2 year old cat suddenly started pooping RIGHT outside litterbox

Jaytea

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Hi all.

My ~2 year old cat (Charlie) about 1 month ago starting going JUST outside his litterbox when he's pooping. He is consistently pooping on the litter mat just outside the box, and when he goes, he usually places his two front paws inside the box, but his rear legs and butt are positioned over the matt, outside the litterbox. He then proceeds to poo on the mat.

Charlie does have low vision and some mobility issues (he experienced cardiac arrest over 1 year ago, and recovered aside from the apparent vision loss and the fact he doesn't jump like most cats). He hasn't typically had trouble using a litter box since his accident and recovery (his box is actually made from a large Rubbermaid storage bin with a carved-out entry hole specifically to accommodate his mobility issues - the box is BIG and roomy). However, nearly 4 weeks ago, he started doing the behavior described above, and I don't know how to reverse it!

Luckily, he only goes about once a day, and when I happen to catch him trying to go poo outside the box, I'll pick him up and place him in the box where he can finish his business. But obviously, I can't always be around to catch it before it happens, and more often than not, I'm picking up poo off the mat and wiping it down each night.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to correct this behavior?

Here's a few things I've tried:
  1. When I catch him in the act, I put him into the box where he can finish his business
  2. Cleaning the box regularly and making sure there's enough litter
  3. Removing the mat for a few days (he just pooped straight on the floor instead)
  4. Cleaning the mat (hosing down with soap and water)
  5. Taking him to the vet (vet said he was healthy and wasn't much help at all)
BTW, he still goes pee inside the litterbox. The primary issue is that he's pooing just outside the litterbox; it's like he's refusing to go all the way in when he has to poo and I have no idea why!

Other notes:
  1. We have two cats and two litter boxes.
  2. I keep the litter boxes clean, scooping the waste 1 - 2 times daily. The boxes are rinsed clean outside with soap and water every 1 - 2 weeks to keep odors in check.
 

Maria Bayote

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Some cats do not like closed litter boxes, no matter how big it is. Try to put an open one.

Also, try adding one more litter box.
See if above helps.
 

di and bob

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Some cats like one box for pooing and one for peeing. He may still have a problem getting in the box, make sure the opening is low enough. Most cats do this when a change to the litter or the box has happened, any changes at all? You could try laying a puppy pee pad right at the entrance, then he would go on that. Just make sure he will walk on it though.
 

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Jaytea

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Thanks for the tips everyone!

M maria - Appreciate the suggestion, but I'm not sure it's that simple. I've had the lid off of the Rubbermaid litter box for weeks now. So, I don't think the issue has to do with feeling enclosed. That said, last night, I did swap out this litter box for a low entry, disposable tray model (I'm trying a disposal box first before committing to buying another litterbox... I've purchased four in the two years I've been a cat owner and want to make sure it's the root of the problem first).

di and bob di and bob - No recent changes to litter. Been using World's Best for about 6 months, and the litter box described in my original post we've had for over a year now. That said, I did purchase a low entry, tray style box and replaced the old litter box with it, to see if it will make a difference. As of this morning, no changes to cat behavior (there was poop on the mat this morning... yay... ).

rubysmama rubysmama - I don't know - maybe? I looked at some stool charts online, and based on the firmness of his stool, he might be slightly constipated. I started adding a little pumpkin puree to his meal to see if it makes a difference.

To re-cap, here's everything I've implemented as of last night to see if it changes his pooping behavior:
  • Replaced the old litter box (fabricated from a storage-sized Rubbermaid bin) with tray-style box.
  • Added a 2nd tray-style box in our home. (the third litter box is a top-entry and is only used by our other cat, Charlie doesn't jump).
  • Added Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter to both boxes.
  • Added 1/2 tsp to Charlie's dinner (both cats get one meal a day at night).
 

rubysmama

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rubysmama rubysmama rubysmama rubysmama - I don't know - maybe? I looked at some stool charts online, and based on the firmness of his stool, he might be slightly constipated. I started adding a little pumpkin puree to his meal to see if it makes a difference.
You can also mix a teaspoon or so of water, depending on how big a meal serving is, to canned food to increase water intake.
 

spsalmon

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One of our cats started doing the same thing a couple of years ago - pooping right outside the box. The vet suggested she might have had a painful poop and was associating it with the box. It lasted quite a while - months -but she finally started going in the box again.
 

terestrife

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My cat has been doing this for years. I don't worry because it's not all the time. My vet says shes probably in a rush and doesnt make it in time.

I would worry if it happened every day. If it keeps happening i would look into it. Make sure the kitty isn't allergic to the food they're eating.
 
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Jaytea

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One of our cats started doing the same thing a couple of years ago - pooping right outside the box. The vet suggested she might have had a painful poop and was associating it with the box. It lasted quite a while - months -but she finally started going in the box again.
That's a relief to hear! Charlie did poop last night in the new tray-style box, so it's progress... I hope. One night isn't enough to know for sure we're on track to correct the problem, but it's the first time he's pooped in the box in weeks!

My cat has been doing this for years. I don't worry because it's not all the time. My vet says shes probably in a rush and doesnt make it in time.
I would worry if it happened every day. If it keeps happening i would look into it. Make sure the kitty isn't allergic to the food they're eating.
That's the thing, though, it has been happening on a daily basis for about a month now. Last night he did go in the new box, so I'm hopeful.

I'm actually starting to wonder if maybe the old box simply got too smelly, even with the frequent washing? The bottom is really scratched up to hell, and I read that the more scratches in a litterbox, the more likely the plastic will absorb the odor. And with the kitties having such a strong sense of smell, perhaps it was just time to replace it. I don't know, but it's a possibility? The good news is that we went into the new box to do his business last night, and it's the first time he's done so in week without me placing him in there.

The only issue is that our other cat is a HUGE digger and the tray style is just not sustainable because litter is landing FEET away from the box (and yes, I have large, high quality litter mats). So, I may need to see if Charlie will take to a new, shiny box with a little more wall height (at least in the back and sides of the box).
 

rubysmama

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Charlie did poop last night in the new tray-style box, so it's progress... I hope. One night isn't enough to know for sure we're on track to correct the problem, but it's the first time he's pooped in the box in weeks!
Yay, Charlie. :clap2: Hopefully he's back on track. :crossfingers:
 
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