What to Do When Your Cat Poops Outside the Box

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By Sophia Yin, DVM

What do you do when your kitty is leaving little landmines around the house—a.k.a. pooping outside the box?  Unlike urine, which cats often use to spray-paint invisible but pungent messages such as “I was here” or “This is MINE!” on your walls, misplaced poop as well as large puddles of pee usually has a whole different meaning. Basically, when cats poop (or pee large puddles) out of place, it’s for one of two reasons. They don’t like their litter box or they like their new taboo toilet better.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why wouldn’t a cat love a little plastic box piled deep with cat litter and filled with the scent of past visits? My dogs love it. They visit it every day and sometimes help with the cleanup.” (Note to reader: do not let such dogs lick you.)

Well, it could be a lot of things. Maybe the litter’s not deep enough or the lining is a pain to negotiate, or the box is too small – it should be 1.5x the length of the cat. Or it’s so dirty and stinky that your feline has to hold his breath while watching his step.

Your cat’s behavior could lend a clue. If he stands on the litter box edge and drops his duty along the sides or is in and out faster than your kids on the way to soccer practice and leaves his mess uncovered, he may have an issue with the litter. Cats tend to like the feel of finer litters and most of them regularly cover their feces or urine. In fact, cats generally spend over 20 seconds pawing around in the litter. Also, some cats prefer unscented litters.

While “spring” might smell nice to us, to the cat’s keener schnozzle, the blend of deodorizer with fumes of excrement may be an olfactory no-no. Even a whiff of pure “perfumey fresh” without the poop might hit a cat like a punch in the nose, sending him in search of a better bathroom site.

To see whether litter type or cleanliness have a hand in your cat’s pooping (or peeing) problems, clean the litter boxes twice a day and set up a litter-box lineup for a week or two. In this choice test for litter lavatories, place three or more temporary boxes side by side with only one thing varying between boxes. For instance you may be comparing scented vs unscented, Brand A vs Brand B, large box vs small box, and so on.

Even try covered versus uncovered boxes, and if he’s going on rugs, try one with bits of carpet to see if it’s the surface type that he likes. Generally if the cat has a preference you’ll know in just several days.

If you’re already compulsive about cleaning your cat’s litter box and the box is unscented, unlined, and filled with litter that the litter box choice test shows that he loves, then you should look more closely at the litter box location.

Is his box right next to his breakfast room? If so, try moving his food bowl farther away. Is the box in the right location? Just like some people (usually men) who decide that using the bushes is more convenient than using the designated bathroom, cats may choose more convenient sites too. So provide plenty of boxes (one for each cat in the household plus one extra) in different, easily accessible places in the house. For those of you who live in multi-level houses, be sure to place a box on each floor.

And make sure that boxes can’t be blocked by bully cats or other bothersome animals in the household. Also, for older cats with arthritis, try a box with lower sides so they can easily enter. For ideas on how to make the multitude of litter boxes looking nice in your home as well as having multiple entry points, go to www.ikeahackers.net.

For some cats there’s nothing wrong with the box or location. These cats may have just had a painful incident, such as diarrhea or constipation, or fearful experience, such as a sudden loud noise piercing their peaceful pooping episode, which they now associate with the box. That’s one reason why it’s best to keep the litter boxes away from loud areas or appliances, such as a laundry room or furnace. A sudden loud, Bang! or the thud of a detergent box landing on your head is enough to keep even easy going cats away from that dangerous litter box location. Still, others cats just happened to discover a new location or special surface that they like much better.

In any case, in addition to making the litter boxes extremely appealing, make the off-limit toilet sites inconvenient or unattractive.

First use an enzymatic cleaner such as Petastic or Anti-icky poo (MisterMax.com) on these sites so that the faint whiff of past deeds no longer entices your cat to perform the undesirable act.

Then deny access by closing the room off, placing tin foil, upside-down carpet runner, or other blockades over the area, or by spraying with an over-the-counter cat repellent.

Alternatively, place the cat’s food, bed, or even his litter box over the location.

If he’s been using sites for a while, you may have to break the habit, retraining him to his box for weeks to a month or two. Confine him to one room with several lovely cat lavatories. Even train him to go in and then reward him when you catch him pottying in the box. Once he has a habit of pottying only in the box for 30 days, let him roam additional rooms but only when supervised at first.

Follow these tips to a T and your cat will once again poop in his litter box regularly.


For information on urine spraying in cats, go to Urine- Spraying Cats: How To Deal With Kitty ‘Graffiti’.

Also watch for my next blog on medical causes for pooping outside the litter box at drsophiayin.com.

Too see a video of how to target train your cat, watch Target Training Kittens. Once he’s target trained, you can use the target to get him into his litter box.

Further Reading:


Adapted from an article originally appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2003.

Blog post updated: January 5, 2017

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110 responses to “What to Do When Your Cat Poops Outside the Box

  1. I made the mistake of putting the litter box by the main door we used to enter the house. When we entered, our cat went running from the box and after a few times, he wouldn’t use that box.
    Also, it’s always a struggle to place the litter box with easy access for the cats but not easy access for the dogs. We have gotten creative in our design of our cats room. Yes our cats have their own room with wall climbing and plenty of sleeping places but the box (in that room) is large, covered and in a closet behind a shelf with the enterence turned so that the cats can enter but the dogs can’t. It’s not so convenent for the cats but for now they are fine with it.

    1. He was going in the box in the beginning and now since he’s been fixed the last 2 weeks he poops right In front of the door to go out which the liter box is 6 inches away from that and I just found him peeing on my floor I am stumped don’t know what to do

      1. Lisa did you find out what was going on with your cat? My cat is doing something very similar. I thought it might be litter so I changed his litter and he will pee in his box but continues to poop outside the box. Had him fixed a few weeks ago. Hope your cat is well. Thanks

  2. Really fantastic concept about cat poops outside the box. I like to read this concept. Cats are inclined to like the sense of better litters and most of them frequently cover their feces or urine. In fact, cats usually spend over 20 seconds pawing approximately in the waste. Thanks!

