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Housebreaking cat with IBS

Posted by jonereb (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 6, 11 at 11:54

Sebastian, a 9 or 10 month old Siamese, has Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He was inconsistent in using the litter box. His brother, Hibachi, uses the litter box just fine. We had only one litter box. For a while Sebastian starting using the box...did great for a week or so. But then he stopped. Now he goes in the kitchen. On top of the washing machine. Whenever the urge strikes he stops and squats.

Two weeks ago, I added a second litter box. No help. Occasionally, Sebastian uses the box, but he is very inconsistent.

He's on a grain free dry diet, which helped a lot, but with IBS he has occasional constipation followed by gas. When he has to go, he goes where ever he is at the time.

Any advice?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

So is it pee, or poop or both? Do you know - was he as a young kitten using box faithfully or is it possible he just never learned from Mom?

There is a technique which basically confines cat to small space until he's back into the habit - then gradually expand the space. You're not doing it to punish but just to get him to associate the box with where he needs to go.
I should give caveat, I am not a trained animal behaviorist so you might want to consult with one before embarking on something like this. If it is just poop that is the problem it might be easier to isolate the time when he's likely to go (after meals) and just keep him confined during those times.

GOOD LUCK & thank you for wanting to work on this!!!! Your boy is lucky to havey you.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

It's poop. We confine Sebastian to a bathroom with a litter box by himself at night. Some nights he does fine. Other nights he poops 4 feet from the litter box. He even pooped in his bed in the confined bathroom! I will admit he is getting better in the confined bathroom. Perhaps we need to expand his hours as you suggested.

He is a shelter rescue cat, so I don't know about his mother. We adopted two brothers. One cat is wonderful. Sebastian - no so much.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

I don't think the problem is a house training problem. It's due to the sudden urge to poop and when it hits he doesn't have time to make it to a litter box.
If I owned such a cat (went thru it with a dog) I would work more on the diet and find one (along with meds if necessary) that will allow Sebastian to have more normal BM's.
My cat's vet recommends grain-free canned food for IBD patients so if you feel your vet isn't helping you enough when it comes to diet, seek out another vet.

Here is one site by Dr. Pierson: http://www.catinfo.org/
and the link below covers nutrition for cats with IBD.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat nutrition


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Annz, there are times when Sebastian "can't make it" to the litter box. Other times, he is just being ornery. I've watched him walk around searching for a place to go when he could have marched himself to the litter box.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Cat's don't soil inappropriately because they are being ornery.

What does the vet suggest?


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Trying a different brand of litter may be a place to start.....


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Ya, it seems like there must be some underlying physiological problem that's causing this. I would really press the vet and/or get a second opinion. It is so hard to deal with this kind of thing. I did think my old cat was just too decrepit to make it down to the litter box but now that he seems to be getting down there without difficulty I think the whole thing was caused by an infection that was successfully treated. By the time that happened though he was completely confused about where he was supposed to go - probably in part due to my efforts to put litter boxes all over the place in "convenient" locations. Once I started confining him to a bathroom he seems to have figured out that he's supposed to go down there. Next step will be removing the litter box from there and going back to the nearby utility room.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Okay...ornery or whatever...this kitty has gone on the floor even when he is confined overnight to a 8 X 5 ft. bathroom with a litter box. We haven't been back to the vet since his initial diagnosis of possible IBS. Occasional constipation is his only problem right now - aside from the litter box issue. But as I understand it, constipation is part of IBS. Switching to Natural Balance Green Pea and Duck a few months ago cleared up his diarrhea problem, but perhaps we've gone too far to the other end of the spectrum - constipation. Perhaps I should try another grain free product?


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

When was the initial diagnosis of "possible IBS?" I see far more veterinarians calling ANY digestive complaint "IBS" than are trying to find out what the problem might actually be. IBS is being used as an umbrella term-which it probably is. But that term covers a lot of possibilities then. Were radiographs or sonographs done? Full blood panel? Biopsy? I'm assuming that a battery of fecal tests were performed.

Confining to a large dog kennel for training might be better than confining to a small room. Cat still needs attention and huiman interaction. I found that adding several short playtimes to the cat's day helps. Put it back into its kennel between playtimes.

I have two IBS cats and neither had ever shown constipation as a symptom. I don't know if I'm lucky or not. Diarrhea is common. Since removing all dry foods and their excessive carbohydrates from the cats' diets, they've improved immensely. Probiotics can be offered, although some vets are unconvinced that priobiotics will have any effect on IBS. One of my IBS kids loves the probiotics but does not respond to them.

