Why Does Cat Poop Outside of Litter Box

Why Does Cat Poop Outside of Litter Box: Understanding the Reasons and Finding Solutions

Cats are generally known for their cleanliness and ability to use a litter box. However, there are instances where cats may choose to defecate outside of the litter box, leaving their owners puzzled and frustrated. If you’re experiencing this issue with your feline friend, understanding the reasons behind it can help you find the right solutions. In this article, we will explore some common causes of cats pooping outside the litter box and provide guidance on how to address this behavior.

1. Medical Issues: One of the first things to consider when your cat starts pooping outside the box is whether there might be an underlying medical problem. Issues like urinary tract infections, constipation, or gastrointestinal disorders can cause discomfort and make a cat avoid the litter box.

2. Litter Box Preferences: Cats may have preferences when it comes to litter boxes. They might dislike the type of litter, the depth of the litter, or the box’s cleanliness. Experimenting with different litter types and ensuring the box is clean can encourage them to use it.

3. Stress or Anxiety: Cats are sensitive creatures and can be easily stressed or anxious. Changes in their environment, such as moving houses, introducing new pets, or even rearranging furniture, can trigger this behavior. Providing a calm and secure environment can help alleviate their anxiety.

4. Location: The location of the litter box plays a crucial role. If it’s in a noisy or high-traffic area, a cat may feel uncomfortable using it. Placing the litter box in a quiet and secluded spot can encourage them to use it.

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5. Box Accessibility: Is your cat having difficulty accessing the litter box? Older cats or those with mobility issues may struggle to climb inside a high-sided box or access it on a different floor. Consider providing a litter box that is easily accessible for your cat’s specific needs.

6. Box Size: The size of the litter box matters too. If it’s too small, a cat may feel constrained or uncomfortable while using it. Opt for a larger box that gives them enough space to move around and assume their natural positions.

7. Dominance or Territory Issues: If you have multiple cats, one may be marking their territory by pooping outside the litter box. Providing separate litter boxes for each cat and ensuring they have enough space to establish their territories can help solve this problem.

8. Dirty Litter Box: Cats are clean animals and prefer to use a clean litter box. If the box is consistently dirty or not cleaned frequently enough, they may choose to go elsewhere. Scoop the litter box daily and completely change the litter regularly to maintain cleanliness.

9. Negative Associations: Negative experiences associated with the litter box can deter a cat from using it. For instance, if they had a painful bowel movement or were startled while using the box, they may develop a negative association. In such cases, offering a new litter box in a different location can help break the association.

10. Behavioral Issues: Behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety or attention-seeking behavior, can lead to inappropriate elimination. Addressing the underlying cause of these behavioral issues through behavior modification techniques or seeking professional help can help resolve the problem.

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11. Declawing: Declawed cats may experience pain or discomfort while using the litter box, as scratching in the litter can be painful. Providing soft litter alternatives or consulting with a veterinarian can help alleviate their discomfort.

12. Aging and Cognitive Decline: Older cats may experience cognitive decline, leading to confusion regarding litter box usage. Providing multiple litter boxes throughout the house and assisting them in finding the box can be beneficial.


1. How can I determine if my cat’s behavior is due to a medical issue?
If your cat suddenly starts pooping outside the litter box, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

2. What can I do to encourage my cat to use the litter box?
Ensure the litter box is clean, experiment with different litter types, and provide a calm and secure environment for your cat.

3. How many litter boxes should I have for multiple cats?
The general rule is to have one litter box per cat, plus an additional box. This provides enough options and prevents territorial issues.

4. Should I punish my cat for pooping outside the litter box?
No, punishment is not recommended. It can exacerbate the issue and cause further stress or anxiety.

5. Can I train my cat to use the toilet instead of a litter box?
Some cat owners have successfully trained their cats to use the toilet, but it requires time, patience, and consistency.

6. How often should I clean the litter box?
Scoop the litter box at least once a day and change the litter completely every 1-2 weeks, or more frequently if necessary.

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7. Are covered litter boxes better?
It depends on your cat’s preference. Some cats prefer covered boxes for privacy, while others may feel trapped or confined inside.

8. What if my cat is pooping just outside the litter box?
Place a puppy pad or a litter-catching mat around the litter box to catch any accidents and make cleaning easier.

9. Can stress or anxiety cause my cat to poop outside the box?
Yes, stress or anxiety can be a common cause. Identifying and addressing the source of stress can help resolve the issue.

10. When should I consult a veterinarian?
If the behavior persists or worsens, or if your cat shows signs of illness, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination.

11. What can I do if my elderly cat is having trouble accessing the litter box?
Consider providing a litter box with lower sides or a ramp to help your elderly cat access it more easily.

12. Can I use scented litter?
Some cats may be sensitive to scents, so it’s generally recommended to use unscented litter to avoid any aversion or discomfort.

By understanding the reasons behind a cat’s refusal to use the litter box, cat owners can implement appropriate solutions and create a clean and stress-free environment for their feline companions. Remember, patience and persistence are key when addressing this issue, and seeking professional help when necessary can ensure the well-being of both you and your cat.