  3. I had more of a question to ask regarding this matter. I am having issues with my cat pooping outside the box some of the time ( I do have 2 cats). For example tonight when I came home from work she had pooped in one of the liiter boxes and also on the floor. Their 2nd litter box had urine and the 3rd had nothing in it. I had caught her scooting on the carpet about a month ago, so we went to the vet. They had to release the anal glands and then they started her on a high fiber diet due to chronic diarrhea. That helped the pooping on the carpet for a while but last week I had to take her back to the vet assuming it was the glands again. They got a small amount out. That was 4 days ago. Now it has started again. I don’t know what to do with her. I’m getting so frustrated and I am ready to give her to somebody else. Please help!!

  4. I have a cat name Faisey. She use to pee outside the litter box now it’s poop. It was first o. Any rugs in the house especially bathroom rugs, now it’s on tile. She is about 8 yrs old and she started doing this about 6-7 years ago. It use to be once in a while now it’s daily. I would not regime her because this is not fair to anyone else. My next step is to put her down. I love animals and have 2 dogs and 2 other cats. She will not go outside, she just crys at the door. We have tried everything, new litter, new box, new locations, she has ruined more rugs and carpets more then I can count. Now she just goes on my tile, but the odor is so bad. What do I do???

    1. To even think of ending an animals life because of habits you may not understand or have the ability to control is cruel and inhumane. You shouldn’t have the privilege to have any by animals in your home if that’s your ‘next step’. Get multiple veterinary opinions, take her in and have her checked, see an animal behaviorist who specialize in cats. Maybe you’re feeding her low grade food that’s upsetting her or maybe she has an improper bowel system that needs attention.. Or maybe it’s her reaction to the household. But you better get empathy otherwise hand her in the hands of people who truly care and don’t put animals down.. Professionals and animal rescues.

      1. Juliana, maybe you need some empathy. Your comment was unkind and inhumane. There is a limit to how much money, time, and energy some people have no matter how much love they hold for their pets. Making suggestions without insult is the best way to help people. Anything else is just self righteous people bashing. No wonder you do better with animals. (There how did that feel? Not too nice huh? Try to be a little more gentle with people. Most people do their best and it certainly seems like Catherine is.)

        1. Your statement wouldn’t bother me at all. People are hard to deal with even when “gentle and kind”. Many find that approach a weakness. It’s so much more complicated when it come to people. I agree with Juiliana. If you’re too cheap and impatient to deal with an imperfect animal, let someone who really loves and understand them deal with them. To put an animal down because of your inefficiencies is inhumane.
          Deanna, your self righteous people bashing was a good example of someone who must feel guilty about harboring the same sentiments. Nothing she said was out of order or in the least bashing. The truth hurts sometimes. Bashing is when you throw out all kinds of accusations and names that have no bases in the situation. Wrong is wrong and calling it what it that is the right thing to do.

          1. i will need your home (or office) address, because this cat will need a place to go if he does not stop pooping and peeing outside of the box. i can not risk one of the children becoming sick by this new habit of his. he has been a member of the family for at least four years now, but he is on the bottom of the food chain when priorities need to be given.

            have a nice day and again…i’d love to know he is in a good home and thank you for volunteering yours.

        2. I agree with empathy I took in a cat from a deceased person and all was well until a couple of months ago he started peeing on the rug and now he jumps out of the box before he finishes pooping. I love animals as I already had two cats and a dog but there is a limit to what we can do and take. Be kind no one needs negativity when they are already distressed about the situation they are doing everything they can.

      2. Yea… don’t be so judgemental. My cat is pooping on then couch… on the floor, in the tub, she has taken to drinking out of the toilet…all this despite a clean litter box in the same place and with the same litter as she’s used for years. She yowls at night…she has IBS and I take her for B12 shots every two weeks, she has vomiting issues, so I crush up a special pill for her every day to settle her stomach…this new behaviour seems to me to be less “mood” or “Fussiness” and may be connected to deeper health issues. I would rather get a final diagnosis and put her down that watch her fall apart before my eyes because I’m too PC or squeamish to do the right thing.

        I had to put down a cat a few years ago after she began pooping on the floor, stumbling around, almost falling over…she was 19 and was clearly at the end of her life. So, we do the best we can with the animals we love…but sometimes you have to make tough choices.

      3. I have an old cat who does this. If I put her in a shelter and someone adopted her she would be abused. She is that annoying. I have done everything I can including the seeking the advice of the veterinarian. However I cannot afford to replace carpet. And rather than put her in a shelter it would be more Humane to put her to sleep. I haven’t done that but it is something I have considered. Still looking for another solution.

      4. Truth is, I would have probably said the same thing as you Juliana. But unless you’ve been dealing with it for YEARS, you have no idea how much stress it truly is. When you KNOW for a fact that it’s something that HAS NO CURE, and the only thing you can do is either live with cleaning poop off the floor EVERY DAY (when small kids might be in the house too!), or put her down… you come to a crossroad where what you thought you could never do starts to become possible. On top of the pooping, you are shelling out HUNDREDS each month for medications and all you get in return is cat poop on your ground? Trust me. It’s conceivable.

      5. My cat peed n pooped outside the box just died in my arms on Thursday she was 11 suspected tumor get yours to vet ASAP to get checked out not to put to sleep could be something as easy as a uti or tumor kidney stones.. Rip my Lil fancy

      6. Great advice there…. I mean imagine even thinking of putting the cat down because he poops on her tiles omg. Really omfg

    2. Catherine Walker: Maybe you should send her to a rescue that will be patient and understanding and maybe more experienced in taking care of these types of issues. Putting her down is an unfair and selfish idea. She is a living creature. We don’t just kill elderly people who have to wear adult diapers because they can’t use the restroom anymore.

      1. yah except most rescue centers would put her down exactly for that reason. No one will buy a cat that doesn’t poop or pee in a litter box I’m sorry to say but if you are not a patient owner your cat is kinda screwed either way. Unless you did what my parents did and find someone that lives in the country that will take her. because in the country cats tend to go to the bathroom wherever they want and if they are not declawed that is a good solution.

        1. This response is absurd. If you are having issues unable to provide the right accommodations for your cat, or your cat is no longer the pet you hoped for and is making your living situation more stressful than it’s worth, there are MANY alternatives that do not involve murdering the cat. I’m not going to put it lightly by saying “put it down”. To kill an animal because they are having digestive problems in your view, which the animal likely does not understand are problematic at all, and which may be natural to the animal, is reprehensible.