Next on the list is training. What happens when your cat poos where he oughtn't? He may be associating litterpan with angry human so avoiding it when human is nearby. NO ONE is happy when a cat poos outside the pan but our response is key to training. Calmly removing the poo and dropping it into the pan is more effective.

annz recommended a side trip to Dr Pierson's site-there is a walloping pile of great information there. She used to be heavy-handed on punching readers with the need for raw feeding only, but now presents a quieter site that is truly helpful in helping cats through good diet-she feels that dry food is bad food. After the experiences I've have with all the domestics, ferals and fosters, I agree. But she's a doctor and I am NOT so please give her presentation a chance. It could help you.

Trying different sorts of litter and paying attention to litter pan placement can be useful solutions too. The type of litterpan can make a difference too. I've read that covered litter pans are no good but find that some of mine prefer them. Now I have an assortment of covered pans, open deep pans, and wide shallow pans. Some like to use pine pellet horse bedding, others prefer grittier stuff.

One of my own cats started pooing in odd places. I was at wits end with all the remedies I've just suggested! A few months of antianxiety medication (clomipramine) and starting over with the normal remedies sorted her right out.

No one solution fits all pets, but you've been given some good suggestions by responders here. I hope that enough has come of your query to help solve this problem!


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

So far, we've closed Sebastian the bathroom only at night. Yesterday we started enclosing him during times when we're suspicious. But mostly he is free to roam the house, play and lounge with his brother.

This morning I placed him in the bathroom while I went shopping. When I returned he had gone in the litter box with fresh litter. Unfortunately, he finished his business on the floor.

I am switching to a different grain free food that also contains pumpkin. Someone suggested pumpkin helps cats with IBS. (No doubt, some vets use IBS as a catch-all for digestive problems.)

I will also try a different cat litter. I'm currently using Tidy Cat Non-clumping For Multiple Cats. (I have two cats and two litter boxes.)

Regardless of his food/digestive problems, it seems to me that he should know to use the litter box unless he doesn't like the smell or texture of the litter. I've never experienced this with any previous cat I've owned.

By the way, we tried a homemade raw diet a few months ago - a recipe from the site linked by annz. Neither cat liked it.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Was he soiling inappropriately when you took him to the vet? How long ago was that?

If he has not improved it may be time to visit the vet again. Cats don't want to soil like that. Something's wrong.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

We adopted him from a shelter in late July 2011. He has always soiled the floor. He may go in the litter box, but almost always finishes his business on the floor. Sometimes he makes no effort to go to the litter box.

We took him to the vet a few times in August and September because of diarrhea - had parasites. We cleared that up, got him on grain free diet and firmed him up, but he has always soiled the floor.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Could you try grain-free wet food? My cats are on exclusively wet food and they have no more poop problems. Between the three of them, they get four 5.5 oz cans a day and each time I feed them, I fill the can halfway with water and add that to the meat so between the three, they are getting 11 oz of water a day which is a good amount for a cat.

They are far better hydrated and there's no more straining in the litter box. Constipation can be very painful and maybe he's associating the pain with the litter box?

Is he going to the same spot or random spots? Some cats will "mark" an area and keep returning to it.

What kind of litter box do you have? Is there a chance he has trouble getting in and out of it?

What do you do when you catch him doing it? I would just watch him one time. See how he picks a place, see his posture, look if he's struggling, try to identify where the problem might be instead of trying to make him stop or correct him in the middle. I'm not saying that's what you do but he might be feeling confused because everywhere he tries to poop, there's some human yelling at him. :)

Good luck!


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My cats definitely prefer the scoopable litter. I don't because it tracks all over and sticks in their feet more than the regular clay litter. But I give them what they prefer. Maybe he'd like some other litter better. Poor guy and poor you.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Chi83, Sebastian poops in random spots - doesn't have a favorite place. I'm currently transitioning him from a dry grain free cat food to a similar dry grain free that has more fiber. Grain free has definitely helped his runny stool, the original problem. But now he does strain to poop, so I'm trying to find a happy medium. Will switch to a wet grain free if this doesn't help. As for litter boxes, I have two. One is rather large with 10 inch walls, but he has no trouble getting in/out. The other is smaller. No domes.

