I had a customer with the dreaded “cat pooping outside the box” issue. This is, by far, the hardest cat problem to solve because every cat has a different reason for doing it. Other litter box problems have a few possible reasons and almost always proves to be one of them…but pooping outside the box can be anything from a spooked kitty to a health problem like colitis to territory issues. It often takes months, sometimes years to figure it out…even vets hate this issue.
So, my customers have a kitty who suddenly started pooping just outside the box but was still peeing inside. He was spending a lot of time digging in the litter…like, a lot of time, and was wanting to be brushed more by his humans. This behavior was very unusual for this kitty and they had taken him to the vet in case it was something medical, which it wasn’t…the vet didn’t know what else to do. So we went from those details to try to figure out what we could do to solve this problem. What kind of litter are they using? Scoop Away. Did they try adding a second litter box? Yes. Is he a long or short haired cat? Long. Does he have a lot of dust from the litter stuck to his fur? Yes, more than normal. Okay, this was all good information.
What do cats do to cover smells they don’t like? They dig and try to cover it. (It sometimes happens with food they don’t like.) So he’s wanting to be brushed more, even though he generally doesn’t like being brushed AND spending a lot of extra time trying to cover a smell. Maybe he dislikes the way his fur smells?? Is that a thing? Of course it is. Cats are very clean animals, hence their constant grooming sessions during their waking hours.
I suggested that they try a different litter with less dust and no added carbon, odor control powders or fragrances and get a new litter box. After that, give him a bath…um…a bath? Yep. There’s a grooming foam for cats that saves the humans from being mauled to death by an angry kitty. Just foam him up and wipe down with a damp washcloth. Be sure to check his paw pads to make sure there isn’t something stuck in there, (another reason cats will continue to dig.) “Oh yeah, he has been biting on his feet more lately.” Great! That’s a good clue! (Remember, everything a cat does is for a reason!)
So, they went home with grooming foam, new litter, by Integrity, with no additives and a new litter box. If this doesn’t work, then we can look at his diet or environmental aspects. Okay, good luck!
A few days later they stopped into see me to tell me that it worked!! Holy crap! I solved a “pooping outside the box” problem! I’m a genius! Ha ha, no, I took the details WITH his cat servants and, together, we put the puzzle pieces together. It was a team effort and it worked. I’m not saying that I’m not proud of our accomplishment, because I am but this is a lesson in knowing what our feline overlords are trying to tell us.
As Jackson Galaxy always says, “there’s no such thing as a bad cat”. It’s true. There is ALWAYS a reason and there are ALWAYS clues and it’s up to us to figure out why our cats are doing what they’re doing.