Cat poops NEXT to Box. Runnig out of ideas. Help?

Crafty_Camper123

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I'm hoping to garner some new ideas on how to fix this problem I have with my cat. I've had her for 2 years. She's about 4 years old, and does not have any known health problems. She has been to the vet for general checkups and vaccines and has been spayed and neutered since getting her. She is not declawed. She is fairly small. She weighed 10lbs last vet visit. I do have dogs, but her litter area is inside the guest bedroom closet. Access to the guest bedroom is blocked with a baby gate, so the dogs can't bug her while she goes. I deep clean her box about once a month.
Since the day I got her, she has been very picky about her litter box. And if it is not in what she deems as perfect condition, she poops right in front of it. If there is so much as one poop inside the litterbox she'll poop next to the box. Pee does not seem to matter as much. Sometimes though she just does it seemingly because she wants to. (clean litterbox, for example) My husband is fed up with this and wants to get rid of the cat. I want to exhaust all my options first before writing her off as a shitting cat that cant be fixed.
Things I've tried:
-Spaying (eliminated inappropriate urinating. But not the poop problem.)
-Covered box. Her first box was pretty small. We tried a "large" covered box next.
-Move box away from prying eyes. We moved it to the guest bedroom closet.
-Uncovered box. With the additional privacy, I thought maybe the covered box was too claustrophobic for her.
-Expensive ass electronic litter box. I admittedly struggle with daily cleanings. Even with that though, she seems to require her poop to be removed from the litter box promptly. So once daily isn't good enough anyways. This worked for a few months. But, if the litter receptacle falls open, or becomes stuck open in some way, she poops next to her box. So while it improved the situation, it's not fool proof.
-Pheromone collar. While she does not seem stressed, we use it if we go out of town for the weekend. She does well with this, and It reduces destructive behavior. But not the poop problem. It's worth noting we don't leave town for a weekend all the time. And the pooping happens regardless if we've left town recently or not. I left it on her though in hopes it would help this too.
-Two litter boxes- I do not have a secondary location in the house where the dogs won't screw with the box, or watch her while she goes. But I tried putting it in the closet next to her electric one. She seems to prefer this box. But it's smaller, and she slings litter out in front of it. This worked for a couple of weeks. Even with me messing with her litter. (see below). But now, if there's 1 poop in the little box, she won't use the electric box. She poops in front of the other box.
-Different litter- trying out some of the silica litter to see if it helps reduce smells. She hated the fresh step brand. And let me know by promptly pooping next to her box. I'm trying to slowly swap her over to the micro crystal non-clumping cat litter now. I have it at about a 40/60 mix atm. (40% clay litter, 60% micro crystal litter). She seems to tolerate it about as well as regular cat litter so far. In that the pooping occurrences are about the same as they've always been.
-Cat litter attractant- Tried Dr Elsey's Cat Attract Litter Box Additive. She investigated the litter box with the cat attract. (I tried putting it in the electronic one first.) She investigated it, gave a "snort" and walked away. I don't think it's really doing anything. I have also tried putting into the secondary litter box too. No luck.
-Not cleaning the secondary box to encourage her to go back to the electric box.
-Re-Commitment to daily cleanings- The silica litter requires daily stirring anyways. So if there is a poo in the other box I'll scoop it out.
-Cleaning as soon as I see a poo. - Reduces problem but not fool proof. I have come in to see a poo on the floor, and both boxes are clean. (same with the electric box, even if receptacle isn't stuck open).
-Nature's Miracle- Clean area with Nature's Miracle. Works for about two weeks. Until she decides to poop there again. Then outside the box poopings increase until I clean the area with Nature's Miracle. Then the cycle starts all over again. I have also deep cleaned the whole closet and room with Nature's Miracle during her deep cleanings of her box.
-Trying to catch her in the act. Reprimand if she poops in the wrong place, and place her and her poo in the litter box. Quietly placing her poo in the box if I don't catch her in the act. If I catch her pooping in the right place, offering praise and pets.
Sorry for the book guys. But do you have any other ideas I might try? I really don't want to give up on her. It's the only behavioral problem she really has. I'm pretty damn fed up with it myself. I don't want to get rid of her, but I also don't want to deal with this for the next 18 years (or however long she lives) either. My husband has much less patience for it then I do, and already wants her gone. I want to exhaust all other options first. Maybe I'll find something that will stick.
 