Gibby, today I will start gradually switching from Tidy Cat clay to Feline Pine. I have seen Sebastian poop outside in my hardwood mulch. Perhaps this will make him feel more comfortable. Last night while confined in the bathroom, he deliberately went on the floor, 2.5 feet from his litter box.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Well, it sounds like he's deliberately avoiding the litter box. I still think it might be that he associates it with pain so I bet you will see a difference once he's relieved of constipation.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Would it be better to do some combo of wet and dry food if he's plugged up? I had a cat on vet recommended high fiber dry food once and it led to big time constipation and intestinal obstruction. Maybe kind of like they say for people who don't eat much fiber - they have to get into it gradually or it can cause problems. Likewise dry food without enough water consumption can cause some issues.


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Gibby, I'm monitoring him closely while I transition from one dry food to another. He spend most of today outside, so I'm not sure if he had a bowel movement. Tonight he has gas, but that is not unusual. He actually drinks water frequently. Does he get enough? Not sure. I'm considering adding wet (exact same variety as the dry) in a few days if I don't see improvement.

By the way, I switched his litter today. I know I'm supposed to do a gradual switch, but I went cold turkey. Actually one box still has the old litter, but he will be closed up in the bathroom with the new litter tonight. He peed in the new litter soon after the switchover. Has not had a BM yet.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Today I begin the 3rd day of transitioning cat food and the effect is beginning to show. Both cats now have loose stool. Not diarrhea, but the stool has no form. Overnight, while confined to the bathroom with a different type of litter (Feline Pine), Sebastian went on the floor and on the counter, but not in the box. While cleaning up the mess, Sebastian walked around the box, pawed at the new pine chips, then peed on the floor beside the box. Yeah, I know I was supposed to transition the litter too.

So, wet stool...still refusing to use the box. Oh, and just now he pooped on the carpet in the living room. By the way, the 2nd litter box still contains the old Tidy Cat litter, which he had access to when he chose the carpet. Very frustrated.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

A "possible diagnosis" of IBS and no vet visit since then? What are you waiting for?

Some cats can have a parasite load that won't show up on a fecal, won't pass to a housemate, and yet their stool is never right and it can lead to litterbox issues. I had a cat that pretty much stayed on and off of Panacur for about six months until everything cleared up.

Also, some cats can have neurological issues that will cause issues with elimination. Manx cats are particularly prone to this, although it can affect other breeds as well. With the nerves impaired, the cat can not actually feel when it's time to go, and thus can not always make to the box in time.

You need to get back to the vet pronto and start having tests run.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Hollysprings, Sebastians stool has been "right". He just goes thru times of constipation and/or wet stool - not diarrhea. I'm not saying he doesn't have a parasite - he is a shelter adoption afterall, but he has been treated with various meds back in late summer/early fall.

Last night was good. He was confined to the bathroom, but I switched out the litter box. Last night he got the bigger box - too big for a liner. This box contains the old litter - Tidy Cat. He used the box - got a little on the floor, but this was a victory compared to previous nights. My wife is suggesting that perhaps he doesn't like the liner. I'll test that too - remove the liner from the smaller box - see how that works.

Still transitioning food, but at a slower pace. He is definitely feeling better. More playful.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

It's really great that you have been so patient with attempting all of these strategies, but my point is that your vet should be involved. All of this "experimentation" is merely guesswork on your part otherwise and you could be dealing with a much more serious underlying condition than IBS. You don't know. Because your vet isn't involved. And you do not even have a confirmed diagnosis of IBS. As annoying and aggravating as the situation is to you, it's worse for the cat. No cat likes to leave a trail of poo everywhere. They are inherently clean animals and that goes against their nature.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

You may be right. But this cat will go in the shower or on the floor or on the counter when the litter box is just as convenient if not more so. It makes no sense. Having a parasite or not having a parasite should make no difference in his litter box habits - should it?


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Okay...I've done more reading today. Yes, parasites and other intestinal problems can cause bad litter box habits. I'm taking Sebastian to the vet Monday morning. Will also go with clumping litter. I read that scooping non-clumping only spreads the smell of urine throughout the box, which cats don't like - although, I used clumping litter when we first got Sebastian. He went outside the box then too, but he may have had parasites during those days - about the time he was on meds. I'll try clumping litter again and see what happens. I'm running out of options, so I try almost anything.

In the past, I've had cats with worms and other problems...they all used the litter box without issues. I've never had this problem before.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

An observation: Sebastian was confined to the bathroom overnight. He didn't poop the entire time he was in there. This morning I let him out, but kept a close eye on him. After eating, he headed to the 2nd litter box, the one he doesn't like. After sniffing, he started to turn away, so I grabbed him and took him to his litter box. He went immediately, covered it and went again. Then he got out of the box and started to go outside the box. I grabbed him and put him back in the box. He went again, then got out and tried to go in the bathtub. I grabbed him and put him back in the litter box. He went in the box again, and then got out, climbed up on the counter and squatted to go again. I grabbed him and put him back in the litter box. Finally he finished his business.

