Why has my cat, who has health issues, started pooping on the flo

linnea56June 15, 2009

My cat, who is 10, has been pooping on the floor with increasing regularity. Some of you may remember: almost 2 years ago she had brain damage from having a parasite crawl up her nose and burrow into her brain. She started having seizures which is how the parasite was discovered. Although it was not a stroke, it was similar in many ways. It was a long road back and she never fully recovered all her physical faculties and, umm, mental faculties. She had to be retrained to use the litterbox just like a kitten. But she managed to relearn most things. She is not longer allowed to go outside. I received much valuable advice here then.

She is on twice daily phenobarbitol now. Her back legs are not too coordinated and she canÂt move out of the way quickly. If there is a human-cat collision she hisses now. The phenobarbitol makes her hungry so whenever someone goes in the kitchen she is always underfoot looking for a snack. She is still a sweet cat (although more with me than anyone else in the family: she used to love everybody) but other family members are getting annoyed with her hissing at them if they walk past her too quickly. She will also nip toes under the table if she is really hungry! Her food is measured or she would be really fat. She is not very active anymore.

The pooping may be the last straw with my husband. I have been trying to find the pile before he sees it but I travel on business too. ItÂs always in a different spot.

At first I thought she did it only when the litterbox was not clean enough. She never used to be finicky. I made an effort to monitor the box better. I normally put only a small amount of litter in, with a base of newspaper, and remove it all when changing. I donÂt scoop because the urine is still there, and thatÂs more of a problem than the poop, odorwise. So I have been replacing every third day or so. The litter is Tidy Cat clay litter. I used to use Fresh Step half and half with the ordinary litter. But that stuff is expensive so I stopped buying it. Maybe I need to go back to it, as it seems to help with odor? The pooping is more recent than that change, though. I probably stopped using the Fresh Step a year ago, and the pooping started maybe a few months ago, increasing in regularity to now almost every day, usually at night or in the evening. I have noticed that before she is going to do it she paces restlessly around and wonÂt be still or sit next to me. I could lock her in the room with the litterbox then but IÂm not always around to see this happening.

Maybe some of you cat behavior experts have some suggestions for me? Because of her health issues I donÂt know if this is a standard behavioral issue or not. Thanks for any advice!

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Linnea, I believe you are right when you mentioned "mental faculties". Our 12 year-old cat had (what everything pointed to, towards the end) a brain tumor. He became blind, did a huge amount of pacing/circling, wanted to eat all the time, howled.. and started pooping on the floor (he NEVER had any litter box issues before). We were always home so this was OK. The vet had NO clue of what was going on, and could not be convinced there was something wrong! He went fast.

Mental issues really sound like a good diagnosis. Shutting her in, at certain times, won't probably solve anything, just add to her stress. You seem to have a very competent vet, and that's re-assuring.

Can you tell whether she can see/smell? That could be why. Also, would it be an option to add some boxes in strategic areas? Maybe, she can't find her way back to her regular one. When you see her "prepare" for a poop, just pet her, talk to her, and approach a box, or just newspaper or a small container. Teach your family to anticipate this moment.

Don't give up, or rather don't let your DH give up on her.
My very best,

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 1:57PM
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She's obviously not all there mentally or physically. I had a cat with brain damage who was thrown out of a car as a kitten and bounced on the concrete a few times. He had agression issues and would attack another cat without provocation.

Your cat's sight, hearing, sense of smell and other things may be off and that's why she's hissing as she's frightened and that's her only defense.

I always advise people, if you can't live with an afflicted animal then do the humane thing and not subject it to harsh treatment. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:46PM
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She is blind in one eye. The other is ok, the vet tested her. I think her sense of smell is ok, though IÂm not sure how I would test for it, other than the following non-scientific test. I do know all I have to do is start making dinner in the kitchen by cutting into some raw chicken and she is on the spot, no matter where she was dozing in the house a minute earlier. (I guess a chicken (odor) can fly really fastÂ) Apart from the hissing and the pooping she is still really a sweet cat. I work at home on weekdays and she follows me around the house all day.

The pooping mystifies me because this seems to be, not a leftover from her injury, but something pretty new. She did reliably re-learn to use the litter box after maybe 2 months of recovery. SheÂs still using the box for urine, thank heaven, so I donÂt think she forgets where it is. Do cats just get more finicky about the litterbox when they get older? My previous cat was finicky from day one, so I canÂt compare.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 11:11AM
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Any improvement with your cat? If she can 'smell' chicken that quickly, there is nothing wrong with her smell!! Smart cat!

Have you tried to add a couple more boxes in strategic areas? Does she normally just have one? I volunteer at our local shelter, and I have noticed that, usually, the poops are mostly in the same row of boxes, and the urine in a different row. I noticed the same thing with my own cats. They tend to urinate in one box, and poop in another one. So, if you only have one box, it would be my first step. Vets always say one more box than cats! I personally find the Tidy Cat litter very unpleasant (strong odor), but if she has no problem with urination, that would not be the issue. Maybe she does not have enough sand in the box to cover? Why do you put a base of newspaper at the bottom of the box? That might make the urine smell worse especially after a day or 2..
You say you work from home during the week, and that you can usually tell when she is ready for one, so you might direct her to the right place... especially as she likes to follow you around. All cats are different, but they do tend to change with age.
Also, is she constipated? Does she seem to strain? If pooping is painful for her, she might want to avoid the box.
Good luck,

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 7:40AM
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I went back to mixing Fresh Step, the old litter, with Tidy cat. ItÂs only been 3 days. I will have to check with my husband to see if he has picked up any "deposits" lately. I have not found any. She does not seem to be constipated.

I bought some new hairball medicine, which is an oil I have been mixing with her wet food. Unlike all the others I have tried so far, she likes this one. I have been wondering if the oil will make her stool softer too. I started using that maybe 2 weeks ago. The hairballs have now stopped. The floor pooping predates the hairballs (which show up every year in the spring); but IÂm wondering if having hairballs could have caused the uptick in incidence I noticed.

The newspaper mostly makes it easier to clean the box. When I dump it, it all slides easily into the garbage. But I have noticed (maybe this is me speculating) that she does not like the feeling of the plastic under the litter on her toes. When I have run out of paper she has objected (donÂt ask me how I know, she just comes to me with this lookÂ). I usually put a heavy sprinkle of baking soda under the paper. I find the paper, which goes up the sides too, wicks the moisture away from just the one spot and makes it dry faster.

She does not cover what she does in the box and never has. Just does it and leaves. If IÂm nearby and smell it, I do it!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 11:00AM
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I saw on an animal planet about a cat with senility issues. The animal expert said to make her world (the cat) smaller to help with confusion issues. They set up a bed in kitchen, food/water near by and cat box close by. Maybe she is getting lost/confused. I had a cat (an inside one) that had what your cat had (parasite) The vet new what it was right away with out expensive tests. I would only take her outside with me very rarely and she got it. She got dizzy spells and it looked like her eyes were spinning. I had never heard of this before, later someone I knew said she spent hundreds on trying to find out problem and it was a parasite thing too. My cat recovered almost completely but did have problems with balance from then on, ie: not good at jumping up high and jumping down from 3" or more.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 11:56AM
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