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Closet Pooping

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by mrsnides5, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. mrsnides5

    mrsnides5 TCS Member Kitten

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Hello,

    I have a one year old adult, neutered male cat that was recently introduced to a house that consists of a female four month old kitten and a female 5 year old Persian cat. The introduction went well and they love being around each other.

    However, the male cat likes to poop in my roommates closet. I have tried every cleaner I can find, even cat specific ones. He just likes to poop in her closet. I have added more litter boxes (up to five of various types) in three different rooms. I have even locked him in a room with a litter box, food, and water over night and have still had no luck. I've tried putting carpet in the boxes as well, but nothing has been working.

    Please, someone help me. He was recently adopted and if this behavior isn't fixed, he may have to return to the shelter I got him from. They have no record of this issue with him, so I really have no idea what to do at this point!

    Please please please help me! I would hate to give him back after getting so attached!

    Thanks,
    Maddy
     
  2. ondine

    ondine Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    I am wondering what it is about the closet that is so attractive. Adding boxes was a good idea; he may need a box or two all to himself. Some cats prefer one box for pee and another for poop.

    Another thing that occurred to me was that he might not like being observed when he poops. I know I had to move some of my boxes away from the wall, as one of our cats would run to watch when another was using the box. No idea why but when I moved the box, it stopped.

    Any chance you can put a box inside the roommate's closet? (Just kidding but in the room and keep the closet door shut?)
     
  3. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

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    Upstate NY
    Maddy, is he constipated at all? Is he getting any canned food or just dry?
     
  4. Columbine

    Columbine Slave to the Asha-Cat❤️ & the Trouble Twins❤️ Staff Member Advisor

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    The kitty playground
    How are things now, @mrsnides5?

    Have you had your boy checked out by a vet? Going outside the box, even if only in a specific place, can often be caused by health issues. I always like to rule those out first when dealing with any kind of litterbox issue, especially a persistent one like this.
    Litterbox Problems? Here's Why You Should Call Your Vet
    How To Solve Litterbox Problems In Cats: The Ultimate Guide
    Everything You Need To Know About Constipation In Cats

    In terms of practical measures, the simplest solution would be for your roommate to keep their door shut, as @ondine suggests. Stress might be a factor too, especially as he's recently adopted, so simple stress busting measures like Feliway, and maybe even a calming supplement such as Composure, might be worth a go. Daily interactive playtime is invaluable too - it's a wonderful stress buster, and it will help him gain confidence in his new territory (invaluable if the issue has a territorial/marking component - more unusual with poop, but possible).
    Is Your Cat Stressed Out?
    Six Surefire Strategies To Reduce Stress In Cats
    You, Your Cat And Stress
    Playing With Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know
     
  5. mrsnides5

    mrsnides5 TCS Member Kitten

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Hey guys,

    Sorry for the delay, but I wanted to give him some extra time to see if that helps. I tried putting a box in the exact spot he keeps going with no luck (went right beside it). It seems of normal consistence, maybe a smig on the diarrhea side. When he was taken to the vet (just before I posted last time), he had a couple roundworm eggs, but has since been on meds. He goes tomorrow to check for the all clear. AS for food, he's on science diet currently, and he gets wet once a week (I can't afford much beyond that). Behavior wise, if he wasn't relaxed before, he definitely is now, which still makes this whole pooping in the closet thing interesting.

    My roommate said she'll try to keep her door closed, but her room gets super hot very quickly. We've tried gates and things, but Caribou can jump over your generic gate. She's given me one more month to figure this out or he has to go (she's also my landlord, so she has last say).

    So far my attempts to stop the closet pooping have been unsuccessful, so if you can give me any more help, I would truly appreciate it! I would hate to take this sweet boy back to a shelter!
     
  6. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

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    Upstate NY
    Can you afford 1 can of Fancy Feast or half a can of Friskies per day? Friskies is only 50 cents here at Walmart, so that's just 25 cents a day. Getting more moisture into him with canned food might help. Did the vet give him the second dose of de-wormer after two weeks to kill the roundworm eggs that hatch? Also, if he has a hairball problem, maybe a hairball paste a few times a week would help his poop come out easier. I feel like he might be avoiding the litter box because the poop hurts coming out.
     
  7. LTS3

    LTS3 TCS Member Top Cat

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    Could the roommate just keep the closet door closed so your cat can't go in there to poop?
     
    maggiedemi purraised this.
  8. mrsnides5

    mrsnides5 TCS Member Kitten

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    I can go up to three wet feeds a week, but he seems to prefer the dry to the wet (which is a bit strange). He had already received the second dose of dewormer and got the all clear this morning at the vet. I had him on a hairball paste for a few weeks (he was not a fan) and it didn't seem to help much. I got him an extra large box, which i have inside a bigger tub for privacy. He seems to not care, just likes his one spot.