susanm9006

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Do you know if she is pooping over the side of her box vs squatting along side it. In either case I would try large boxes, make them yourself out of low sided plastic tubs. And I do think you need two since she has told you she doesn’t like anything but a clean box. Until she uses a box consistently I would put an extra large puppy pad underneath each box just in case.

I would also make sure you are using an fragrance free litter. Some cats hate the scented kind.
 

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Have you discussed this with your vet, and when was her last checkup? My first thought was right in line with Graceful-Lily Graceful-Lily 's, to tell you the truth. If she is having some pain when pooping, she's going to associate the pain with the box, not her own body. That's the first thing...rule out any physical cause for this.

As a last resort, you could try crate training. It's a bit of a pain, but effective. It requires a crate large enough to contain her bed, food and water dishes, litter box, and a toy or two, and not a WHOLE lot of other space, just a couple of square feet. She'll need to be confined to it for several days. When she has no choice but to use the box, her bed, or her food and water dishes, in 999 cases out of 1,000, the cat chooses the litter box. It will take several days of her living in the crate...you want this habit to be firmly ingrained before giving her her freedom again. I know it sounds extreme, but trying to find a new home for a cat with litter box issues is almost impossible. When surrendered to shelters, most are euthanized for lack of space. This is certainly better than that.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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I'm not an expect and others with more insight will be along soon but perhaps she is associating the little box with bowel pain?
In her case, I don't think so. It's been going on since the day I got her. She has had a few vet exams since then, such as vaccines and when she got spayed. She got spayed probably 3 months after we got her. No vet has noticed anything out of the ordinary. She was also on a run of antibiotics following an unrelated injury this spring. She has also been dewormed a couple of times too. All her poops look normal. Nicely shaped logs. Not runny or soft. No mucous, not dry and pebble like, no weird colors, etc.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Do you know if she is pooping over the side of her box vs squatting along side it. In either case I would try large boxes, make them yourself out of low sided plastic tubs. And I do think you need two since she has told you she doesn’t like anything but a clean box. Until she uses a box consistently I would put an extra large puppy pad underneath each box just in case.

I would also make sure you are using an fragrance free litter. Some cats hate the scented kind.
Pooping next to it. I've watched her do it. The silica litter I'm switching her to is fragrance free I believe. I thought about trying one of those long skinny boxes like what you put under your bed. (Because it would fit nicely in the closet). But I'm afraid that while much longer then her other boxes I've tried, It might be too narrow.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Have you discussed this with your vet, and when was her last checkup? My first thought was right in line with Graceful-Lily Graceful-Lily 's, to tell you the truth. If she is having some pain when pooping, she's going to associate the pain with the box, not her own body. That's the first thing...rule out any physical cause for this.

As a last resort, you could try crate training. It's a bit of a pain, but effective. It requires a crate large enough to contain her bed, food and water dishes, litter box, and a toy or two, and not a WHOLE lot of other space, just a couple of square feet. She'll need to be confined to it for several days. When she has no choice but to use the box, her bed, or her food and water dishes, in 999 cases out of 1,000, the cat chooses the litter box. It will take several days of her living in the crate...you want this habit to be firmly ingrained before giving her her freedom again. I know it sounds extreme, but trying to find a new home for a cat with litter box issues is almost impossible. When surrendered to shelters, most are euthanized for lack of space. This is certainly better than that.
I have not officially tried this. I did however keep her in a crate for the first few days to be able to slowly introduce her to the house and it's resident dog. This was one of those times I watched her get in her box, dig, do a few spins, get out, poop next to it, and cover it with her blanket. I am going to my MIL's house this weekend.. Maybe I'll ask to borrow the medium dog kennel and re-visit this.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Sorry for the multiple replies in a row- I have not figured out how to edit so that everything was in one reply. If it's relevant, the dimensions to the robo-litterbox are 27"L by 18"W by 10"H. It's comparable in size to an extra large litter box. I believe her covered box was an extra large too.
 

