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Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Posted by jonereb (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 17, 11 at 13:28

I have two cats - 6 month old Siamese brothers. One uses the litterbox with no issues. The other will use the litter box (bowel movement), but then he'll go to another room and go again. Or he may step out of the box, take a few steps and squat again. He usually takes two or three tries before emptying his bowels. Let me emphasize, he is very good at going to the litter box for the initial bowel movement, but he never completely empties his bowel the first time.

I keep the litter box very clean, scooping it several times a day - almost immediately when I know it has been used. So when the kitty in question uses the litter box, it's clean.

Why does he insist on going in multiple locations? How can I break him of this habit? I've had both cats for 3 weeks. I've never had this much trouble with cats.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Do you have two litter boxes? You could try setting up another one and make it much larger.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I don't have room for a second litter box. Besides, he goes to the current box initially, but then goes in other places to finish his business. I follow him around, nab him when he starts squatting outside the litter box, and take him back to the box. The fact that he goes to the box initially tells me he accepts the box to some degree. I think he would do this even if I had two boxes.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Is the box covered? Some cats don't like that and mid-squat he may start to feel confined. Also, I wonder if he's still adjusting to the new diet (and thus elimination routine) he's getting at your house since you've only had him three weeks. It sometimes takes awhile for the adjustment to occur. Just some guesses!

I have one cat that every so often does her #2 outside the box. There's no rhyme or reason for it: litter box is perfectly clean, she's healthy, etc. I have never been able to stop her from doing it.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Marita, when you say your cat sometimes does #2 outside the box, do you mean the cat misses the box? Or makes no attempt to use the box?

My litter box doesn't have a cover. However, it is in a U-shaped area. Kitty may feel confined. That's a real possibility. Is it possible that he will accept the space as time goes by? Or is he more likely to refuse?


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

My friend has 4 cats and 5 litter boxes. She said each cat needs their own litter box, they do not like sharing. another friend has 2 cats and one litter box and she laughed and said the older cat doesn't want the younger one to use her litter box. Well, it wasn't funny the younger cat was using a spot on the carpet as her litter box and the house stunk like cat urine and the owner couldn't even smell it. The women who had to go in the house to use the bath room knew.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Vala, that is my biggest fear - the house smelling like cat mess. My cute Siamese will become an outdoor kitty before I allow that to happen.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I think it's unlikely he'll accept the space since he's already showing you that he's not happy there.
As vala's friend stated, most cats like having their own box and that is why I asked if you had two.

How large is your cat and do you think he's comfortable in the size box you have? I have a large Manx, and a large box, and I sometimes find poop outside the box, but in her case it's often due to the tail muscles not being able to expel the poop (for lack of a better term). She just leaves the box thinking she's done and the poop is still hanging on!


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

You've got to try to nip this in the bud because you very well might end up with cat pee outside the box. The cat isn't doing this intentionally to be disobedient. I know how frustrating litter box issues can be but this may be an easy fix. The rule of thumb is 1 box per cat and one extra. If your cats never have an issue, you might even be able to do just one box. But you're having an issue... Are you sure you can't find somewhere for a second box (they can even be side-by-side). I'd try that at least temporarily (even in my living space if need be) just to see if it fixes the trouble he's having. If that's the solution then you can go from there.

I never had a cat that didn't go all at once, does everything look okay with his poo? Are you feeding him the same food he was used to and is it canned? It sounds like he's constipated. If that's the issue than he could be associating the unpleasantness of 'trying to go' with the box itself. So, he doesn't go back a second time. They do that; that's what can happen with urinary track infections, too.

Any chance you can find out what kind of litter they used to have and if he's used to multiple boxes? He might just need a different litter. (I just switch to Fresh Step (vet recommended) and my cats prefer it over their old kind). You're better off with an uncovered box, so that's good.

Are you cleaning the places he's gone with a specific pet enzyme cleaner? Make sure you are getting rid of the smell so he's not drawn back there.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Neither cat is constipated - quite the opposite - loose stool. I've had them wormed, treated for ear mites, meds for parasites and neutered all in the last 3 weeks. We adopted them from a shelter. I don't know how long they were at the shelter - one small cage - one litter box. Their stool is just now beginning to get firm - though one cat is still questionable, the one with whom I'm having issues.

I'm consistently feeding them Purina Kitten Chow (chicken & turkey), a dry food, which they eat heartily. No treats. No table scraps.