          Take the cat to a “no kill” shelter, for starters, and they will care for the cat until someone adopts it. They won’t kill the cat for having bathroom issues. Secondly, do a little bit of searching online for animal rescues and animal foster homes in your area. There are many individuals who are happy to keep animals at their home and care for them until they find the right home. Most of these individuals volunteer to do this especially when there are no “no kill” shelters in the area, because they don’t agree with that practice, or when local shelters are constantly at full capacity and can’t take in more animals. If you do go this route, please do some research on where you are sending the cat, as not all privately run foster homes for pets or shelters are legitimate and some could put your pet into a rather cruel and torturous situation.

          Even a website like Craigslist may help you find a new caregiver for your cat. Post an ad describing the situation and see if anyone in your area is looking for a pet who has the right home and the patience to care for this one. Some people take an extra liking to older pets and are willing to put up with these “flaws” out of compassion because they know not many people will.

          If you aren’t willing to put in at least some effort to find a better home for this animal, you should promptly reconsider your ability to ever have a pet again. They aren’t novelties or trinkets that live clean and entertaining lives to please humans. They are living beings that evolved in the outside world and their natural environment is not inside a human dwelling. Please give this animal the respect and care it deserves.

          1. Lion, I am in a similar situation. I have had two cats, brothers, for over nine years. One of the cats starting peeing on the floor starting about two years ago and now is both defecating and peeing in the same spot. There is nothing in my house that has overtly changed that I can see that would cause this change in behavior. My carpets are ruined. I have taken the problem cat to several vets who have seen nothing physically wrong with him. I have followed general suggestions with adding litter boxes and other advice, nothing works. The no-kill shelter that I have contacted will not take him because of his history. So what are my options?

          2. “No kill” shelters are merely shelters that refuse to accept pets whenever they feel like it. I’ve also tried contacting rescues to rehome a cat and have been turned down, so the only remaining option is the local county “kill” shelter. No “no kill” shelter is going to accept a cat that refuses to use the litter box, because nobody is going want to foster that cat indefinitely and the organizations do not want to indefinitely house and feed a problem cat for the rest of its life. It’s easy for people to say “oh you should have more patience” but I made the huge mistake of taking in a cat for someone who could no longer care for it, and this cat is so awful that if I don’t find a new home for her, I’m dead-seriously going to need the services of a mental health professional. I am no longer comfortable in my own home. It’s funny how everybody says “suck it up” but none of them ever volunteer to take in a cat that pees and poops everywhere.

      2. I read all this negative accusations..When what I believe was someone who is frustrated understandable so and asking”Help me what can I do to stop this”! That’s what I read.. And am also on this site asking the same question…

    3. Have you taken her to the vet to rule out a medical issue? Most websites will tell you that is the first step. She could have irritable bowel. Cats are very good at masking discomfort.

    4. Hi.. Try to spray any spot that ur cat always poop with vinegar.. I hv tried it and it works for my cat.. Hope this help..

    5. She might have some form of urinary tract infection. My mothers cat started to pee on the throw blanket because it was soft fleece and I guess it felt nice for him. I’d take to get to check out her kidneys before you just off her

      1. Catherine, you are not a horrible person for stating what you are thinking, but not doing. If you were going to put her down, you would have.
        My male 8 yr old cat was doing the SAME thing. Turned out he has Irritable bowel disease.
        Needs special food, AND the upside is the food keeps the odor WAY down on the poop, and urine.
        Have your kitty checked. Otherwise, confine the cat, or find home.
        This is difficult to deal with to say the least. You are not alone.

        1. Emalie, I have a cat with IBD as well. After seven months and three different vets at one “conventional” clinic, I’m now taking her to a holistic vet. There seems to be progress and on that front I’m willing to be patient, but the seven months of pooping on the floor has taken its toll. She goes on the floor 2-3 feet from her litter boxes (I have two of them in the same room, several feet apart). One of the first vets suggested they associated the discomfort with the litter box, so try a litter box “that doesn’t look like a litter box”. I’ve been through probably 10 boxes so far, and even though the latest one was brought in after her poop started improving, she’s only pooped in it 10% of the time. Current vet suggested confining when we’re not home, but we really only have one room we can confine her in (laundry room where her boxes and misplaced poop are now, bathroom is too small for box & food/water) and that doesn’t seem to be working. I’m of course frustrated with all the cleanup but my boyfriend (who is not a cat person) is at the end of his rope. I’m waiting for the day when he tells me flat out that I have to get rid of her (rather than just hinting at it). Any other suggestions on how to retrain her?

    6. 5 years ago I rescued a purebred Manx. Someone had declawed all four feet. They failed to tell me she had been surrendered because she wasn’t using the litter box. She only went on my living room carpet. I put the litter box over the spot, but she would go just outside the box. So, I took up all the carpet and replaced it with bamboo flooring. I purchased a tray that is used in dog cages. I placed the tray next to the litter box and put a throw rug in it. I had to keep litter boxes for my other 2 cats. The Manx now pees and poops on just that throw rug. I have several and just throw them in the washing machine. If you try this, get rugs without rubber backing. Cat pee and the rubber backing makes for a nasty smell. I had this cat for a year before I ever heard her purr. Now she purrs all the time. Happy I found a solution both of us are happy with.

      1. Awe God bless you! And thank God for such a miraculous caring animal owner in the world. It makes me sick and disgusted that somebody would kill their beloved pet of many years bc of going outside the box and continue to own other animals. I can only imagine how that poor helpless being is treated. Humanity scares me to death and sadly every day Im seeing how truly selfish and ignorant the society is. Narssasism at its finest! But really it’s amazing how well you can help an animals life with a little thoughtful DIY and love. I’m ecstatic you both are happy and she’s a Lil purring ball of joy!

