Cat Pooping Outside of the Litter Box? Get Answers And Solutions for Cat Pooping Outside Litter Box.

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 made me what to do this post. Many people do wonder why they find their cat with these issues today and pooping outside the litter box.

metal litter box- Ragdoll cat pooping inside of a litter box

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Why is my cat pooping outside of the litter box on the floor? Is it a medical condition or something else?

It is not uncommon for pet owners to face the issue of a cat who will pee inside the litter box but poop outside of the box, sometimes even right next to it. Changes in the cat’s routine or problems with the litter box are frequently the source of litter box issues.

However, if your house-trained kitty suddenly stops using its litter box, and the cat poops outside the litter box, you should take him to the vet first to rule out any health issues or medical condition.

Below are a few possible explanations for this frustrating problem and some suggestions for preventing cat pooping outside the box.

What smells deter cats from pooping?

If your cat defecates outside of the litter box, thoroughly clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner despite your best attempts to make them stop. This way, your cat won’t pick up the scent and think it is safe to go there again.

If your cat is suffering from common pet issues such as diarrhea or constipation, the urge to go can be strong and sudden, and he may not be able to reach the litter box in time. However, this should be a transitory condition if your cat does not have an underlying health condition.

A skilled veterinarian can help you avoid bad behavior and improve your cat’s general health.

Consider taking your kitty to the vet and doing a fecal check if they have this issue. This is a must, especially if they have loose stool, as this could be a possible sign of:

  • Parasites
  • Parasite eggs
  • Pain while pooping
  • Anal glands that need to be cleaned

If a health issue is present, medically treat it right away.

If your veterinarian concludes that a physical condition does not cause the problem, she may investigate whether your cat has a behavioral issue. You can discuss behavioral issues, even if you receive a confirmation of good health for your feline friend.

Even if you think your cat is spiteful or if you’re dealing with behavioral issues, you should see your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical problems.

How To Punish a Cat for Pooping Outside the Litter Box

You shouldn’t punish a cat for pooping outside the litter box. They won’t understand why you’re punishing them, so it’s pointless, and will only upset your cat. More than likely, it will just make the problem worse.

Instead, you should challenge yourself to work out WHY your cat is pooping outside the litter box, and then fix it. Be persistent and try new solutions to help your cat – they aren’t trying to do something wrong, so shouldn’t be punished for it.

If your cat has a health problem causing it to leave the litter box, you should medically treat it and address it as soon as possible.

If you have solutions to offer that are not listed here, please share them in the comments. I would like this page to be a good reference source for cat owners, so any additional insights are always appreciated.

Cats Not Using Litter Box Anymore: Reasons and Solutions

Furry Butt Syndrome

Some long-haired cats might get poop stuck in their fur. Felines are very clean creatures and these pets treat their bottoms with care. They don’t like the feel of feces remnants sticking to their hair. As they associate this feeling with the litter box, the easiest solution to their problem seems to be to poop elsewhere.

Resolve this by keeping the fur around the cat’s bottom nicely trimmed so it stays clean.

The Litter

Bag of Dr Elsey's Cat Attract cat litter

There are various reasons why a cat might reject a specific type of litter for pooping but not for peeing. Since cats poop in a different position than 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. For example, the cat might prefer an unscented option, such as wheat or clay unscented litter. 

You might also try Cat Attract Litter, designed to appeal to cats who are having litter box problems with its ideal:

  • Particle size
  • Texture
  • Herbal scent.

Make sure you use the same brand of litter each time. Switching from one litter to another, for example, can cause your cat to become agitated. Also, they can tell if the texture and aroma are firmer or different.

In addition, many cats dislike the additional aromas they add to cat toilets (they are full of chemicals). They may oppose the litter:

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Feel.

Too much dirt might be just as problematic as too little dirt.

The litter level

Do you have enough litter for your cat to bury their poop? It can be challenging to figure out at first, but most cats prefer around 2-4″ inches to do their business, and then top it off as the depth drops below what the cat likes.