Just last night, Sebastian (the cat with the issues) went in the litter box on his own (litter box is in children's bathroom). He left the litter box and went in front of the television (never gone there before). It's like he doesn't realize he still needs to go, then all of a sudden squats and goes before I can react. Or maybe he holding back and going to make his point. Who knows.

I'm cleaning with a basic carpet cleaner and white vinegar. I've been told that white vinegar cuts the smell. Seems to work okay. He doesn't usually return to the same place - just goes when the urge strikes.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

It sounds as though he has a digestive problem since he will suddenly squat and go in random places. I would suggest trying some other cat food and look for one without grains and corn.

Also, when cleaning, use a cleaner with enzymes such as Natures Miracle. White vinegar cuts the odor for humans, but pets still know it's there.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Annz, I'm hoping their digestive problem is a result of worms, parasites and ear mites. The stool is soft but it is improving - I think. If it doesn't get firm within a few more days I'll take your suggestion on changing food.

I've also repositioned the litter box. It's still in the same place, but I've moved it closer to the middle of the area to give the kitties more space. It's about noon on Thursday - so far no accidents today.

Speaking of accidents, I've been keeping them closed up in the bathroom during the night for the past few nights. I check on them at about 2 AM, clean up, etc. This morning at 2 AM, Sebastian had done his business in the bathtub. The litter box is just around the corner inside the bathroom. I cleaned up the mess and placed their food dishes in the tub. I don't think a cat likes to go where he also takes his meals.

As you can see, I'm trying anything and everything.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Follow-up: Sebastian's stool is now firm - fairly normal. As a result, he did not have an accident today. Late this afternoon, my daughter saw him in the hallway outside the bathroom where we keep the litter box. Fearing he may be looking for a place to do his business, she placed him in the litter box. He went twice inside the box and apparently finished his business. He did NOT go on the floor or carpet as he usually does after one attempt in the litter box. It's early, but I'll take this one small victory and keep my fingers crossed. Perhaps he likes the fact that I moved the litter box into the center of the available space, away from the wall.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I hope he's on the mend. I adopted a shelter Siamese last fall and still working on loose stool problems though he has no problem using the box. In our case the parasite problem has been persistent and elusive with false negative stools when he was still infected.

I have a different older cat who seems to be getting confused about where the litter box is. I can really relate to being on the lookout for the cat about to go somewhere other than the litter box.

I love Siamese cats. Would love to see pics of yours when the dust settles on the litter box issues.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Gibby, I didn't know I could post pics on this forum. I'm a newby here. I've read that parasites can be hard to find. When I returned to the vet with the same loose stool problem, my vet recommended that I keep giving parasite meds even though he didn't see parasites under the microscope.

As for my problem cat, I can now report that both kitties used the litterbox overnight. No accidents. This morning, as I cleaned up loose litter scattered on the floor around the box, both kitties came in a went #2 - both in the box together - at the same time. Their stool is now firmed up. I think the shot they got for worms did the trick, even though worms were not found by the vet. Also ear mite treatments may have helped. I don't know - can ear mites cause loose stool?

I'm very encouraged but not letting my guard down.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Glad to hear things are improving! If the loose stools return make sure your vet has checked for Giardia.

My cat had the problem as a kitten and it wasn't found until I changed vets. It was the first thing they tested for.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Tritrichomonas foetus is another one hard for some of the vets to catch. They used to have to send it out to a lab - not sure if they're able to check it in-house yet. My mill kitten had non-stop diarrhea so we treated for that with a special antibiotic on top of all the Giardia meds. Some of the people I talked with that got kittens from the same place ended up dealing with incurable diarrhea for more than a year. Apparently, the bug can clear itself up and the diarrhea subsides after a period of time. Others probably not knowing they ever had this probably have their cats on special diets for the rest of their lives. Not fun.

It's great to read Sebastian is feeling better! There's usually a solution to these problems but pin-pointing it doesn't always come so easy. Especially when they have different things going on all at once.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

To annz and kittens, my vet told me that if diarrhea persists, we should send sample stool to a specialist. Right now we're seeing improvement, but that may be our next step if runny stool returns.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Sebastian is up to his old tricks again...going #2 initially in the litter box, then leaving to finish his business on the carpet - goes where ever he happens to be when the urge strikes, usually within 30 seconds of his initial bowel movement. I don't understand. He obviously knows to go to the litter box, but he doesn't finish his business there. Very frustrating.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Ahh, he's trying, poor little guy. Do they both still have firm poo?