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Is it possible she has any paw or leg issues? Does she cover her scent when she does use the litter box?

The fact she is going right next to it tells me she wants to use the litter box but there is some reason she decides not to. The feeling of the litter, the scent as you mention, some negative association, some pain (which is hard to know). The issue sure isn't obvious.

What was her injury she was treated for?

I would try to get the largest litter boxes and have 2 if possible even if they are near each other. It sounds like you have tried the privacy aspect etc.

How does she walk around? Tall, tail up, confident? Or something else. Does she avoid any areas?

Is the area where the boxes are against an outside wall? Do you have any ferals or other animals around the yard? Have you ever had animals in the walls, crawlspaces, ceilings, attic?

How does she get along with the dogs?
 

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The below comments you made struck a chord with me, and my gut says that they are involved in her issue.

I admittedly struggle with daily cleanings.
Not cleaning daily, and probably more likely multiple times a day is going to be an ongoing issue with her. This might mean at least 3 boxes for her alone if you can't keep them cleaned out each time she uses one of them. Keeping them scooped out all the time also reduces the smell that can be left in a box if the poop is in there for a period of time without being removed.
But I tried putting it in the closet next to her electric one. She seems to prefer this box.
She doesn't like the electric one and it would probably be best if you abandoned it altogether.
I have come in to see a poo on the floor, and both boxes are clean.
The boxes may be clean - no poop or pee in them, but if the litter was not completely removed and replaced at that time, it can still smell like poop. If it smells like poop to her, then to her it might as well have poop in it.
...Then outside the box poopings increase until I clean the area with Nature's Miracle...I have also deep cleaned the whole closet and room with Nature's Miracle during her deep cleanings of her box.
Each time she poops outside the box, the area must be cleaned, otherwise it just encourages her to use that spot again and again until it is cleaned again. Also, I don't know what you mean by 'deep cleanings' - is that a thorough washing/disinfecting of the box and all new litter? If not, that might also be contributing.

The key is to get her to stop, and once you have, some of things you might have to adjust for her now could be discontinued down the road.

Lastly, I know you said don't have other places to put the boxes, but by being inside a closet it probably 'retains the odor' more than an more open space would, which could also bother her given her 'pickiness".

As far as editing posts - once you are a member for 5 days, and reach 20 posts, you'll have the option to edit message for 120 minutes. See more info about that here: Promotions and Benefits.

I hope some of what I have noted will help - at least a little bit!!
 

Mamanyt1953

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The easiest way to reply to multiple responses is to hit the "quote" button at the bottom of the post you want to respond to, then when you get to the response box, at the bottom left, you will see a "insert quotes' button. Hit that. It will insert the quotes into your response box. OR, if you just want to respond to, say, one sentence in a longer post, highlight that sentence, and you will set a "quote" button pop up below the highlighted area. Click on that, and it will do the same thing.
 

calicosrspecial

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Also, cats respond to the very slightest changes. Especially stress levels. Does this happen when stress in the household is elevated? A cat can tell when someone doesn't want them etc. And I wonder if the cat is picking up on your husbands emotions and then gets stressed and goes outside of the box?

Does your husband ever feed her, pet her, talk to her, cuddle, etc?

Do the dogs bark a lot? Chase the cat? Etc. Do you see a change in the way the cat walks around etc if the dogs are more wild or loud?

Feebysowner makes a lot of great points in her post.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Is it possible she has any paw or leg issues? Does she cover her scent when she does use the litter box?