You can always tell when it’s too low, as they will expose half of it. On the flip side, sometimes the litter level is too deep, and readers have reported that a cat’s hind legs sunk too far into the litter, and the poo would stick to their pantaloons. You can reduce the litter level or change litter brands to heavier litter.

Scooping

Litter Lifter Cat Litter Scoop Magic Scoop

Do you check to ensure you get all the poop when you scoop? Sometimes there are tiny 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 fantastic for quickly and efficiently scooping boxes.

Jealousy

If you have recently introduced a new pet into your home, your cat might feel jealous or neglected and communicate that message by pooping outside the box. If you suspect jealously, the simplest solution is to consciously devote more time and attention to that cat, at least until they get used to their new furry companion.

You might also consider 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 practical suggestions.

The litter box

Because of the different positions for pooping and peeing, your cat might have difficulty getting situated for #2 in the box.

Is the litter box too small? Ragdoll cats are big cats. Maybe she needs a larger litter box.

You can try using:

  • Bigger box
  • Box with higher or lower walls
  • Clear box. 

A particular type of box for cats with litter box problems, such as the NVR Miss, could be an excellent 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.

Ragdolls, in particular, are larger cats, so they might need a little more room to get situated.

Get creative if you are having trouble finding a big enough (and affordable) litter box! Go to a hardware store and look for a large plastic container that could serve as a litter box.

Use a covered litter box

Some people try covered litter boxes, but this can make it more difficult for the cat to get comfortable.

Keep in mind that not all cats like their toilets to be covered, so it might not be the solution.

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 three cats – 4 litterboxes.

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 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.”

Constipation

Could your cat be dealing with constipation, or are their poops a little hard? When they struggle to poop, they sometimes need to move around.

Cats Not Using Their Litter Box to Poop: Additional Solutions Why is my cat suddenly pooping outside the litter box?

Keep the box extra clean

Is your cat pooping outside the box? 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.

If it’s not possible for you to clean the litter box more frequently, an automatic litter box could be another option.

Positive reinforcement

Sometimes you can handle this solution much like you would 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
  • Gently put him back into the box if he tried to leave alone. 

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. Finally, she only rewarded him with treats after he used the box, and Pyro got the message.

She occasionally still gives him the treat to keep up the reinforcement.

Doggy Pee Pad

You can pop a doggy pee pad down underneath the litter tray (it helps when you have a kitty that poops or pees next to the tray). You can get 100 Puppy Pads, Regular and Extra Large, on Chewy.

Multiple litter boxes

Wondering why is my cat pooping outside the litter box? 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.

Add a second (empty) litter box

This tip comes from a Floppycatter – they tried adding a second empty litter box alongside the regular litter box, and it worked. Their cat pees in the litter-filled box, and then poops in the empty one. They suggested it to a friend having similar issues and it worked for them too – so maybe it would work for you.

Following where the cat goes

This goes along with the idea that the box’s location might be the problem. So, for example, if you find your cat is pooping in the same spot (outside of the litter box, such as on a particular 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!

Cat Pooping Outside Box? FAQs

How do you stop a cat from pooping on the floor?

The first and most crucial step is to scoop and clean the litter box daily.

This includes:

  • Clean the old litter.
  • Rub the empty container with mild dish detergent and warm water.
  • Rinse it with clean water.
  • Let it air dry
  • Pour in a new supply of clean, non-scented litter (scented is irritating to cats.)

Use rubber gloves (and a face mask, if needed) whenever you clean your cat’s litter box to protect yourself from harmful bacteria and dust.

Because cats are naturally clean creatures, they will be hesitant to use a litter box if it isn’t kept clean. You can get a specific scoop and bag for this purpose.

Clean the tray/box thoroughly every other day and replace the trash. Remember that if you sense the way a tray smells, your poor kitty experiences the smell 14 times worse. Likewise, if the tray is soiled, your cat will go to the bathroom elsewhere.

Should you use liners inside your cat’s plastic litter box?

Plastic litter box liners may encourage the growth of bacteria.

