. One of them was “Cat Attract Litter”. We went to Petco and purchased a bag and tried it out. Well, I am so happy to report that Mr. Bentley has become a very good boy!!! For two months now he has
had no accidents. Thank you, Jenny, for helping us solve our problem. We are a very happy family now!!!

Happy Parents”

Want to learn more about our favorite litter boxes and must-have littler tools? Check out this page. 

 

And here are some more posts you might want to read: 

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17 thoughts on “Cat Pooping Outside of the Litter Box

  1. David Ritchie says:

    Hi I’m new to keeping a ragdoll as a pet but I collected my 1st 1 2 weeks ago and will be collecting another 1 tonight. The 1 that I have is a female ragdoll and I got her at 8 weeks old and she is 10 weeks now. I’ve only had 1 litter box issue as my kitten always uses the litter tray unless I let her into my bedroom to sleep with me. As soon as she jumps up on the bed she has a wee on my bed and soon after she will have a poo. She doesn’t even look for a litter tray to use it’s as if this is her chosen place to go and then by the morning there is usually another poo left on my bed. She has to go to the kitchen to get to her food. I’ve tried putting a towel down on the bed next to me where she usually goes 1st but it made no difference, I was in bed awake and as soon as she jumped up onto the bed she went for a pee on the towel then very soon after again while I was still awake she done a poo on the towel. She does it so quickly there’s not even time for me to put her into a litter tray. Her poo is quite soft but formed, like piped cake icing. I have stopped giving her kitten milk to see if this firms it up. My vet is only seeing emergencies due to covid. I have tried this a couple of times and it’s been exactly the same each time but when I close my bedroom door she goes into the litter tray without any problem. That’s fine but I would quite like me to have an open house and let her sleep beside me if she wants to. Once she’s done her poo she settles down beside my ear and I hear her gentle purring as I drift of to sleep. What can it be? She gets told off but it makes no difference.

  2. SINEAD YILDIRIM says:

    I have 2 ragdoll kittens aged 6 months a boy and a girl. Recently the boy has taken to pooing on the beds and trying to bury it and peeing on the beds also. Although we do try and keep the bedroom doors locked sometimes we forget and again last night he pood and peed all over my bed and the mattress is ruined. I am at my wits end and I do not know what to do. I put a litter box at the top of the stairs but he still prefers the beds for some reason. Any help would be much appreciated, its my first time having cats, always dogs before so I am at a loss what to do.

    • Jenny says:

      Sinead, have you seen this page on our site – Cat Peeing Outside of the Litter Box – what have you done of the things suggested? Have you reached out to the breeder? Are you using the same litter or a different litter than the breeder was? How many litterboxes do you have for the two cats? Is he neutered?

  3. Patti Johnson says:

    ALWAYS A SUPER FABULOUS, PAWESOME & HELPFUL RE-POST, Jenny honey! TYSVM!!! Such great info! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

  4. AJ says:

    My ragdoll Lani started to leave little ‘presents’ for me a few months ago in the morning (she’s 8 months now). It’s usually one poop pellet on the floor not far from her litter box – and she would paw at the floor beside it to try and cover it up when I see it. A couple of times I would wake up to see poop stuck to her behind. I googled and researched and thought I figured it out (I thought it was because she had outgrown her litter box).
    Then I witnessed it happening one time: she started digging like crazy in the litter box, made a pile of litter at the back, then she would squat and poop in that pile. Since her butt is so close to the litter, the poop can’t fall down and gets stuck on her fur, then she would jump out suddenly and spin around quickly (I guess coz she felt the poop on her), and the poop would fall off. Mystery solved!
    So I tried a couple of things – got a bigger litter box ( helped a bit), tried different litter types. But I think now I have the solution – I now only put about 1.5 to 2 inches of litter in instead of the 3-4 inches recommended. Now when she digs, the litter can’t pile up too high and the poop doesn’t get stuck! I change the litter every week and use crystal so it doesn’t get too smelly/dirty.
    My baby is real pretty, but I guess her spatial awareness/logic is not that great…. ( ‘I’ll dig a hole here, but not poop in it!’)
    Sorry for the long post, but I’ve never heard of this happening to anyone else, so I thought I’d share!

    • Jenny says:

      How interesting – I love your investigation!! Bravo to you! So many cat owners don’t take the time and remained annoyed. Thank you for sharing and for caring to solve the problem!