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Yes, poo is still firm. I'm not sure it's as firm as it should be, but it definitely has form. Not runny.

They were neutered, wormed and treated for ear mites last Tuesday. It's now Saturday morning. No additional meds have been dispensed. Feeding them Purina Kitten Chow (turkey and chicken) and water. That's all. No treats. No milk.

Overnight, I keep them closed up in the bathroom with the litter box. No overnight accidents. But when Sebastian is allowed to leave the bathroom, it's as if he saves up a portion so he can also go on the carpet.

I'm hoping my persistence pays off.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I know you are resistant to the second litter box so I'll just mention it this last time. Try putting a second litter box out, outside of the bathroom, somewhere in the vicinity of where he's pooing. That doesn't mean you have to have a litter box smack dab in your hallway for eternity but set it out for a few days at least for an experiment. Your postings keep indicating that you feel it's a behavioral problem and he's picking the carpeting intentionally. He actually already has a second 'box' if you will, your carpeting. You have some kind of issue, at least alleviate having to clean up the mess and getting him used to pooing on the carpet. A second box might be all he ever needs. However, with his digestive issues, it might just be that he feels like he's completely done and then a second round sneaks up on him once he starts moving around. The fact that he initially uses the box makes me think he wants to go in a box. It sounds like you're giving him oodles of attention, is there anything you can think of making him unhappy which might cause a behavior issue?

Your choice of food isn't the best. It could be a change in food makes all the difference in the world. However, it's really difficult to change up the foods (because that can cause digestive issues, too) if there is any possibility of parasite infection. My feeling is it's better to rule things out before adding in new potential problems.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I agree with the second litter box in the place he's going. Why not experiment with it for a week or two and let us know the results? I know people who have done this and then gradually moved the second litter box closer to the first litter box, finally taking it away. It worked.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Kitten and Marita, good point on the second litter box being the carpet. I think you're right that Sebastian thinks he has finished his business. Then all of a sudden the urge to go again is so strong that he has to go immediately - not enough time to get back to the box, so he just squats where ever he happens to be. That's why I'm not sure a second box would solve the problem. But I promise to give it more consideration.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I'm attaching a link to CatInfo.org, it's all about a cat's diet that I got from the folks here. I was a dry food feeder forever and this information changed my thinking and not I'm feeding a wet food diet. I've always had indoor/outdoor cats so I think it was less of an issue because they got their meat hunting. Now I have 2 strictly indoor kitties and I'm having great luck with the canned food. It's not as convenient but it's worth it. I still leave dry food out for grazing but their primary diet is canned, twice a day. It sounds like you're home enough to manage that. There's a ton of information here and on the side bars you can find brand recommendations. If expense is an issue, I believe she said in there that even the cheapest canned is better than dry food.

If it looks like the infection is all cleared and your vet can't find anything else you might have to consider the food. This will take you awhile to read through.

Nope, the 2nd box might not fix his problem but it'll fix your problem of having to clean up that mess every day until this is resolved. None of us likes to clean up cat mess, especially if it's runny! I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. We get more than we bargain for sometimes when adopting new pets. Especially cats, aren't they supposed to be easy??? - lol!

Siamese cats are supposed to have grand personalities - aside from the poo aside, are you having a lot of fun with them?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Diet


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Having fun? I know it doesn't sound like it, with all the litter box problems, but we love our new kitties. Sebastian is very loveable. Hard to stay mad at him. Hibachi is long and sleek - typical Siamese look. Very graceful too.

Thanks for the cat diet info. In fact, the reason I came back to the forum was to ask about cat food. You post was very timely. Thx.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Whew! I just read thru some (but not all) of the info in on the website linked in Kittens post above. Let me see if I understand kitty nutrition.

Cats need high protein, low carb diets. Sounds like Adkins diet to me. My dry food, Purina Kitten Chow-Turkey & Chicken is too balanced with almost equal servings of protein-fat-carbs (carbs being grains). I should add a canned food like 9-Lives Flaked Tuna in Sauce which has a 69-29-9 rating of Protein-Fat-Carbs. Let the kitties graze on the Purina and gradually switch to a dry food with higher protein values. Am I understanding this correctly?