To clean the box, avoid using harsh cleaning agents, mild detergents, and boiling water. Before filling the box with litter, ensure it’s completely dry.

Because cats are sensitive to smells and can find them irritating, it is best to avoid scented litter.

How to stop a cat from peeing and pooping outside the litter box?

Cats have strong territorial instincts. As their wild ancestors, your domestic kitten could mark their territory using the:

  • Pheromones (which we can’t smell)
  • Urine
  • Feces.

Yes, pooping in different places is definitely not out of the question when it comes to claiming territory. Your cat’s instincts may be altered if you bring a new animal into the house or if a stray animal or wildlife hides outside in your yard.

Your cat poops to mark their territory dealing because of wild or feral animals.

Because your cat may pick up scents before we, the owners, can smell or even see with our human eyes, it might be difficult to tell if it involves feral cats or other wildlife. Make sure your cat’s sleeping and resting areas are both indoors.

Consider putting up a fence to keep stray animals and wildlife out of your yard if that’s what you’re dealing with.

Your cat poops to mark their territory due to a new pet in the household.

If this behavior started after introducing another animal into the house, make sure your cat has a separate litter box. Take your time to introduce the animals gradually to help with behavior problems. This type of shift may take some time for cats to acclimatize to.

If you’ve acquired a second cat, consider purchasing an additional litter box rather than attempting to share one with both cats. As a rule of thumb, each cat should have a minimum of one litter bin plus one extra. So, for example, you should have three litter bins if you have two cats.

The boxes should be placed in different locations. Otherwise, one cat may try to protect and own all the toilets, preventing the other cat from using them. Dominant cats exist.

Make sure your cat’s litter box is appropriate for her. For example, a large cat needs a large litter box. You’ll need a separate litter box for each cat if you have more than one.

How to choose the ideal location for the cat toilet? My cat pooping outside the box!

It’s easy to locate the ideal location for a litter box. All it takes is a little common sense.

Most people will want to eat or sit away from the toilet. Cats, for example, are very clean creatures. So keep the litter box as far away from their food and water bowls as possible. It’s also a good idea to keep it away from human food.

A fantastic area to keep a litter box could be a:

  • Utility room
  • Storage room
  • Corridor/Hallway.

Please make sure the cat can find it and is readily available. Hiding the tray in a small or very closed area might not appeal to your cat (felines want to feel safe).

How do you treat and discipline a cat for pooping outside the litter box?

Disciplining your cat if they’ve pooped outside the litterbox (or for anything else involving their behavior) is NOT a good approach to solving a problem.

Sometimes, a cat pooping outside the box could be due to a medical illness, such as constipation or feline interstitial cystitis. Your cat might not want to behave in a naughty way; it might simply not be able to get to the litter box on time.

If your cat looks like it’s having trouble peeing or you notice that it is urinating more frequently than usual, you should take it to the veterinarian for an examination.

Your cat may suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) if it consumes more water than usual. Then, when it tries to urinate, it can be painful. So, keep an eye on them while they’re using the litter.

It’s crucial to remember that most medical conditions are treatable when identified early.

Do cats poop out of spite or from behavioral issues?

Do cats poop outside of their litter box when they’re mad? “Mad” – probably not. If upset, their litter box isn’t clean, and they don’t want to step in their urine or feces to poop again, then yes. Being spiteful is not typical cat behavior.

But if your cat suddenly starts pooping outside their litter box and it happens more than once, you must pay attention. It could be a sign that something’s not right. It’s not necessarily a behavior or medical issue, but it could be possible. So consult with your vet as soon as possible.

How can I get my cat to stop pooping on the floor? – A Reader’s Success Story

This is a message I received on September 3, 2016, and it still warms my heart every time I read it. Feedback like this makes me keep sharing with you every amazing product on the market I stumble upon:

“Dear Jenny, Several months ago, I wrote 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. First, 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 could solve that problem. You gave us several suggestions, but we had either tried those or they did not apply.

Then, I read one of the Newsletters, which had recommendations for specific products at the bottom. One of them was “Cat Attract Litter.” So, we went to Petco, purchased a bag, and tried it out.