  5. Patti Johnson says:

    Wonderful re-post, Jenny!!! Glad to have reviewed it again. We still keep our girl’s bottom trimmed closely around every 45 days and it helps to keep that messy fluffy butt at bay! 🙂 <3

    Truly pawesome info!!! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  6. Ellen Beck says:

    I have a cat who goes outside of the box. He will pee in the box but chooses to poop outside of the box in the bathroom on the rug almost daily now. One thing you didnt mention as a reason was age.
    In the bathroom, the box is only about 1/2″ higher than the one in the laundry area and the one in the basement is the same style. He has no health issues, he is 17 almost 18. He has a minor touch of arthritis but thats pretty normal so it isnt a matter of not being able to hike himself inside the box.
    He is just old, he poops on the rug (have different style rugs to catch litter so its not texture either) it for us is just something he does and part of having him in his golden years now. I am just glad he is generally healthy, and he limits it to one room!

  7. Jen says:

    In the past when I have had issues with pooping outside the box it was always due to a health problem. Once cat had a bladder infection and another cat was seriously ill with pancreatitis. In one instance a family member had moved some furniture near the litter box that the cat did not like and our cat began peeing on my bed. Now, whenever I see inappropriate elimination I always monitor my cats behavior very closely and try and think like a cat, they are definitely trying to send a message.

  8. Dementia Boy says:

    Jolie is very particular about how much litter is in HER boxes. More than two inches and she’ll poop outside of HER boxes, even though the other boxes may have just two inches of litter. This obviously is an easy fix.

  9. Nancy, H. says:

    I have two ragdolls. I have three litter boxes in the basement, and one placed in the Master bath upstairs. Just out of the clear blue my Sophie started pooping in a corner of the den which is on the 1st floor. My Vet suggested this:
    Place one box in that corner where she is pooping. Gradually ( every week)move the box a foot or so closer to the basement door. After 3 weeks or so when the box was moved to the base of the stairs in the basement Sophie was once again going down to the basement to do her duty. When I was home to witness the “event” I would reward her with a treat. It is a slow process but it works.

  10. Patti Johnson says:

    Hi, Jenny! Great post!

    We haven’t had any problems with this issue so far with our Miss Pink Sugarbelle. Thank goodness! We keep her very furry bottom trimmed (as I’ve mentioned in a previous comment on a different post) about every 45 days or so.

    Thanks for the great info!

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

  11. Lynn E. says:

    This topic is sooooo timely. Max, my 11 year Ragdoll pooped outside his litter box twice two days ago (and yes the stools were slightly loose) and today, he pooped on the living room chair. He’s NEVER DONE THAT. A couple of things: I purchased bigger, higher-sided litter boxes a couple months ago. No problem with those until recently. In addition, I took him to the Vet because he was occasionally meowing when he used his litter box. He was tested for stones among other things and the only thing the Vet recommended was to put him on some special cat food for cats with urinary issues. I did that as well as purchase him the water-fall dish so he will drink more water – which is working great for him.
    I spoke to the Vet a few minutes ago and he thinks that I should have him x-rayed to rule out stones… very puzzled here..

    • Teresa says:

      Sure do hope your Max gets a good report and no kidney stones are found. About 10 years ago, my male rescue had similar problems with urinary problems. After trying many foods and having one vet visit and $$$ after the other, finally found out that putting him on foods that are low in ash (as your vet’s food probably is), did the trick for him. He never had another problem after that. I fed him Friskies special diet (urinary tract formula) and it worked great for him and kept him from having further stones or vet visits. Know that the vet’s diet can be very expensive and just wanted to offer this info to you. Also, now I also add 1/2 can of water to my girls wet food so they don’t have to drink anything else from the water fountain that they rarely did anyway and never ever feed them dry food that causes so many problems and issues. Hope this helps and please let us know how Max is doing. ♥♥♥

      • Lynn eaton says:

        Thanks for the tip on less expensive cat food. The vets food is over the top pricey. As far as dry food goes : Max loves it and I’m trying out the dry food from the Vet that is specifically for cats with unirary issues. I’m going to watch him super carefully and might wind up taking him off dry food completely. He won’t be happy about that but better safe than sorry. Bar none Max is the best cat I have ever had. He’s too cool for words.

  12. Coinneach says:

    Charlie definitely has Furry Butt Syndrome. I deal with it by keeping the litter at a very shallow level, like less than 1″. The other cats don’t seem to have a problem with it.

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