I think I need a bigger litter box, even though this one is fairly large. Perhaps I need to get a big Rubbermaid tub, so big that he doesn't feel that he's stepping in his own poop. When he goes, he does a lot! Perhaps he doesn't feel that he has adequate room in his current box.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

There is something wrong. Hope the vet visit helps.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Sebastian and I just returned from the vet. He has bacteria in his stool - no parasites. He'll be on antibiotics for two weeks. Vet also wants him back on Prednisolone for one month...still thinks this is an irritable bowel issue. After a month, we'll reassess. If problem lingers, vet will probably recommend anxiety meds. Although, I must say, Sebastian is quite docile. He's not anxious, per se. No changes in diet for now.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Oh, someone else's cat on here had that! Glad you found the cause.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

I took Sebastian's brother, Hibachi, to the vet today. Hibachi doesn't have parasites or bacteria. However, we're to put Hibachi on the same antibiotic to prevent spreading Sebastian's bacteria. The vet also wants to put both cats on Hill's Prescription i/d for Gastrointestinal Health dry cat food.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Ray of hope that you might be getting to the cause. I sure hope so. I'm still waiting to see pictures of the boys.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

If IBS is the diagnosis - I would assume that it's basically the same condition in animals as humans. Some Drs. think IBS is some sort of nervous, stress related condition. Not necessarily. I had it myself - after three oral surgeries I was on antiobiotics for months - and it resulted in a completely messed up digestive system because all the friendly bacteria in the gut were killed. I'll spare you the graphic details about gas and the other assorted symptoms. If that is the problem, then probiotics is the answer, not more antibiotics.

Vet correctly identified that there's bacteria in your cat that shouldnt be there -but maybe you need to take it a step further and try some probiotics (after finishing antibiotic). Purina fortiflora is one. It's not a drug, just nutritional supplement, so you wouldnt need vet's OK.

Was he ever on antibiotics - some of the parasite meds can be pretty harsh on the digestive tract as well.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

He was on antibiotics back in August for two weeks. Prior to that he was a shelter cat. I don't know his history prior to being a shelter cat. Don't know how long he was in the shelter. When we adopted him and his brother, both had parasites. The vet also put him on Hill's Prescription i/d, which is supposed to help his digestion.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Hmmm from what I can see on the Hills website the i/d looks like a good product but it doesn't look like it has probiotics in it - which is a fancy word for the good, "friendly" bacteria that live in an animal's digestive tract (humans too).

Sometimes the antibiotics and/or parasite meds kill everything off - and then the wrong bacteria take up residence and cause problems. In that case it really helps to take supplements that restore the good bacteria. Otherwise, if you just take more antibioltics you just kill everything off again, and you may or may not ever get back to normal.

I had some cats from the shelter who left the worst kinds of messes in the litterbox - this stuff I sprinkle on their food helped right away, within a few days. Things are now MUCH better. In fact I'm wondering if one of my guys may have been going outside his box because he didn't like the smell...?

Anyway thanks for your efforts & I hope you find the answer (or answers plural).


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Kashka, thanks for the advice. Right now the meds (prednilisone and antibiotics plus Hill's Prescription i/d) seem to be working. Sebastian's stool is returning to normal - a little on the tarry side, even smells tarry. And he has been going in the litter box - no accidents for several days in a row which was the problem. The vet says to bring Sebastian back in a month if the problem continues...so I'll give it a month before I introduce anything new.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Been there and done that with one of my new cats. He had large stools and difficulty passing them and he avoided the litter pan for stooling, but would urinate in it. After we got him straightened around, he was still frightened of the pan, so I changed litter and he used it right away and continued using it. I am sure he associagted the litter with pain. I have since changed back to the original litter and he uses it now without hesitation. Yes, cats can really get wierd when it comes to their toileting habits and even when you get them back on board health-wise they can be psychologically messed up. BTW I used yoghurt with probiotics in it on the vet's advice, and it seemed to work fine.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Glad to hear there is some positive progress.


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RE: Housebreaking cat with IBS

Been on prednilisone, antibiotics and Hills Prescription i/d for 9 days. So far, so good. No accidents several days in a row. However, Sebastian still goes from constipated to runny stool every few days.


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