The fact she is going right next to it tells me she wants to use the litter box but there is some reason she decides not to. The feeling of the litter, the scent as you mention, some negative association, some pain (which is hard to know). The issue sure isn't obvious.

What was her injury she was treated for?

I would try to get the largest litter boxes and have 2 if possible even if they are near each other. It sounds like you have tried the privacy aspect etc.

How does she walk around? Tall, tail up, confident? Or something else. Does she avoid any areas?

Is the area where the boxes are against an outside wall? Do you have any ferals or other animals around the yard? Have you ever had animals in the walls, crawlspaces, ceilings, attic?

How does she get along with the dogs?
-The injury was a laceration on her foot. I found her outside under the porch injured.(Actually my dog told me by whining and sniffing.) Took her to the vet immediately and got her stitches. She was recovered very well. This issue was already established before this though. And has not been exacerbated by it either.
-She does not have any other foot type issues. She does not choose to cover her poop most of the time. She just leaves it laying right on top. She is very meticulous about wiping her feet when done though.
-She's a very confident cat. Tail up, ears forward. Chirps and meows, says hello, that kind of thing. She's also pretty social. Out and about through the house. Unless she's napping somewhere.
- Her litter box is literally in the guest bedroom closet. The closet is open however. But, she can't see anything from where she goes potty. There is a stray cat that has hung around the front of our house as has since we moved in. We don't feed the cat. But she can see it when it walks by the guest bedroom window.
-The dogs are kenneled during the day, and cant have access to her room either when we are home.
-No pests in the house. Mice sometimes appear in the garage, and she's been known to catch them outside.
-She gets along well with the dogs. They groom each other, play together, and she sleeps next to them. She also has the guest bedroom blocked with a baby gate for if she wants to get away from the dogs.
-HATES other cats though. She'll screech at them through the window if one shows up somewhere.
 

calicosrspecial

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Interesting that she doesn't normally cover when she does go in the litter box. Cats typically want to cover their scent so not covering suggests she may possibly want someone to know this is "her" territory. Or she doesn't like the feel of covering.

Does going outside of the litter box happen only at certain times of the day or is it anytime?

She doesn't avoid any areas?

Does she go outside of the house? On a leash or just outside? how often? Is there any correlation of being outside and shortly thereafter going outside of the box?

Can you step up play with her in the guest bedroom and then after a play session feed her treats in the guest bedroom.Even though she is confident I would like to see if building her confidence in that room might help.

We'll figure this out. Cats want to use the litter box so we have instinct on our side. We just need to figure out what is bothering her. A lot of great people helping out on here.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Each time she poops outside the box, the area must be cleaned, otherwise it just encourages her to use that spot again and again until it is cleaned again. Also, I don't know what you mean by 'deep cleanings' - is that a thorough washing/disinfecting of the box and all new litter? If not, that might also be contributing.
Deep cleaning= Remove boxes from closets and dump old litter. Clean the litter box with bleach. Then soap and water, and dry. While boxes are out of closet, vacuum any tracked litter from carpet. Spray all carpet with nature's miracle cleaner. Put boxes back in closet.