    As for my roommate closing her door, her closet doesn't have a door.
     
    maggiedemi purraised this.
  9. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

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    Yeah, see if you can add 3oz of wet per day along with his dry food.
     
  10. Columbine

    Columbine Slave to the Asha-Cat❤️ & the Trouble Twins❤️ Staff Member Advisor

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    The kitty playground
    Hmm...there must be something we're missing here :think: Cats really don't go outside the box for no reason...its just that finding that reason isn't always easy.

    Some more questions here. I know there are a lot, but please bear with me ;) :-
    Where do the other cats hang out/where are their special places?
    Where does your boy hang out/where are his favourite places?
    Where in the closet does he poop - is it always the same place?
    What's different/special about that place compared to the rest of the house? (no matter how minor it might seem)
    Does your roommate work with animals?
    Is your boy declawed?
    What type of litter do you use, and is he comfortable digging and walking on it?
    Has either of the other cats ambushed, pounced or watched him while he was pooping in the past?
    Out of the cats, who's in charge?
    Did anything in your household/building, however small it might seem, change or happen just before this started?
    Has he ever had urinary issues or constipation in the past?
    Is or was the closet a safe space for him?(ie somewhere he'd hide when startled, stressed or anxious)
    How did the introductions go between him and the other two cats? Were there ever any problems?
    How long have you been living there with him?
    Does he show any other signs of stress, no matter how small?
    Is there any pattern to this pooping? Is it every day or only sometimes?
    When was the last time he pooped in a box?
    What's the litterbox setup? Is there any chance one of the other cats is blocking him from getting to the box?
    What's his daily routine?
    What's the difference between your closet and your roommate's?(trying to work out why there in particular)
    Does he spend time in the closet when his poop is in there?
    How confident is he? Is he shy and nervy or outgoing and relaxed?

    I know that's a huge list, and I'm sorry for that. I'm just trying to understand what's going on in his kitty brain :winkcat:

    There are ways to keep all three cats out of your roommate's room (or possibly just her closet) but, to me, it's important to try and understand what's going on first. Without that missing puzzle piece, you risk just relocating the behaviour to another area of the house.
     
  11. mrsnides5

    mrsnides5 TCS Member Kitten

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    Jun 30, 2017
    More questions the better! Never know what I might have missed!


    Where do the other cats hang out/where are their special places?
    -All the cats have free range of a 3 bed, 2 bath, two story home. The older female Persian likes to stay in the main bedroom, the kitten (4 mo) likes the downstairs bedroom, Caribou (the cat this post is able) tends to have the spare bedroom all to himself.

    Where does your boy hang out/where are his favourite places?
    -He tends to follow me around more than anything, laying out on the floor. At night specifically, he tends to stay in the spare bedroom (like the ground view the window gives him).

    Where in the closet does he poop - is it always the same place?
    -The closest he has been pooping in is in the main bedroom, which is a large, open walk in closet. He tends to poop on the left hand side, right inside the archway.

    What's different/special about that place compared to the rest of the house? (no matter how minor it might seem)
    -If anything, it's opposite of what I would have expected from him. It's not a small space, there's nothing on the floor (my roommate is very clean person). She and I used the same laundry detergent and stuff so it couldn't be a smell thing. I've even left the closet in the spare bedroom open and he still goes to her room. Her room is on the main floor (second story is more of a basement), but the spare and my room are in the basement. She keeps a litter box in her bathroom (less that 15 ft from her closet) and all cats have access to that.

    Does your roommate work with animals?
    -No she doesn't. I'm the one that works with fish and amphibians.

    Is your boy declawed?
    -No he is not, but he's crazy good with them (had no idea he had them for about 2 weeks).

    What type of litter do you use, and is he comfortable digging and walking on it?
    -We use tidy cats, three different ones (the Persian can be picky). We use multi cat, 24/7, and 4 in 1 strength. My assumption would be that he is comfortable with all three as I've seen him teaching the kitten to dig in them.

    Has either of the other cats ambushed, pounced or watched him while he was pooping in the past?
    -I can not guarantee that, but I know the kitten will try to play when he's in an open litterbox. He also was a stray that was picked up by the shelter I got him from, so I assume he was used to being watched and such.

    Out of the cats, who's in charge?
    -That is actually a tough question. I think the Persian is, but she tends to keep to herself and just watch from perches. The kitten thinks she is, but in reality, Caribou is probably the one in charge between him and the kitten.