        1. I too am experiencing this I have a 6 year old cat that has never used the box! She pees and poops where ever she pleases. I have tried absolutely everything to get to stop from ever sort of cat box, litter, anxiety meds, food, multiple vets trips, locking her in a bathroom for 2 weeks, even allowing her access to go outside… and she still proceeds to go where ever. What does one do? I can’t send her to a rescue they all have told me no one will adopt a cat that does not use the box. Now I have kept her which has been awesome I love my home smelling of cat piss… or better yet going to work smelling of cat piss to realize oh nice she got in the closet and peed on my shirt sweet! You really have no options… I can have her live in a barn and hope nature doesn’t get to her or put her down. I will not risk sending her to a home where she will be abused for her actions. She has had a very fair chance in my family. I have spend thousands of dollars to try and fix a cat that has nothing wrong with her according to a vet. So until late you experience he’ll and a cat piss reeking home everyone can leave their judgements to their selves. I love my cat personal so I feel for these people who are having the same. Issues… we all go online seeking help because we love and care about our cats but honestly I think it comes a point that there simply nothing we can do. Mine loves to be outside and come in at night but she still goes in my home so unfortunately she will be moved to a barn and I just have to hope everything turns out ok cause her other option is to be put down. I have had to come to terms with this it’s a hard thing but I have no other choice.

          1. Thank you, Kenna, for your comments. People are in all kinds of different situations, so until you walk in their shoes, they should just keep their judgements to themselves. I have had 2 dogs and 4 cats, 2 cats are still living. 3 years ago, when we rescued these last 2 cats from the Humane Society, we were “living well”. Now, I am permanently disabled and my husband has not been able to find a job for 2 years. We cancel our OWN doctor and dentist appointments because we can’t afford them anymore, and I still owe thousands of dollars to the hospital for heart surgery. These cats are our LIFE and we love them dearly, but it’s so easy to just say “bring them to the vet.” We are on here looking for solutions to keep our precious pets alive, but not all of us can afford a vet. I am NOT irresponsible, but if I try these methods and they do not work, I would rather see my old cat in peace rather than send her back to the Humane Society where she came from and risk having her placed into an abusive home. She already came from an abusive home when we adopted her – I will not do that to her again.

  5. Catherine walker you’ll want to get your cat checked by vet. Cat may have cystitis and try to get cat on wet food

    1. I have the same problem as Catherine with one of my cats and had her to the vet several times, have her on wet and dry food, have 4 different litter boxes including one that washes itself after the cat goes and her preference is to still poop on the floor right next to the litter box. I am at my wits end also – I am not thinking of putting her down but can understand.

  6. Help…..my bf has 3 cats we have 3 cats boxes. The one one upstairs in the hallway is the one that they (don’t know which one) does not use its pees and poops all over the hall way floor. Now the they use the cat boxes downstairs all the time I don’t know how to fix the problem!!!!!

    1. is the cat is in the hallway covered? If so, try uncovering it. It may be that the traffic in the hallway make them feel insecure using the box.

  7. My cat has been crying at night, and has pooped outside the box(just outside it) several times. I have had her checked out by the vet and everything came back negative. I had changed the type of litter it’s true, trying to find litter that tracks less. I will try going back to the old litter, but what about the crying? (our other cat died about 9 months ago, but that’s been a really long time…)

    1. constipation..she had pain while trying to poo in the box..the litter box mean pain for her. Dont buy cheap food..it does make a difference. Try *science diet dental care*.

  8. Please give me some advice. My cat is very finicky about being dirty. If his litter box is gross he’ll go elsewhere. Yet, if he’s mad at me or stressed out (even if the litter box is clean) he’ll poop on my bed or somewhere else inappropriate. Recently my family has gone through some major changes and he’s obviously extremely stressed and upset. He’s pooped on my bed several times and despite punishment and due-diligent box cleaning he’s still doing it every few days. It’s getting extremely frustrating and we can’t stand it anymore. What should I do?

    1. Try giving him some more attention.He could just be lonely and try to spend as much time with him as possible. Have you ever had another cat while you had him?

    2. My cat did the same thing – tin foil covering the bed has worked for me. Unfortunately, the cat is still pooping outside the box. Extremely frustrated at this point. And for those that have do not understand the feeling of having a cat not using the box – maybe you would like to adopt the cat?

    3. sandyer people have done instead of complaining about it otherwise try to find another home for the cat. You are wrong says:

      Never punish a cat. They don’t understand it like a child or dog does and that makes things worse. His litter box should never be gross. Clean it at least 2 times a day . Try Rescue Remedy flower esscense for stress. Had the same pro cat once. Cat was stressed out gave her 2 litter boxes, unscented litter problem once, cleaned it each time it was used and used flower stuff for stress. It worked. Sounds like your cat no longer can trust you because of punishment or yelling. Animals (including people) don’t jrespond to that so love cat more use soft voice and hope kitty will trust you again and be less stressed in time. In case you are wondering, yues I do know what I am talking about have a degree in abnormal psychologyj and almost a year working with an animal psychologist. Good luck.

  9. My cat was found as a stray, we have tried several different litters and he has two different boxes. He would use the clay litter once each time then poop and pee outside the box, the same with the newspaper litter too. He seems to like the pee pads better but still won’t poop on them. And he’s definitely not accidentally missing the boxes. He also tries to cover the poop but he never tried to when he had the clay litter. Getting seriously mixed signals and need help.

    1. I know this sounds insane, but if you’re still having this problem have you tried putting actual dirt in the litterbox?

  10. I have two litter boxes for my cat ( I only have one cat ) I’ve been using the same litter that he likes, I always keep his litter boxes clean. But once in a while he poops next to his litter box. I don’t understand why.

  11. Our cat has been with us for over 18 years. Always an inside cat, “Molly” has been a great companion. We are seniors and live a quite life with no recent changes that could effect the cat’s behaviour. Her litter is changed once a day. Her box is larger than normal (has been for the past 6 years) to accommodate her sometimes sloppy bathroom habits. She has a tendancy to not get fully in the box and urine would dribble down the outside of the box. My customized box seems to work but lately she occasionally defecates elsewhere in the house for no apparent reason. She has never urinated anywhere else than in her box but the recent inconsistant bowel movement habits have us worried. She is playful for her age, eats well and generally seems to be enjoying her life although she has slowed down a lot and sleeps almost all the time. She appears to be in good health so what would have made her less diligent in using the litter box?

    1. Hi, you’re Molly may be just a bit senile. I had a cat that lived to be eighteen, she would forget what room she was in. Your cat might just forget where the litter box is now and then. Just a suggestion, but maybe treat her like a kitten again. Put treats near her litter box on the floor (not too close, but close enough that the scent gets associated). Pet her and put her in the catbox, praise her, then give her a treat. Maybe close off spare rooms that she might be getting disoriented in. Keep up a routine of setting her in the box, praise, treat daily to help her re-make that mental connection.