The boxes may be clean - no poop or pee in them, but if the litter was not completely removed and replaced at that time, it can still smell like poop. If it smells like poop to her, then to her it might as well have poop in it.
If it's possible she's that picky. (Can smell the poo even though I've removed it) should I just swap to super cheap clay litter and completely replace it weekly? I usually completely replace her litter (Dump out old litter and replace with fresh) monthly. Odor reduction is what I was hoping to accomplish with silica litter. But at 12.99 for a 5lb bag (basically one box worth) I cannot afford to replace that weekly.
Does your husband ever feed her, pet her, talk to her, cuddle, etc?
Yes. He pets her and love on her. He does find it funny to annoy her sometimes though. And does not accept her into his lap very much. Like she'll jump on the couch and he'll shoo her away. Especially if we're snuggling. She does like to be really in your face though.
Do the dogs bark a lot? Chase the cat? Etc. Do you see a change in the way the cat walks around etc if the dogs are more wild or loud?
So, she appears to initiate games of chase. Like she'll run through the room and stop and wait to see if the dogs notice. Sees they're oblivious, and runs through the room again. She gets the attention of one (usually the younger, 2 year old dog) and rolls on her back in the hallway. They then seem to play this game where the dog mouths her, and she swats and mouths back. You ever see two cats wrestling but it's not a cat fight? It's just like that. The dog walks away and she lays there looking offended the dog left. And then lays on her back and gently swats at the dog to get her to resume the game. If the dog is too annoying or something during the game, she simply gets up and leaves. If the dogs are wrestling with each other, or playing fetch she goes to her room.
As for the barking? They all like to look out the back window. Sometimes they bark if a dog or person walks by. She does not seem bothered by this. She also allows herself to be groomed by the dogs, and grooms them back. They seem to have a pretty good relationship as far as dogs and cats are concerned.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Does going outside of the litter box happen only at certain times of the day or is it anytime?
It seems to not have any specific time of day.

She doesn't avoid any areas?
Nope. She peruses through the entire house. We do not give her access to the garage or basement(it's unfinished). But she would be there too if we let her.
Does she go outside of the house? On a leash or just outside? how often? Is there any correlation of being outside and shortly thereafter going outside of the box?
Yes I let her out during the day. She typically sticks around the house. I have not noticed a direct correlation between coming in from outside and pooping outside the box specifically. She does come in and immediately head to the litterbox sometimes though. I will have to pay closer attention to this.
an you step up play with her in the guest bedroom and then after a play session feed her treats in the guest bedroom.Even though she is confident I would like to see if building her confidence in that room might help.
Most of her play sessions are in that room. All her toys are there too. That way the dogs wont eat them. Maybe I will increase her play sessions then.
 

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If it's possible she's that picky. (Can smell the poo even though I've removed it) should I just swap to super cheap clay litter and completely replace it weekly? I usually completely replace her litter (Dump out old litter and replace with fresh) monthly. Odor reduction is what I was hoping to accomplish with silica litter. But at 12.99 for a 5lb bag (basically one box worth) I cannot afford to replace that weekly.
I'd try it, just to see if it would make any difference. If it doesn't, it doesn't, but at least that is one thing you would have ruled out. Since she does seem to be on the picky side, you might want to gradually change out the litter rather than change it all at once.

Her not covering her poo is adding to the problem, no doubt. But, not much you can do about that. Feeby doesn't cover hers either - probably about 95% of the time.
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Man.. I've spent a good chunk already getting her used to silica litter, lol. I wonder if it would be worth finishing the silica transition first? Or should I just stop mid-transition and go with the cheapest clay I can find and immediately going to swapping her out weekly. I'm tempted to try the bigger box thing first. But I've already spent soo much money on this already!
 

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Man.. I've spent a good chunk already getting her used to silica litter, lol. I wonder if it would be worth finishing the silica transition first? Or should I just stop mid-transition and go with the cheapest clay I can find and immediately going to swapping her out weekly. I'm tempted to try the bigger box thing first. But I've already spent soo much money on this already!
Then, try the bigger box(es) first. It's going to be ruling one thing out at a time anyway - too many changes at once and you will never know for sure which one(s) helped!!
 
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Crafty_Camper123

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Then, try the bigger box(es) first. It's going to be ruling one thing out at a time anyway - too many changes at once and you will never know for sure which one(s) helped!!
True. I'm going to swap out the little spare box for a bigger box I already have on hand (it's an XL), and re-clean the area with Natures Miracle tonight and see how that does. I'll try to by hypervigilant on keeping her box clean. I'll see what that does I guess. It's frustrating though. Miss 1 poo and BAM...💩

Thank you all for your quick responses and help. That gave me a few things to chew on. If anyone has anything else to mention though I'll still be listening.
 
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