Well, I am 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 pleased family now!!!

Cat Poops Outside of the Litter Box – UPDATE!

I was so thrilled to receive this email from JudyLyn. If you remember reading about her troubles with her kitty Voltaire pooping outside of the litter box, many of you came to her aid with great suggestions.

Here’s what JudyLyn has to say:

Cat Pooping Outside the Box – Success for a Reader Again!

Voltaire and Van Gogh Litter 5 Cat Poops Outside of the Litter Box two ragdolls standing by their boxes
Van Gogh and Voltaire explore litter boxes

“SUCCESS!!!

Seven days, NO accidents!

After taking all the suggestions and information, we have unlocked the mystery of Voltaire’s preferred litter box(es)!! He likes the clear box with LOW SIDES to poop and the purple box with HIGH SIDES to urinate.

The 40 lb ExquisiCat Litter was purchased at PetSmart on sale for about ten bucks!

Voltaire litterbox setup for cats pooping and peeing outside the box
Voltaire’s Litter Box Setup

Van Gogh, who loves to dig, is just the opposite! He poops in the purple box and urinates in the transparent box. Silly kitties!!!

They tend to use only two boxes, but I set up the extra one as was suggested. Let it be noted that I only put a thin layer of litter in the transparent box, which may have been part of the issue for Voltaire.

He has never covered his poop, and I think he did not like the AMOUNT of litter I was using… no matter what, the combination of everything worked like a charm.

Voltaire on a cat tree Ragoll photo
Voltaire

Thank you for restoring peace and harmony to my Ragdoll home!!”

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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18 Comments

  1. I have two ragdolls, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley (the boys). They transitioned from a litter tray to a Litter Robot (Robot) with no issues about five years ago. The tray and then Robot were placed in a large closet in my office complete with a motion-detected light, network-enabled cat box cam, and cat door cut into the closet door. There is also an air filter that runs 24/7 and vents into the attic. I purchased Dr. Elsey’s unscented litter. Everything was fine UNTIL I took the cats and their Robot to our son’s house for keeping while we enjoyed a month-long cruise.

    All was fine at our son’s house. However, when we brought the boys and Robot back home, Bingley began pooping on the floor right outside the Robot. I cleaned up the poop for a while, thinking Bingley would soon return to the Robot soon for his poops. I used enzyme spray on the litter mat where the poops lay. When that didn’t happen, I came up with an unusual solution that I used until I later decided to buy a second Robot. I crinkled heavy duty aluminum foil, then spread it on the floor around the Litter Robot where the errant pooping episodes were happening. I was able to watch Bingley on the cat box cam online as he tried to figure out how to poop in his preferred location outside the litter box without touching the aluminum foil with his paws. I had left a narrow walkway from the closet cat door to the Robot without aluminum foil so the boys could walk to the Robot without touching aluminum foil.

    This aluminum foil solution worked for quite a while, but it was tiresome to regularly remove the foil for vacuuming and cleaning, and then replace it. One day, Bingley was able to get past the foil and pooped on the floor behind the Robot.

    In exasperation, I decided to purchase a second Robot, and now that it is online along with the first Robot, I have observed on the cat box cam Bingley looking first into one Robot before selecting the other Robot to poop. A second Robot along with Dr. Elsey’s unscented litter, seem to have fixed the poop problem. All these accoutrements along with religiously changing the Robot tray liner twice per week and using Lysol disinfecting cleaner to clean the inside of the Robot globe twice a week, the boys seem to be happy with the setup. It was an expense I was happy to make to ensure smooth sailing for the boys…and for me! 🙂

    1. EEK – I would not use Lysol where the cats are! That’s super toxic to them. I would use like vinegar and water or something that’s safe for them.

      1. Thanks for the info re Lysol spray. It is very effective at keeping the inside of the globe clean, but I will search for a different product that is not toxic. Keeping the robots scrupulously clean seems to be key to keeping my boys happy.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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..

    1. 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. ♥♥♥

      1. 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.

  11. 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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