  12. We had two cats. When our oldest cat got sick our other cat started pooping and urinating outside the litter box. On the rugs in the kitchen or in the livingroom on the floor. My sick cat past away last week but our other cat still wont go in the litter box. What can I do???

    1. sandyer people have done instead of complaining about it otherwise try to find another home for the cat. You are wrong says:

      jUST LIKE PEOPLE, CATS MISS JAND GREAVE FOR THEIR LOST FRIENDS. One of my cats did it for almost a year. I got him another friend, but also put things that hte other cat slept on or had his scent. He was allowed to have any clothing or toys with the other cat’s scent. Eventually she stopped mourning and got to know her new friend and all was happy but this can take some time. Talk to and love yotr cat, believe it or not, they know if you are sad about their friend give them extra love and all will be ok.

  13. We went camping for a long weekend and now our cat is peeing and pooping in our living room. Any advice as to why or what we can do to fix this issue.

  14. help!! my cat was given to me as a kitten, she is totally declawed and spayed. She poops on my tile floors instead of her box. I live alone with her so her stress lever should be low. She loves me, I can tell and I love her. I cant give her up. She also peed on bath room rugs last week and P U ! Please help us, Sincerely Kitty and Me

    1. Take her to the vet to rule out any medical issues she may have. Also sometimes declawing results in behavioural issues later on.

    2. If you’re still having trouble, first exclude health problems at the vets, and then run through as many litters as you can to find one that doesn’t hurt her paws (declawed cats can find ‘rough’ litter painful to their paws, encouraging them not to poop in the litter). Jackson Galaxy once consulted on a case like this where the declawed cat wouldn’t go in the litter box because of how much the litter hurt the cat’s paws but the cat still used pee pads.

      If you can use those bathroom rugs as a starting point just to get them to go in the box by actually cutting the rugs until they fit in the litter box, you can try filling the second box with different kinds of litter. I’m sure there are also websites and forums where owners of declawed cats could give you more advice about litter brands that worked for their cats so you could save a little money on all the experimentation.

  15. I have a ten year old cat who has been pooping outside the box on occasion for YEARS. I finally got to a place where I have multiple litter boxes, use a litter he likes, and even started giving him a pre- and pro-biotic to help him with any constipation issues he may be having. He will STILL poop outside the box every few weeks or so. Many times he will start pooping in the box and then finish outside the box. Sometimes he will squat right in front of me as he’s trying to pass fecal matter. I’ve noticed he prefers to poop on the carpet as well which is VERY frustrating. I’ve gotten him checked out at the vet many times and they’ve ruled this issue out as a behavioral problem. I don’t know what else to do besides put him on medication, which I don’t really want to do. Any help or tips would be appreciated. And I’d like to note that I’ve tried EVERY tip advice websites give on litter levels, litter types, box sizes, hooded boxes, non-hooded boxes, location changes, etc. I’ve tried it ALL and nothing seems to work. I am desperate as I know he knows better and seems to do this on purpose with no regard.

    1. I have the exact same problem as you, I got my cat as a kitten and she used the litter box, but now as a five year old she will not use the litter box to poop in. She will literally run around when she has to poop and it’ll just fly out of her and sometimes she’ll just squat right in front of me and poop. I have no idea why she’s doing this, it’s very frustrating for me and my family, as they almost made me give her up because of this.

  16. I have three cats. The youngest of the three who is 8 has just started pooping and now peeing outside the litter box. We have two litter boxes that are cleaned of waste every day and totally changed out and cleaned eveyr two weeks. We moved two months ago and for the first month and a half all was fine. The litter box locations have not changed, their diet has not changed, the litter itself has not changed not has her outward everyday behavior. she is eating and drinking the same amount, playing and cuddling the same amount and the poop looks normal.

    At first she was pooping on the carpet in my daughter’s hang out room I the basement around a chair that is down there (the chair was with us at the old place) then we blocked that room off and now she is going between the washer and dryer, or behind the furnace or in a storage space. she has not started peeing or pooping on other floors yet which I hope she doesn’t. We talked to our vet about this and they recommended a synthetic pheremone spray for the areas she was going to the bathroom in but that has not helped. Any suggestions? I don’t think it is the noise of the washer and dryer or the furnace as she was fine with them the first month and a half.

    1. You might want to add two more litter boxes; my vet told me when you have a lot of cats you should probably have a litter box for each cat plus one extra, so in this case four litter boxes. And I know this is a recent change, but if it’s not medical, it might be that the social dynamic between your cats has changed somehow without you knowing or suspecting it and that she might be avoiding the litter boxes because of that. If anything, it’s another thing to rule out.

  17. when i told my sister she started laughing i was not supriesd how and why would a cat poo just because its his or her space or room is this text a lie i need a real answer
    answer me i need a answer
    #help me

  18. Hi Dr Yin,
    I am quite frustrated at the behaviour of our cute pussycat who poo’s outside the litter box. He is one year old and when we got him as a kitten, he was toilet trained. Unfortunately he watched our other cat who was pooing outside the box (grrr) and picked up his bad habit! The older one now poo’s in the box (Yay!) after much patience and perseverence; we were able to predict when he needed to go and used to place him on the litter box and when he did his business, rewarded him with a small amount of dry food. Unfortunately the young one still poo’s, much harder to predict when he needs to go. We have tried placing him on the toilet when we think he needs to go, usually after a meal, but ends up sitting in the litter box and staring at us with a very confused look on his face. Please, please help! This is really getting so frustrating and embarrassing when we have people over and they stumble upon the poo and the smell!!!! Antonella

  19. Hi not sure if you’ve got any advice? i am feeling a bit desperate about my cats toilet habits! We have a British blue kitten. He came from a breeder fully litter trained at 10 weeks old. We introduced him to one room at a time round the house and emptied his litter tray regularly. He used it no problem. Then after about 5 months we started to let him out side ( he was neuted) We noticed he was now still going in his tray but would often ‘miss’ and poop on the floor next to his tray. This happened on and off for a few weeks, then he stared to randomly wee and poo on the floor right in front of the washing machine which is by the back door of the house, where he comes in from outside. We moved a litter tray into that area as well and it worked! He now used the litter tray in the laundry room and hardly ever went in his room in the office (a large carpeted room, which is where he is kept at night.)
    After another few months, (he was nearly a year old now) he started to ‘miss’ the litter trays again. He poops just by the side of the box and never in the box its self! I have bought every detergent under the sun to make sure he can’t smell any old poop. He still pee’s in the litter box but always poops just at the side of it. I always empty the box after every wee and poo! I don’t know what to do to encourage him to poop in the tray. He has two different trays in the laundry room as someone said he might not like to wee and poo in the same box? We have tried three different types of litter and it just randomly varies which one he pee’s in but he now never poops in any! We have a hard tiled floor and he diggs at it poops and then runs off! He always looks quite stressed when he’s pooping, i don’t know why? He doesn’t ever go to the toilet outside he always comes in to go… Any advice on things to try work be much appreciated!

