My Cat Has Forgotten His 'Toilet Training'

sverigegrabbSeptember 17, 2010

I have an approximately 6-yr. old neutered male cat who adopted us when he was a about 6 months old. He is wonderful, but has occasional problems with using his litterbox for 'Nr. 2'.

Strangely, he's never bothered to cover his offering in the box. Unfortunately, we're currently sharing a house owned by a close friend (we have financial problems) and he says that if this behaviour continues, our cat will have to go. It would break my heart.

Mind you, we instantly clean up after him, scrub the floor near the litter box (he always goes in the viscinity of the litter box, not in any other room) with Nature's Remedy (or whatever the name is). He's in excellent health as well, so it's unlikely to be anything purely physical. PLEASE help w. some suggestions/questions I may not have addressed.

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Have you always used the same litter brand? Have you tried other brands?

Have you ever taken the poop from the floor, put it in the box....maybe leave it there for a couple of days.... to see if it helps?
Also, make sure the litter box is large enough for him.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 1:23PM
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Changes in enviorment or routine can cause the problem. Hopefully he will adjust to the new place and things will return to normal.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 1:28PM
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About the litter/box: We've always used redwood/cedar shavings for odour control, so I don't think it's the litter.

I'll try the idea of moving the poop to the litter box. It's a good idea; don't think I could get away with leaving it for a couple of days, though--Could we have cleaned the box(es) TOO well?

We have two boxes and two cats--the other is a very old one we've had for 16 years--never ANY problems. The younger cat has always known him, so this isn't a 'protest'.

Also, we've been at this location for abt. 3 months--earlier this week was the first incident. This morning was the second. It has me extremely upset--I adore this cat!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Even if he seems healthy, I think you should have a vet check him out. We once had a cat who would go #2 outside the box, and our vet said that he suspected colitis, and gave him prescription cat food. After we switched, he did not have that issue anymore. Our vet said that cats will sometimes associated the pain of eliminating with the litterbox, and that's why they start going elsewhere.

Granted, our cat had other issues, and eventually started urinated outside the box, too. But I think the vet was correct about the #2 issue, because changing his food really did seem to work.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 3:02PM
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One of parents' former cats used to poop outside the litter box (don't recall if this was a once-in-awhile thing, or all the time) until they switched to scoopable litter, which was a fairly new thing at the time. After the switch, no more problems.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 3:11PM
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My old boy cat would often not cover poop in the litter box- he would especially do this to a freshly cleaned litter box. It would annoy me to no end, but I suspect its a territorial marking thing.

He would also occasionally poop outside the box, this seemed to happen in association with anal gland blockages that he got from time to time. That was probably what someone already mentioned about pain and not being in the litter box. With him, I knew that if there was poop or scoot outside the litter box, he probably needed his glands cleared. Do you know if he every scoots on his bottom?

I also tend to agree that the change of environment can bring about these kinds of changes too. Moving is stressful for everyone. I hope you can get him back to better behavior soon.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 3:22PM
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Cats dislike any change in routine and your moving is probably the reason for the problem even though it didn't happen immediately. Insecurity causes all sorts of behavior problems in cats and I don't know what you can do except try to make him feel loved and give him extra attention.

We had a cat decades ago that started peeing on my son's bed when he went off to college. Another cat did the same thing but in shoes when my daughter went to 'Outward Bound' for an extended stay. Good luck and I hope it stops soon.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 3:56PM
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Sorry to hear about your boy misbehaving. I wont go into a long story but, if medical issues are ruled about, and your friend is threatening about the cat having to leave try prozac. It is called Fluoxetine. It is Prozac for cats. My cat has been on it for 5 weeks, and the problems stopped after 2 days. You will need a prescription from the vet, but it is very cheap. Ours is $9 per month, and it has been a life saver and worth EVERY penny!
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 7:31PM
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Thank you all for your wise suggestions! I'm particularly going to look into the litters and the Fluoxetine. He's been very good this week, but had two 'lapses' last week. A friend suggested cleaning out the litter boxes weekly with chlorine bleach, but I have these reservations:

1. Won't the residual fumes repulse the cats rather than attract them?

2. Doesn't the slight (to cat nostrils) whiff of a plain water-washed litter box tell them (usually) that 'THIS is the spot'?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 2:29PM
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I think bleach is okay, as long as it is washed out with water after the fact. Cats are repulsed by anything citrus scented, though, so I would avoid any orange cleaners, etc.

This might sound odd, but have you actually seen your kitty "go" outside the box? I ask because, my cat has long hair back there, and occasionally stuff gets caught in the hair, and then I find it in other parts of the house (whichever room he goes to next). So to outsiders, it would look like he was going out of the box, but he is not.

Also, he likes having two boxes. He tends to pee in one, and poop in the other. Have you thought of setting up a second box somewhere (sometimes space prohibits this)

Then there are the standard litterbox checklist:
1. Some cats are repulsed by scented litter. Have you tried unscented?
2. Is there any loud machinery next to the box (i.e. washing machine, furnace, etc) that might have startled him?
3. Have you tried out different litter textures/depths/larger boxes/etc.?
4. Are you sure to scoop daily?
5. Is it only pooping out of the box? If any peeing, then see a veterinarian for possible UTI.

Hope some of this helps.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 5:08PM
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