Picture this: you wake up Saturday morning with joy in your heart. You plan to wake up slowly and of course you need to feed your cats. You open your door and greet your furry friend only to find a big stinking pile of feces on the floor outside their litter box. Why does my cat keep pooping outside their litter box? Do they hate you? Do they really love seeing you cleaning all the time?
It’s a common narrative that cats do what they want to do when they want. But in the case of litter issues, it’s rarely the reason. You see, cats are clean creatures. That’s one of the reasons it’s so easy to teach a stray to use the litter box.
The real reason they are pooping outside the litter box is that they are probably trying to alert you of something, either physical, mental, or health related.
Common Reasons For A Cat To Poop Outside Their Litter Box
Similar to when cats are peeing outside the litter box, the common reasons are going to help us come up with the best solution to stop them from pooping outside their litter box. So let’s start with the most obvious one:
Dirty Litter Boxes
There’s nothing worse for a cat than an unclean litter box. Especially if you have a hooded litter box, which is generally the best litter box you can get. But without proper and frequent cleaning, it can get really smelly in there and cause your cat to avoid it. Clean your litter box daily.
They Don’t Like The Litter
Sometimes cats just avoid certain brands or types of litter. If you’ve changed your litter recently, it could be the cause. Many cats avoid scented litter, and some require softer litter like crystals as the clumping clay can harm their paws. We had a case where Yavapai basically refused to use a certain type of litter.
If your cat gets stressed it can cause them to poop outside the litter box. This stress could be caused by sharing a litter box with other cats, fear or intimidation of other cats, or a bad location of the litter box. In fact, if your litter box is near the window and you frequently get loud noises, it could scare your cat from going near that area.
Yes, of course a cat pooping outside their litter box is a sign that they are trying to get your attention. They can’t just start a conversation with us, so they need to do things to get our attention. And many cats will pee or poop outside their litter box to signal to us owners they need some attention. If the other reasons aren’t adding up, it might be time to bring your cat to the vet for a checkup.
It’s A New Cat
If you’re having issues with a cat that is new to your household, the most common reason is that they aren’t ready yet. In these cases, all the reasons we’ve listed above are great places to start with troubleshooting the issue they may be having.
Solutions To Your Cat Pooping Outside Their Litter Box
Proper identification of the cause of your cat pooping outside the litter box will allow you to reach the solution faster, but if you can’t really identify the reason, start at the top and work your way down until you hit the solution for your cat.
The most obvious solution is cleaning your cat's litter box every day. Get into a habit of cleaning it and see if it changes things for your cat. It could really be this simple, and usually is.
Change The Litter
As we’ve said, sometimes cats just don’t like the litter you are using. There’s a few reasons for why, and while they are important, at this stage the goal is to find a quick substitute that they like. You can try homemade litter options, or just start purchasing a few different brands and styles to see if any of them work for your house.
Change The Location
If the litter box is in a bad location you can try experimenting with new locations for the litter box. Your goal should be to find somewhere that’s easily accessible, quiet, and private. We’ve written a guide on finding the best place to put a litter box in an apartment that should be able to at least help you get your wheels spinning on new ideas for where to place it.
Get More Litter Boxes
If you’re in a multi-cat household you might be hitting the point where you need another litter box. As a rule, they say every cat should have two litter boxes. We personally feel this is excessive. With a rigorous cleaning schedule two cats can share a litter box. We have three cats using two litter boxes and it’s been fine for years. But your cats may not be as comfortable with each other, and there could be growing friction related to bathroom habits growing, so try adding another litter box to the mix.
Clean Messes With Odor Removing Spray
If your cat continues to poop in a specific location they could have marked the location and now view it as their own personal bathroom. Now, this is more common for cats that are peeing outside their litter box, but it happens with poop too. The best thing to do is to spray down that area with an odor eliminating cleaner such as this one on Amazon - just be sure to use denatured alcohol to really eliminate the odor. Then you can read this post about smells that deter cats from peeing where they shouldn’t to figure out the best way to deter your cat from that area.
Bring Them To The Vet
If you’ve tried al these tips and tricks with no success, it’s time to bring your loved one to the vet for a checkup. There’s a lot of different health issues that could be causing this sort of issue. We’re not vets so we won’t go into details on them, but it can range from very mild to severe and a trained and licensed professional should be the one to make that judgment.
There’s so many reasons you may wake up to find your cat has pooped outside the litter box, and there’s an equal number of easy solutions you can work on right away to ensure it doesn't become a habit.
Which of these tricks worked for you? Or are there others that we missed? We’d love to hear about your experiences, so please leave us a comment below.