Completely confounded by elimination issue

tpapictures

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Our cat is pooing outside his box, but wait there are details to know.

- it's not health related. Recent check up, blood work and urinalysis all were fine
- he uses the other litter in the apartment, we have a three bedroom apartment one litter is on one side of the apartment, the other is on the other side.
- both litters are big enough for him and the other cat to easily fit inside, they are not covered
- he DOES poo in the other box, but in this particular room he basically ONLY poos on the floor
- he is eating fine, his behaviour is fine otherwise

Things we've considered:
  1. There is a possibility some trauma causing interaction happened between the cats in that room, the other cat can be very obsessively domineering about what THIS cat does. But the rest of the time which is a good 85% of the time, they both tolerate each other and even like being around each other. This other cat has been ill in the past year and was definitely more touchy and irritable but we're getting over that, he's doing better. But the one with the elimination issue has been doing this for longer than the other cat was ill so there's possibly still some lingering bullying issues or simply conditioning from past bullying around the litterbox. Still doesn't answer why there are no problems in the other litter though.
  2. We've tried three different litters, it doesn't appear to be textural but maybe we're not testing long enough
  3. When he poos it's always in the same place, clear view of the window in that room, could he have seen a squirrel or something on the window sill and he now feels he needs to defend or mark that room daily?
  4. To rule out whether it was the litter itself he was protesting about, we moved it to another part of the room. He pood in the same spot, it has nothing to do with where the litter is.
  5. He is extremely finnicky about food, but he does eat well.
  6. Last night we took our third litter we have (a smaller travel litter than the other two) and we put it where he always goes in to poo in that room and when we woke up he had used it to pee. So... he's fine with using a litter in that spot, but he ALWAYS pees in all the boxes. It's just the poo he INSISTS on doing in that spot. So we're gonna see today if he uses this third litter to poo at some point. Is it all just that he particularly needs a third box.
My wife and I know a lot about feline behaviour, we've had cats for 15 years but we have never had behaviour be this inexplicably hard to solve. We know we want to fix this so he can be happy. If you have any thoughts, we are out of ideas, but we'll keep trying. The rest of the time, as I say, he's perfectly happy. So I don't think he's miserable, but something has convinced him that THAT is where he should poo.

Thank you!!
 

Furballsmom

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Hi, and welcome! You've listed just about all the things I would have considered :)
Have you used an enzymatic cleaner on that spot? Do you have calming products?

Hopefully he'll utilize the third litter box for his business :vibes::crossfingers:
 

Alldara

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I think that third box might solve the problem.

Are the poos hard?

Is one of the other boxes you tried before a covered box? He might prefer the safety of a covered box OR a box within another object.
 

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rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. I have experience with a cat pooping outside the litter box, and though we haven't totally eliminated (pun intended) the problem, it's 99% better. With my Ruby the main change was moving the litter box from the basement to the main floor. Possibly she didn't like having to use the stairs, but it's made a huge difference.

She does still have the occasional accident, especially when her stools are either too soft or too hard, but I think those truly are accidents.

So either moving one of the litter boxes or adding a third one might help.

Sorry if I missed it, but how old is your cat, and when did this issue start?
 
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tpapictures

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Sorry if I missed it, but how old is your cat, and when did this issue start?
I hadn't said :) he's 11 and it's for the last year that it's been a thing that will appear for a few weeks and then go away again. I would say he did it for the first time 2 years ago in a different place. It's been more recently which has coincided with being in a bigger apartment we moved to 6 months ago and our other cat having been ill and slowly getting better.
 

rubysmama

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Since it comes and goes, wonder if it has anything to do with his digestive system? Does he have any food allergies or issues with food? Could also have something to do with the new place, or your other cat being ill. Hopefully moving the litter box. or putting out a new one, will help. Good luck. Keep us posted.
 
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tpapictures

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Ok, everyone. Update.

We took, as we had mentioned, our travel litter. It's a smaller litter that fits in the car and that we keep for when we go on trips with the cats anywhere (...to be honest we haven't gone on any trips in years but when we've moved twice it's been what we've used during the move because we always rent short term apartments for a week during our moves so that the cats never see the move in or the move out, just two places and boxes. Minimises stress for them).

So we placed the third litter where the "drop zones" were. We considered putting the new litter in another room on its own but the desire to give him a litter where the problems were took priority over spreading things out. Also, behaviourally, we wanted to give the boys a chance to have to sort of "soft reboot" territory or dominance in that room by having to adjust to a new litter being there, and thereby -- hopefully -- deprogramming some of the bullying and defensiveness that may have 'infected' that room when we moved in here.

Second tactic we employed at the same time. We have certain blankets, cushioned pads from old beds, scratching sisal carpets laid around the house and on window sills that we keep out all the time. We took one particularly favourite one to both of them and rubbed it all around the affected area and around the entire permiter of the room at their head level and along the floor. We do this rubbing of the blanket when we got to the vet on the cat coming back from the vet, on the carrier and even on us a bit and it 100% mitigates stress and confusion from the cat that stays home about the smells that come back into our home.

We also plugged a Feliway Optimum in there as well. We don't have 100% reliance or trust in those things but a positive potential reinforcement of pheromones, even if it did a tiny bit, might be a little bit of seasong salt on the dish even if it didn't help with the main flavour of what we were trying to do in there.

Thursday, no problems. But no poo by Gabin (the cat in question). Normal use by Bowlly (other cat).
Friday, first poo by Gabin, IN a box, but not the box in the affected area. But a pee there instead.
Today, a pee in the morning in that box. And just now a poo by him too. Bowlly, doing his business in both.

Now, then... We will continue to monitor for any unwanted activity. We're going to sit in there later with them and do a treat/play session to encourage a group positivity mood now that we have functional operations in the 'engineering department'.
 
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Furballsmom

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Now, then... We will continue to monitor for any unwanted activity. We're going to sit in there later with them and do a treat/play session to encourage a group positivity mood now that we have functional operations in the 'engineering department'.
This is fantastic! All my thoughts and good vibes to all of you that things continue in such a positive manner :vibes::crossfingers::heartshape:
 

rubysmama

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Now, then... We will continue to monitor for any unwanted activity. We're going to sit in there later with them and do a treat/play session to encourage a group positivity mood now that we have functional operations in the 'engineering department'.
Thanks for the update. Fingers crossed for continued proper litter box usage. :crossfingers:
 
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tpapictures

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Just reporting that everything is still ok.
During this process we've also switched to a new litter, though this wasn't a factor in the initial issues and resolution. There is a degree to which the cats' better relations have improved things in all parts of our home, but I think the adding of a third litter can't be underestimated especially given how our cat with the issues took to the third litter quickly which then built his confidence about going to the old one. But he definitely hesitates and smells the older litter a lot which and always has done which is why we're switching.
 

KittenAppliance

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Wait, just so im understanding this correctly.... the cat now poos in the third litter box when it is placed in the spot he was pooing on the floor???
 
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