    Did anything in your household/building, however small it might seem, change or happen just before this started?
    -The only change in the last months has been bringing him into the house. My fiance visited for a few days a week ago, but Caribou absolutely adored him while he was here (maybe he likes men more than women?).

    Has he ever had urinary issues or constipation in the past?
    -The shelter that I got him from did not have any record of those issues with him and they had a vet look him over three times from Feb-June (including a week before I picked him up). My vet also cleared him.

    Is or was the closet a safe space for him?(ie somewhere he'd hide when startled, stressed or anxious)
    -I don't think so just because that's where the Persian likes to be. The only time he seemed stressed/startled, he ran for the spare bedroom.

    How did the introductions go between him and the other two cats? Were there ever any problems?
    -Not that I noticed. He and the kitten started playing under the door in the first night together. He and the Persian just kind of respect each other's space when the other is in the room. I kept him isolated for about 4 days, at which point he darted out of the spare bedroom, rolled over, and started playing with the kitten.

    How long have you been living there with him?
    -I adopted him June 26th, met him two weeks prior. The closet pooping started three weeks after he moved in.

    Does he show any other signs of stress, no matter how small?
    -If he's stressed, he doesn't show a single sign. He talks constantly, loves to be petted, lounges everywhere.

    Is there any pattern to this pooping? Is it every day or only sometimes?
    -I bet it would be every day, but my roommate keeps her door closed as best she can. If she leaves it open for even 10 minutes, he goes and poops in her closet.

    When was the last time he pooped in a box?
    -When he can't get to her closet, he only goes in the box. Other than the closet pooping, the only other accidents in the house were when the kitten was sick (which was before Caribou came into the house).

    What's the litterbox setup? Is there any chance one of the other cats is blocking him from getting to the box?
    -There are five boxes in the house. Two in the laundry room (open and closed), one in my roommates bathroom (open), an extra long one that I put inside a rubber made container and cut the ends off of in the spare bedroom, and another open one in my bathroom. I assumed that with the boxes spread out and with different types, the chances of one cat always blocking him is highly unlikely.

    What's his daily routine?
    -To be honest, it's following around whoever is in the house. He likes to always know what's going on and where everyone is at. Usually he eats a bit in the evening and a bit in the morning. Tried to do some treat positive reinforcement when I notice him leaving a box, but he doesn't like treats.


    What's the difference between your closet and your roommate's?(trying to work out why there in particular)
    -My closet have a door and I keep it closed all the time. It's a bunch smaller than my roommates as well. My room is also on the lower level, while her's is on the main floor.

    Does he spend time in the closet when his poop is in there?
    -I assume no. Like I said, if she leaves her bedroom door open for 10 minutes, he's in and out before she even knows the door is open.

    How confident is he? Is he shy and nervy or outgoing and relaxed?
    -He's super outgoing. Very talkative, likes new people, loves just about everything (cats, dogs), loud noises don't bother him (LOVED watching fireworks from our windows).

    Caribou is probably the best cat I've ever met (maybe could be a bit quieter at night, but that's minor to me).
     
  12. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

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    Upstate NY
    Oh man, my cats hated the new Tidy Cats scents, especially 4-in-1 and Glade. They would not cover their pee and they were tracking wet pee all over. The 4-in-1 smells like grape soda and the Glade smells like chemicals. I would try switching litters for a month and see if that helps. Or at least avoid the 4-in-1 and Glade. I've never had a problem like that before, but they hated it.
     
  13. Columbine

    Columbine Slave to the Asha-Cat❤️ & the Trouble Twins❤️ Staff Member Advisor

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    That's really helpful, and has definitely eliminated a lot of causes/triggers :thumbsup: From all of that, my instinct is that it's either a dominance issue with Caribou trying to challenge the older Persian's position, or it started initially as a fear response (all kinds of scary things can be seen out of windows, and Caribou may have run to your roommate's closet to hide and happened to poop from anxiety/fear) which then became habitual - likely as a result of the smell being there.

    Either way, I feel comfortable now to go ahead and suggest trying Ssscat air canisters at the entrance to your roommate's closet. I just wanted to be sure there weren't any stresses contributing to this behaviour before suggesting it, as I'm a firm believer in addressing the cause before fixating on the symptom alone ;) Something else to try might be interactive playtime in your roommate's bedroom, so all three cats can begin to own the area equally. Hopefully a combination of the two will resolve the issue :crossfingers: It sounds like you have a wonderful kitty family between you, and it would be a shame to have to split them up!