    1. Why not try moving the poop from beside the box into the box. He may then go into the box, sniff it and cover his poop, and then start using the box for poop. I believe a cat likes to smell its own business, and may be attracted to using the box by this method. What have you got to lose? Try it.

  20. Our kitten (he’s 4 months old) is peeing (mostly) and sometimes pooping outside his litter box. I am at my wits end with knowing what to do. We did get a puppy also about 1 month ago, and they do wrestle a lot. At times the cat instigates it and sometimes the dog. We’re not getting rid of the dog, but I really need advice about what to do!!! I cannot have him peeing like this in my house. I’m definitely going to try this!

  21. Your article, even though absolutely true and clearly useful, had me in absolute stitches!

    I was is tears that flowed more freely than the cat piss that is so vilified! Very good advice indeed – but you should also consider yourself for the role of comedian. I think you would be p-u-r-r-r-f-e-c-t for it! hahaha

  22. I have just seen that Dr Yin passed away in September 2014. I am very sorry to hear about that, and did not know about it until after I had sent my submission. Clearly my previous comic submission was out of place in the circumstances, so please could you ignore it? I did think Dr Yin got right to the point in her writing, and had a very lighthearted and humorous way of giving advice, which was all good.

    1. Dr. Yin would be very happy at your lighthearted comment, because she loved jokes and fun. Please, don’t feel bad at all. It was a very cute comment.

  23. I am very confused. My cat is about 7 years old. She Always went in the box till recently. She has started going poo on the landing to the attic. Nothing has changed. I don’t know what would cause this. She also started vomiting a few months ago for no apparent reason. Both the vomiting and pooing continue to happen.

    1. Thank you for contacting us at CattleDog Publishing. Unfortunately, we cannot diagnose medical or behavior problems online. For medical issues, we do recommend seeing your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    2. You need to take your cat to the vet. If nothing has changed in the home or with your life style and so on, then something is wrong with the cats health.

  24. Thanks Andy, but some of us our not in the position or disposition to abandon our animals if they misbehave. Why would you even read this article?

  25. Can you please help with my case? I have 3 cats at the moment, 2 who have been together since day 1, and share a room at night together in the laundry room for about 8 years with no trouble. One day, out of nowhere, one of them decided to poop on the floor. We thought it was weird, but passed it off. We took in another family member’s cat, and he is a big trouble maker. He bullies the other cats, and i sense this may be the source of his problems, but not sure. Our cat almost daily will either pee, poop, or both right outside his litter box, and we see it every morning, almost never throughout the day. No matter what we do, he will not stop and i feel awful because my family is getting so upset with him. We have tried new litters, new locations, new box, everything. He has been trained for years to like the same things, so i dont know why he would randomly change his opinion now. We even took him to the vet and he said that he was fine, and we should just crate him at night, but he’s such a big cat and its wrong. I dont know what to do but now my parents are just keeping him locked in a room every day, and i feel horrible, so could someone please help?

    1. We recommend searching through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, https://iaabc.org/consultants or the AVSAB, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior http://avsabonline.org/resources/find-consult. You may want to also check with Karen Price certified trainers https://www.karenpryoracademy.com/find-a-trainer?source=kpctnavbar as well as Victoria Stilwell Positively certified trainers https://positively.com/dog-training/find-a-trainer/find-a-vspdt-trainer/

  26. Ok so i have a strange cat hes about 4months maybe 5 months old… he poops on my carpet…. in one or two places. When hes outside he poops on my rug outside he only pees in the box. What can i do about this. Should i put carpet in his litter box because it sounds like he only likes carpet rather inside or outside…… i cant stand it. I love the lilguy which is his name but i do not like waking up to poop everyday …. another question i have is he suckles our clothes all the time. You push him away and he comes back to do it more its like hes a lil mental case

    1. Hi, this sounds similar to mine little Apollo.. we figured out he had not been weaned properly. So had to hand bottle feed and teach how to use a litter tray..The whole process felt like it went on for ever but only 2 weeks.

      Good luck

  27. Hi
    My husband and I have 5 cats plus we just adopted a baby cat which all our cats loves her so now we have 6 cats. My problem is one our cat (female adult) was pooping everywhere in the house because she had diarrhea so I took her to the vet and they give her some medicine and help her to stop pooping around house but I was wrong she still popping everywhere in the house. My husband and I decided to go buy a new litter box and change the litter to other brand and still doing her business outside the litter box. We change their litter boxs everyday.
    I don’t understand why she doing this, she play with everyone, eat with everyone and drinks a lot of water. I even try to change her food
    Nothing works so I don’t know what to do anymore
    Please help us

  28. We just adopted a 6 month old “Tween” kitten. Not so much a kitten anymore, but not an adult either. We had to take her to the vet two days after we adopted her, she wasn’t peeing, and she was pooping outside the litter box. The vet said she has had a UTI for awhile. So she was given meds to treat the UTI. So, she is now using the litter box to pee, which is great. I have two litter boxes, placed in places for easy escape and noise free. However, she still is not using the litter box to poop. I’m giving it sometime, however, I live in an apartment and I’m concerned about the carpet. I bought cleaner to take out the ammonia smell with enzymes. But she still goes to the same corner. How do I get her to poop in the litter box too?!?!? I have had many cats, and have never had this be an issue. Please help!

