Cat Poops Outside of the Litter Box

Last Updated on December 3, 2012 by Jenny

It seems like the topic of a cat that poops outside of the litter box, but pees inside of it is a common issue that comes up.  More often than not, someone will write in and tell me that their cat poops on the floor just next to the litter box, but not inside of it.

Recently, Floppycats reader JudyLyn wrote me about this issue she is having – so I wanted to post to see if you guys had ideas to share with her to help and help future  kitties too.

Van Gogh and Voltaire
Van Gogh and Voltaire

“I am at my wits end, and thought maybe you can offer your opinion please.  I like to think I am relatively pet savvy, but I have researched and research and applied what I researched, and nothing is working!!!!!  ugh

Problem:  The older kitten of two was having issues pooping on the floor right next to the box.  Overnight, he pooped inside the wire dog crate in the middle of the dog’s bed.

… the crate is in the living room for the dog to stay in when I am not home (but, I don’t work, so it is not long periods of time)…..the dog sleeps in the bedroom with us with the door closed, and the kittens stay out in the living/kitchen area.

I have changed the boxes (2), the litter (and added kitten attract), box location, and Vet checked.  Voltaire just turned 4 months old.  Other kitten is 3 weeks younger….plus I have a German Shepherd.

The Vet thinks it is behavioral.  Can cats be jealous or have spite?  Sounds crazy, but I am missing something!!!!

The younger kitten started sleeping inside the dog crate I noticed a few mornings ago…. then yesterday morning Voltaire was in the crate ….. now this morning CRAP  right in the middle!!!!  It was a little loose, so I checked their butts and found the evidence on Voltaire….which I suspected anyway.  Van Gogh, the younger kitty, has never had an accident and covers his poop like he is digging to China!

Van Gogh and Voltaire
Van Gogh and Voltaire

The only thing I haven’t tried is a covered litter box, because of course, everything I have read and seen, say that is a convenience for the humans, not the cats.  What am I doing wrong??????  OMG I am so distressed!  I even asked the vet if he could scope the colon and neuter him earlier than six months.  He said it wouldn’t help to neuter him, and that nothing indicated a physical issue with the kitten.  My next door neighbor is an EXTREME cat hoarder and I have tried everything but calling the police on them (which is probably in the near future) and the Vet said he thinks that may have something to do with it????

This kitten gets along fine with the dog and the younger kitten.  He was very cuddly with me until I brought the younger kitten home….now he doesn’t seem to care for attention unless it is on his terms…..usually when I am sitting on the toilet (sorry TMI) but that is when he wants to purr and get in my lap!!!!  ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can you think of anything else I can try?  Does any of this even make sense????

Frustrated, but thank you,

Please feel free to offer any insight or help for Judy below in the comments!

Update! Dec 8, 2012 – Read JudyLyn’s and Voltaire’s Success Story

Mittermaier (GSD) and Voltaire (Ragdoll)
Mittermaier (GSD) and Voltaire (Ragdoll)

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16 thoughts on “Cat Poops Outside of the Litter Box

  1. Bonnie Johnson says:

    Have you tried to toilet train your kitty? I am thinking your kitty likes you on the potty and maybe if you encourage him to share yours he will feel more special. Yes I do believe it is a jealousy issue but then I am no expert.

  2. JudyLyn Fanning says:

    THANK YOU EVERYONE for your comments!! I appreciate you taking the time to help me correct this issue. Hopefully, I will have good news to report soon!!!! Thank you, Jenny for your assistance 🙂

  3. Nan says:

    I don’t use Valerian root, it is toxic to cats.
    Just because you give valerian to a cat and it does not drop dead on the spot, is not poof that it is “fine” for cats. I just say this because it seems many people use that as an example to “prove” something is OK for cats.
    In fact the main active components (it has many) of valerian are Sesqui-terpenoids and Valepotriates.
    ALL terpinoids are extremely toxic to cats.
    It’s the same reason pine oils are so toxic to cats.
    So unless you can show that research on terpinoids for cats to be wrong, (which will not happen as their liver is not designed for detoxifying complex chemicals such as these) valerian is toxic. Otherwise, I do agree with Teresa’s ideas.
    Catnip perhaps may work in place of valerian.

    • Teresa says:

      Sorry I misspoke (late at night and I couldn’t read the back of the bottle), and that’s why I ALWAYS say to ask your vet first.
      The formula I found that worked well for my kitty’s anxiety and aggression was at the Only Natural Pet Store and is called, Pet Alive, Aggression formula. Only had to use it very sparingly because she responded so favorably to it.
      Here’s the ingredients (no valiarian sorry):

      Scutellaria laterifolia, Matricaria recutita, Belladonna, Arsen Alb

      The vet agreed with her treatment and it didn’t harm her in any way. I love my kitties more than life and I would never ever ever do anything to harm them.