    Caribou sounds absolutely wonderful - such a character! I love larger than life cats like that - so much fun to have around :D :cloud9:
     
    mrsgreenjeens purraised this.
  14. mrsnides5

    mrsnides5 TCS Member Kitten

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Playing in the room was a good start. Caribou is the only cat that chases laser pointers, which my roommate finds hilarious.

    As far as the Ssscat stuff, my main concern would be if that would deter all three from her room. She really likes sleeping with her Persian, so I wouldn't want to deter the older cat from going in her room (when I say older, she's like five. She's just older than the other two).
     
  15. Columbine

    Columbine Slave to the Asha-Cat❤️ & the Trouble Twins❤️ Staff Member Advisor

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    If the Ssscat is only at the entrance to her closet, it shouldn't deter the cats from her bedroom itself - just that part of it :) I believe @red top rescue has used them. Hopefully she'll chime in with her experiences.
     
  16. Columbine

    Columbine Slave to the Asha-Cat❤️ & the Trouble Twins❤️ Staff Member Advisor

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    I've been thinking some more, and there are a couple of other, more targeted things to try in the closet itself. Putting something on the closet floor that Caribou won't want to walk on could work. Check out the 'surface covering' section of this article for ideas. Be sure to cover a large enough area, as you don't want to just shift the pooping to a different bit of the closet ;)

    Another option, maybe in conjunction with the floor covering, could be to bring in another way for him to own the space more positively. Get come cheap cardboard scratchers and have him use them for a week or so (to get his scent nicely into them first). Then put them in the closet for him, so he has a positive scent marking option available. I'm sure all three cats will end up using them, but that's ok. Scratching mats would work too, but cardboard scratchers tend to be more popular in my experience.

    Lastly, get a backlight and thoroughly check the closet for any remaining traces of his pooping. Poop is generally much easier to thoroughly remove than pee, but there's still a change that some small traces remain - undetectable to humans, but just enough to be a little flag saying 'come poop here' to Caribou.

    I really hope sone combination of these ideas work for you :crossfingers::vibes: Do come back and let us know how it goes :)
     
    mrsgreenjeens and jcat purraised this.
  17. mrsnides5

    mrsnides5 TCS Member Kitten

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    Jun 30, 2017
    I wanted to give you all an update. I changed litters to something that was higher recommended (nature's miracle, pros, arm and hammer), and that made things worse. This afternoon he pooped in the middle of the living room, I mean in the MIDDLE of the living room. The Ssscat cat kind of works, but he's a quick learner and figured out that if he runs fast enough, he can get through it without any noise (plus I'm pretty sure he likes loud noises). The scratching post sort of worked, but he only likes to scratch the tree when it's in his room (the spare bedroom). We blacklighted the entire house and the only place with cat markings was in the laundry room (where the litter boxes are filled). I even when out and bought a spike mat (we use to quickly teach puppies off limit places). He poops right next to the mat. Wet food doesn't help either, he just licks the gravy off then whines likes I starve him.

    I'm honestly at wits end with him, and it's starting to cause me some anxiety. I'm not sure how much longer my roommate will put up with this if he goes in the living room again (or anywhere else for that matter).

    PLEASE, more suggestions to try! Something has got to work!
     
  18. Columbine

    Columbine Slave to the Asha-Cat❤️ & the Trouble Twins❤️ Staff Member Advisor

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    Oh no :( I'm so sorry you're still no further forward. :crossfingers: that the living room poop was a one off reaction to the litter change. :vibes:that it doesn't happen again.

    The only other thing I can think of is to try a pet gate in the entrance to the closet (or even the bedroom). It might not work, as he might be able to jump it, but I'm out of ideas :frown: I guess you could look into anti anxiety meds as a last resort, but I'm not convinced that this behaviour is anxiety based. It is an option, all the same.

    Hopefully other members will have some more ideas for you to try :crossfingers: I'm so sorry I can't be of more help.
     
  19. Norachan

    Norachan Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This is a tough one. Just a couple of ideas off the top of my head;

    Does he only ever poop in the closet or does he use his litter box sometimes?

    Is there a chance he is slightly bowel incontinent?

    This can happen when cats have had a bad worm infestation or haven't been fed properly (as in strays forced to hunt and scavenge for a while) It can also happen if a cat has nerve damage to his spine. Do you know anything about his history before he was at the shelter?

    Another thing you could try is dirt from your backyard in the litter box. Some cats prefer that to other kinds of litter.

    Thank you for being so patient with Caribou. He sounds like a great cat, hope you can work this pooping problem out.
     
  20. jcat

    jcat Mo(w)gli's can opener Staff Member Moderator

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    The only thing I don't think has been mentioned is feeding him in the closet where he's pooping, so that he learns to associate that location with food rather than eliminating.
     

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