  29. Hi Melissa my George. Is 16 and I have a cat window. One day a stray got in the cat window and came in the apartment and got in a fight with George. This started my cat in a daily vomiting and once every 2-3 days poop outside the litter box. Oh is base of the tail has a few flea bites from that hot summer in Toronto. So got an appointment with the vet doing a fecal exam deworming maybe blood work.. I have a long car mat so he just poops on that. He does pee in the litter box. I use a scented lavender President choice fine clay clump litter with zeolite very sanitary. I clean the enclosed litter box yesterday but poop outside again tonight. I give you the results Monday or Tuesday to see about my George.

  30. Hi I have a cat that is about a year old litter boxes trained now all of a sudden out of nowhere she is peeing on my bed and pooping outside of the litter box she has never done this before she was giving a flea bath and a little while after that is when her odd behavior started please any suggestions would be appreciated thank you

    1. Hi Shirley. There are several things that can cause this but most common thing that has happened with cats I have had is urinary stones/crystals. It causes pain and they associate that pain with the litter box and begin to go elsewhere. Take your girl to a vet and have her tested for urinary tract issues. It can be a simple fix, such as a change to a special food. Good luck!

  31. I have a cat that just recently started to randomly poop outside the litter box. For instance, last night, the litter box was cleaned and she pooped and peed in the litter box but also randomly on the carpet in the other room. She has only done this a few times. But has recently done so more often. Never had any problems up until a few weeks ago. Litter is same brand, same food, same place box has always been. But he is still using box just randomly poops on floor. Any help would be great.

  32. Does anyone scold their cats for pooping outside the litter? I have tried this, even sticking her nose into it and that isn’t working. Do they understand that you are unhappy with them? We are trying hard to be kind and loving and that don’t seem to make any difference,

    1. Scolding your cat for pooping is one of the worst things you could do. The cat doesn’t understand that you are scolding her for pooping outside the litter box. She will assume that she is in trouble for pooping. This could make things worse because she’ll be afraid to poop at all… anywhere.

  33. I found an abandoned cat and brought het in the house. She pee’s in the box and poops in it sometimes. I’m going to try to move the food farther away. I have a feeling that the cat was abandoned for this reason. She sure did not deserve that. Thank you for the article.

  34. Grrr. We got 2 cats this year, 1 in February and 1 in July. We adopted both of them from the shelter. Once we brought Eclipse home (second kitty) there have been little presents on the floor in the laundry room. That is where their potty is. I’ve caught her a few times not covering her poo when she goes in the box, but then she (we think it’s her!) goes behind the furnace and washer. What is the best thing to use to clean and deodorize the area? I sprayed the whole floor with bleach water, then washed the floor and sprayed 409’s pet odor neutralizer on the floor, and am hoping that it helps. She had a litter of kittens before she was adopted, and is a little lover, as is Nebs (kitty#1). Any help would be great!!! I’m sure my 4 year old stresses her out to no end, but she’s learning!

  35. One of my cats just started peeing and pooping on the bath mat next to the litter box. Daughter was on the toilet when she peed there. I then realized that although the litter box looked clean at the top, it really wasn’t. I cleaned it out well.

    Then a few days later, I found poop on the mat. Litter box wasn’t entirely clean but not bad. Cleaned it out.

    Then today, not long after I cleaned it, I found poop again. Tiny ones and cat appears to be constipated based on what I saw.

    Although I know which one peed, I am not sure of the pooper. I do think it might be the same cat because she looked very guilty when she saw me going into the laundry room with the mat.

    Both cats had just been to the vet mere days prior to the first incident. Both were fine but the culprit needs to lose a pound and the other one who is older has a little dry skin. Vet told me to feed them less and add fish oil to their diet for the dry skin. Dry skin cat is slightly overweight but not enough to worry about.

    Not sure if the fish oil could be causing this or if perhaps she is objecting to getting less food.

  36. I have a huge problem and I am seriulosy considering putting my cats down since it is impossible to rehome a cat. I put the litter boxes in our basement. They are cleaned regularly and this has gone on unevenful for years…until the last few months. One , or all of the three are now crapping in the box , out of the box, at the base of the stairs , under the fuel tank , pretty much anywhere one walks , except where they eat. They do not pee…only crap. My basement basically has turned into a huge litter box ! Again this is new , and as my husband always says , ” Animlas have more time to invent ways to cause you more work and spend more money than you have time to make. ” I am beginning to believe that now and rest assured when these cats are gone , there will be no more cats in my house EVER AGAIN!

    I have scrubbed and scrubbed that floor, K.O.E.’d it , bleached it…….after it dries they start up again. It it getting too much to handle and to be honest gross as hell!

    1. This first step you might want to consider, unless you have already completed this part, is to have your cats checked out by your veterinarian to make sure that there isn’t anything medically wrong with them. If there happens to be nothing wrong with them medically, a great second step would be to discuss the behaviors with a local animal behavior specialist to see what else can be done. Putting your cats down should always be a last step after all other possibilities have been exhausted.

  37. I do not know what to do! This is an unusual situation,i just had a cat dumped on me out of the blue 4 days ago.I am an animal lover,of all animals and have had dogs before.I would only ever take an animal for its lifetime,no matter what.My last dog died 5 years ago and have not got around to getting another pet since.A month ago I split up with my partner of 6 years,with whom I had discussed perhaps adopting a kitten some day.A couple of weeks ago,same said twit called me about a kitten he knew of and would I like it?I said no thanks,as was not ready to do it yet,and that when I did I would go with the cat protection re homing in the new year.Anyway twit ignored all that,and Thursday night turned up at mine with said cat in a wicker basket and petrified.I did ask him to take it back but refused,and didn’t trust what may happen to the cat if I didn’t keep him,so I did,and have tried everything to try and bond with him,but he keeps pooping on my carpet,and after only 4 days my house stinks like a pets toilet.I havnt given out to him for it,im kind and gentle to him but he hisses at me,and this pooping.He was apparently litter trained and hasn’t urinated out the box,just poop.Turns out hes 6 months old.Do we stand a chance of ever being friends?thanks

  38. PS Its going to be a very long unhappy smelly 16+years for both puss and I by the looks of it,and I didn’t even ask for him,but here he is.I feel responsible for him,whether I wanted him or not as not his fault my ex is a stupid idiot and doesn’t know anything about pets.Id rather have poopy louie any day.but he just doesn’t seem to like me.