  4. Teresa says:

    Sounds like he’s trying really really hard to tell you he’s unhappy with the addition of the new kitten and he feels left out. Since he was loving towards you before the kitten came, he is showing you his displeasure at being second now by getting your attention the only way he knows how – pooping in the wrong places = outside the box and in the dog’s crate. He is showing you he wants your attention back.
    When my new kitten came, I was worried that my older cat, Mari, would react negatively because she is not very social, so in preparation, got some calming herbs at the Natural pet store (valerian root, etc.), and they worked beautifully. She could have cared less about anything and became loveable and even playful. Didn’t use them for very long, just long enough to get her used to the new kitty and then stopped. Of course, if you wanted to use the herbs, please check with your vet first.
    Probably taking the kitty to the vet numerous times is also even more upsetting for him. Don’t know any kitties so far that like a crate and ride in the car to the vet. He is probably wondering why he is getting punished so.
    Lastly, your little kitty is definitely picking up on your distress. Cats are notorious for feeling exactly what their humans feel, even if it is minute, and it sounds like it is like a revolving cycle there. He poops, you stress, then he stresses again and reacts, and over and over. He is showing you he feels a loss of control and by pooping in the crate or outside the box, that is his way of regaining some of it, but then that only gets him fussed at. He also tries control when he comes while you are on the toilet and then avoids you when you try to play
    Try to relax, don’t fuss at him for the mistakes, give him lots more attention with lots of activity to tire him out and engage his mind (like interactive toys with treats), and maybe even get the herbal calming meds. They really really worked on my kitty and hope they will for you too. Having a good litter box is only the beginning because without the other parts, his behavior issues will continue to be to try to get your attention in the only way he knows how. Good luck and hope it goes better for you. Really think with a little more focus on him and maybe the herbals, he will be back to the sweet little guy you had before. Please let us know.

  5. Kate says:

    We went through this with one of our boys…tried a LOT of things until we got to the solution. They included: the +1 box, boxes on both floors of the house, cat attract litter, and the giant size high wall box.

    We finally tried getting him a separate box with clear sight lines and he started using the box for both poop and pee! (Yeah!) but he was still “missing” over the side of the box sometime when he pooped. So we got a box with slightly higher sides where he still has a clear view.

    We also switched to different litter…all unscented. The ragdoll boys have wheat litter in their big Rubbermad box, and the big orange moggie boy (Ibby) has unscented clay in his (clear sight line) box.

    All three of the boys went to the doctor to be sure it was nothing physical. (Everyone was boycotting boxes for a while there…) Ibby did also end up taking anti-anxiety meds for a short time, but that also helped with some big anxiety issues he was having in addition to hs box problems.

    So, for us it was a trial and error process – along with some good insight from the Jackson Galaxy show and various websites. My best advice is to try to figure out what’s upsetting him, keep trying different possibilities, and hang in there!

  6. Karen says:

    Good luck with getting your kitties re-adjusted. I’m no expert, but if you’ve ever watched Animal Planet network TV, there is a cat guy named Jackson Galaxy who seems to really get cats. Kinda like the dog whisperer, except cats. So here’s his website/blog with lots of FAQs and he’s written books too. Check out the site.

  7. Lisa Barrett says:

    Another cat blog I read just brought this litter box to my attention and it seems like a brilliant idea – As for the jealousy issue, I’m really glad you brought it up as I’ve been wondering this same thing. I’ve never read about jealousy amongst cats but when I observe our Tortie, I think it plays a part in her behavior. Not necessarily always but I believe at least some of the time. I wonder what Jackson Galaxy would have to say…..

      • Lisa Barrett says:

        Hi Jenny!

        I didn’t see it on Youtube but in the Conscious Cat 2012 Holiday Gift Guide – she also wrote a review on 09.20.11 but I’m curious to hear your experience too. I would think the box’s rectangular shape strongly motivates a cat to orient herself correctly i.e. having her rump INSIDE the box. I suppose if you have a teeny, tiny cat or one that doesn’t mind walking in and having her face squished into the side in order to hang her bum out the opening, then unfortunately you might be still have an issue. But hopefully that won’t happen!

  8. dawn says:

    Litter box issues- been there done that. they are very frustrating. I would add another box- the rule of thumb is 1 box for each cat plus one additional box. If you don’t have 2 boxes side by side, I would try that. Some cats are fussy enough to use 1 box for urinating and 1 for defecating.

    Another vet visit can’t hurt and another fecal check is a good idea since the life cycle of the parasite and the amount of eggs in the stool can determine if eggs are seen in the slide.

    I’ve retrained my cat who had litter box issues and have had great success with him- here’s the post I wrote on what I did-

    Good luck!

  9. JudyLyn Fanning says:

    Now I tried a covered litter box, too. He pooped teice on the dog bed in the bedroom (not in a crate, just on the floor)…. Removed soiled bed both times, so it wasn’t the smell. He’s going to the vet again in the morning. He did not have worms or anymore loose stool. He is not purring or loving to humans at all now, but he will cuddle up with the dog or the younger kitten. Stressed about something??

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