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

This morning I bought a can of Friskies chicken in gravy (57 protein, 34 fat, 9 carbs, 81 calories per 5.5 oz.). Sebastian loves it, but I let him eat less than an ounce. Shortly afterwards, he had a bad case of gas and runny stool. Should I discontinue...or continue with small portions given with his regular dry food until his stomach adjusts?


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Update on the loose stool. It was not caused by the canned food I mentioned in the previous post. My wife informed me that he had gas/loose stool prior to me feeding him the wet cat food.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

See, you confused yourself by going too fast. If your wife hadn't noticed he's back to runny stool, you would have attributed it to the food. You're vet should reassess him now since the first treatment didn't actually clear him. He offered to send out a sampling if Sebastian wasn't better so that will help you. You didn't mention what he treated for before. Some stuff is catchy (especially if they share a box) so keep an eye on Hibachi - what cute name :)

Get a thumbs-up that he's cleared of everything and healthy in that aspect then work on food. In a perfect world you can just put out a dish of food and everything is fine. But cats can get all sorts of digestive disturbances from the change. You're going to end up making yourself nuts trying different brands of foods and if the diarrhea is all caused by parasites then you're just chasing your tail.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I still have some parasite meds (refrigerated) that we're giving both cats. Started with Sebastian yesterday. Overnight, I noticed Hibachi's stool is loose too. He'll get meds today. Vet told me it's okay to continue these meds - use until finished. If that doesn't clear things up, we'll probably send stool off to a specialist.

Back to canned cat food. Did I understand the message in your link correctly - I should buy wet food high in protein, low in carbs?


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I would question continuing to give parasite meds when the vet hasn't seen anything during his 'in-house' tests. Since the problem has returned, my guess is the meds you're giving have no effect on other parasites your cat may have.

IMO your cat needs more tests that are sent to outside labs.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

I'm not a nutritionist by any means but yeah, you want high animal protein, low carbs and moisture (not from the water bowl). My switch was initially for the intention of getting more water into my cats. You can ask everyone for best food recommendations and you'll get a dozen different responses. IMHO, a properly balanced raw diet is probably the absolute best choice but that's just my opinion and lots of others will tell you different. Most of us prefer commercial and that's what I feed. The more expensive commercial foods are better than what you're picking up at the market. This is primarily due to the ingredients. Take a look at your Friskies ingredients compared to Nature's Variety and you'll see the difference. I had mill kittens and had to deal with both infections and food intolerance. It was an honest to goodness nightmare not having any experience with cat issues. That's where my suggestions are all coming from.

I know I had to give 2 special antibiotics (at the same time) for Giardia (and had to do it twice) and then a completely different rx for Tritrich. So, the medicine you are giving may very well be the wrong medicine to kill a particular parasite if in fact they are still infected with something. Only your vets going to be able to tell what parasite they might have. Unfortunately, pets come into the shelter with the unknown. If they had interaction with other cats (although it doesn't sound like it) then they could also have picked up something from the others. I hate to see if go through all the food experiments if it's only a bug causing the diarrhea. I don't know what meds he gave you or if it's something that might require a double dose. If that isn't necessarily the case, I'd ask to have a sampling sent out. Otherwise, why do a second round of ineffective meds and then have to test and treat again with different meds? Now you're talking weeks of discomfort.

But, if you're just going to take a shot in the dark here and try to correct this with diet, I'd select a limited ingredient food just to start out with. Get a firm stool and then work from there. You can get some from the vets office that have limited ingredients to help determine food intolerance. The link below has a good selection of over-the-counter foods you could browse through ingredients (it's a pain at the store) most are often available in pet specialty shops. You're not going to be able to make any kind of determination about food with just a serving or two so exercise some patients before trying a different food. Oh, and keep in mind, just because you're cats are related doesn't necessarily mean they can both eat the same food...

Here is a link that might be useful: Ingredients sample


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

Hibachi's stool was firm last night at 9 PM. Sebastian's stool was still loose but improved. I'll continue monitoring. Who knows what's going on with these kitties.


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RE: Inconsistent Litter Box Use

After several weeks, of dealing with loose stool, then improvements, then back to loose stool, I finally took Sebastian and Hibachi back to the vet. No parasites. However, Sebastian has irritable bowel syndrome which requires Prednisolone Syrup for 7 days, then every other day. I was also told to change his diet to dry lamb & rice. No wet food.


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