  39. Our 4 month old kitten is so sweet and is a really good cat, except, he has recently started pooping outside of his litter box. He poops behind our tv, on the carpet and other soft surfaces. He pooped on one of our cloth kitchen chairs just the other day and I almost threw up. He hasn’t always done this though. We’ve tried changing his cat food. We’ve tried switching brands of cat litter. We’ve tried moving the cat box to a different location. The list goes on. I understand that when you decide to get a pet, you have to deal with whatever comes along with owning an animal, whether it be good or bad, and I love the little guy, but I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this. The smell, oh my God the SMELL!!!! It is horrific. Question: I’ve heard that citrusy things are a deterrent for cats. Is that true? I just want to help him stop dropping deuces all over the house dangit!

  40. Our cat who we rescued two years ago started at first by using his litter box somewhat as halfway. He would go in, poop a little bit, and get out and do the rest beside the litter box. As time went on it has just gotten worse. As of now Knox won’t even go in his box by himself. We have resulted in having to physically put him in his box to go. We’ve tried different litter, other locations for his box, and nothing is coming of it. He is pooping not only in one spot but several different spots within a few minutes. He also pees in certain corners of the house (just downstairs) My fiance and I are now expecting a child and she cannot keep breathing this stuff in and it would absolutely break my heart to see him go elsewhere. We have tried everything and we are simply lost for solutions. He’s the sweetest boy but the bathroom situation is getting to be too much for us. Please help!

  41. So my cat poops right outside his litterbox. I rescued him after he was returned for this same reason. We thought it was the fact that their other cats were bullying him but him and my other cat get along famously. He was fine using the litterbox until I moved it next to my other cats litterbox. He pooped right outside the opening. Any suggestions?

  42. Does anyone have experience with trouble-shooting a toilet trained cat who suddenly starts peeing and pooping away from the toilet? Please, no judgments on the issue of using the toilet vs litter box.

    1. I’m having the same issue, I hope someone replies! My cat is a really good boy and he’s still peeing in the toilet, but out of nowhere (after two years) he’s started pooping on the bathroom rug (and pulling the rug over on top of it)! I know he must be doing it for some reason, b/c he doesn’t really act out. Help, someone!

  43. I have a older male he has this habit of pooping sometime in his box then other times on the rugs at the front door or the rug that goes out to the garage . We have tried everything does anyone have any suggestion to what we can do to hopefully in deterring this habit it has been going for 5 to 6 years. He has done this at older house built a new house and he has stated doing the same thing here. Any help or suggestion will greatly appreciated.

  44. I just my cat a few days ago and she keeps pooping under my daughters crib…..ive put her in the the litter box multiple times so she knows where it is…..ive even gotten some toilet paper to get it up and i stead of flushing it i put in the litter box so that her scent is in it but it still doesnt seem to work…….how can i fix this?

  45. I live in a VERY small apartment, so the only logical place to put Lula’s box was in the bathroom. She often goes when I do. Lol. She definitely prefers unscented litter—and it has to be a certain kind. I believe the feel of the other I tried didn’t feel good to her paws. Even though she’s a tiny thing, she likes a LARGE box. The only time she’s ever pooped right outside the box, was when I was using scented litter. She also won’t use her box it if I haven’t scooped at least after using it twice. I’m home bound, so that’s not a problem for me…obviously not everyone can do this. I also use a cheap, deep-pile, bathroom rug right outside the box, which works great to trap a lot of the litter from tracking into the apartment. I hope this helps.

  46. Hi I have two cats. One of them we rescued from our neighbourhood back in August and she is a very loving cat but recently (the last three weeks) she was been pooping outside the litter box… BUT she happens to do it on the couch right where my husband sits… EVERYTIME (thank goodness it’s a leather couch). We are both so tired of coming home after work to logs on his seat. She is peeping in the litter box just fine. We have two boxes that are clean and we haven’t changed the litter. We don’t know what to do anymore … any suggestions?

  47. I have a one year old cat that has popped on the floor since I got her (6 months) and I’m not sure what it is i change one thing she likes it for a while then poops on the floor. I used to think it was her being a neat freak but I’m not sure she did have a lot of digestive issue when she was young but now she is better but never grew out of this pooping on the floor thing

  48. This might sound weird but my kitten is peeing in the box but not pooping. He poops in different places so I don’t know what to do with him. Can anyone please guide me what to do about this.

  49. My cats have been using the same box and litter brand for about 4 years and recently they have started pooping right outside the litter box like right outside it. not sure what to do its scooped regularly and changed regularly same spot as its been for years same brand litter as well. any suggestions what might be wrong.

    1. I suggest buying a brand new litter box. There are some as inexpensive as $3 out there. Four years is a long time to use the same box. Even with enzymatic cleaners, cats can smell things humans cannot. This is possibly a cause.

  50. So many thoughtful replies. Here’s one more:

    After consulting several vets, found out this is called “middening”. It’s primal behavior, similar to fight or flight. Cats do this for a variety of reasons. One is that they smell another cat which may be outside a window, in the garden, etc. The feces is left unburied to ward off other cats and set territorial boundaries.

    My 10 year old male cat began pooping outside his box when an obvious threat from neighboring cats occurred as I moved to an apartment that had adjoining balconies with two other male cats who wandered over to our balcony and hissed at my cat thru the window. In ten years he never exhibited this behavior. Once he began, it was a difficult habit to break. I confined him in a large closet for a couple of weeks. Tried different litters, etc. My neighbor told me her cats were doing the same thing so we both agreed to keep the cats off the balconies. Even after she moved it was not easy to get the cat to use the box, but eventually he began to do it. Now I’e moved to another state. He has been fine for a year…and suddenly started pooping outside the box again. Why? I have no idea, but I believe he smells another cat that is outdoors. Good luck to all. It’s a frustrating problem.

  51. Hello
    I have a whole different problem. We had a ferrule cat give birth to kittens on our porch 7 years ago, the kittens litter trained great. We still have 2 of the 7 . We took mama kitty and all kittiens had them fixed. Mama instantly became a love able indoor outdoor cat she has never used a litter box she always went out even would howl and scratch our bed at night to go out. Long story short we moved to a brand new house in a different location. And now she will not go out to potty she will go out explore and come in and potty where ever. HELP WE ARE AT OUR WITS END WE CANT BE KICKED OUT WE HAVE A HOUSE THROUGH SECTION 8. PLEASE ANY SUGGESTIONS?

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