My 1.5 yr old cat steps on her poop while using the litterbox, and tracks poop around the house.

maevin502

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I am a new pet owner. I adopted a 1.5 year old, spayed, domestic short hair cat from a shelter about a month ago. I have no other pets. She has a wonderful and playful personality, but she has a problem of stepping on her poop while burying her poop in the litterbox. I estimate only about 25% of the time, she does not step on her poop and her poop is perfectly buried. Based on what I've observed, she does not step on her urine in the litterbox.

I researched as much as I can about this issue- I got her 2 large litterboxes, filled her litterbox with litter 3-4 inches deep with the same litter she used in the shelter. I scoop her litterbox multiple times a day. I try to remove as much poop as possible including the little tiny ones that fall through the scooper slit, and I change the entire litter weekly. I am feeding her the exact same food the shelter used, and never fed her human food.

Her paws smell like poop, and I see poop smears in the house. When I inspect her paws, she has poop in between her toes. I looked online everywhere and I cannot find a solution. I am at my wit's end that every day I have to clean her paws with pet wipes or a damp towel. Can someone please help me with this issue?
 

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To have to change the litter entirely so much you must be using non-scoopable? I would switch to clumping litter to make it a little easier, and this would firm up any urine and feces more quickly. Because she is new, (cats take several months to get used to a new situation), she may be rushed in covering her droppings and this may resolve in time. Make sure she has privacy and that the boxes are placed so she does not have to go a long way to use them, thus being rushed. Her droppings must be very soft to get up into her pads, maybe you do need to switch foods and see if you can firm up her feces. It usually is firm enough to not smear like that. Just make sure she gets enough water to keep hydrated and not get constipated. Make sure you have a good litter collecting mat in front of the box to try to keep her feet clean. I have a feeling she will do better in the future.
 
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maevin502

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Thanks for the reply. I am using clumping litter
(Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal, Fresh Step Clean Paws). I changed her litter often because I had to clean the litterbox- the sidewalls had smeared poop on them.

She has two litterboxes: one of them is a regular pan design, and the other is a hooded design. She uses them randomly, but has a preference for the pan one.

Her poop does seem to be soft, so I've experimented with mixture of wet food and dry food, and cat probiotics.

When she needs to poop, she starts digging through the litter first, but then defecates on the top mound of the litter. She then turns around to smell her poop, and tries to bury her poop. During the process, she steps on poop, and pushes the poop around the litter box, causing the poop to break up into small fragments. She MOSTLY gets poop stuck on her hind paws, and rarely on her front paws. I can't can't tell if this means she was improperly litter box trained. Does anyone know what this means?
 

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Hi. I would definitely look into ways to firm up her stool. Plain pumpkin or psyllium are two different products you could try - it is always a good idea to talk to your vet to see if they would recommend something or at least OK home remedies like I've mentioned. You didn't mention whether or not her poop smells especially foul, but if it does that could be another aspect of her food not agreeing with her entirely. There is a good possibility her litter box routine might improve with firmer stools, as well as less smelly ones. She might be a bit more obsessed with it being too soft (and, smelly).

The other issue might be the litter box is really too small for her liking and with a bigger one she would less inclined to step in it.
 
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maevin502

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It's hard for me to tell what's normal or abnormal because I've never owned a pet before. When she poops, the room with the windows closed mildly smells like poop for 1-3 minutes before the smell completely dissipates. If she poops at night in the litterbox, I do not smell the poop the next morning.

I can say that her poop smell during the first week at home was the worst. It was mild diarrhea, but I suspect it happened due to the new environment. Since then, her poop has gradually become less smelly and less mushy. At the time, the way I would describe it is the whole house had a strong poop smell after she pooped, even with the windows opened.

Now, when I scoop her poop, the poop occasionally breaks into two, and I can see the middle core of the poop is moist. I've never seen her poop that was rock solid since I've adopted her.

I also noticed that she poops, the poop look sausage shaped, and sometimes breaks during the process. However, when she buries it with clumping litter, she would step over the litter. Depending on how well she did with burying the poop, she will either step on the poop or simply step on the litter on top of the poop. When I clean up her litterbox, the poop look as if it was crushed under the weight of the litter and her paws.
 
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maevin502

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I just want to give an update.

I started giving her pumpkin, and her poop did firm up and became noticeably less smelly, but she now randomly doesn't bury her poop, or kicks poop out of the litter box. The poop that is just outside of her litterbox is covered in clay litter, suggesting she did not poop outside the litterbox, instead somehow kicked it out. She is still stepping on poop, and I see bits of poop on the floor of the house.

It seems her stool is better, but she is now giving me another set of issues. Does anyone know she could be doing this?
 

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I just want to give an update.

I started giving her pumpkin, and her poop did firm up and became noticeably less smelly, but she now randomly doesn't bury her poop, or kicks poop out of the litter box. The poop that is just outside of her litterbox is covered in clay litter, suggesting she did not poop outside the litterbox, instead somehow kicked it out. She is still stepping on poop, and I see bits of poop on the floor of the house.

It seems her stool is better, but she is now giving me another set of issues. Does anyone know she could be doing this?
What are the new set of issues?

Does she have an open or covered box? Do you keep throw rugs or puppy pads outside to maybe get some of the poop off her paws?
 
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maevin502

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Ever since her poop firmed up, she will now do one of the following:
1. Kick her poop out of the litterbox while attempting to bury her poop. The poop outside the litterbox is coated in clumping litter- I strongly believe she pooped inside the litterbox, but kicked it out of the box.
2. Not bury her poop, and scratch the sidewalls of the litterbox.
Whichever way, her hind paws end up stepping on the poop. My original thread issue is still unsolved :(.

She has two litterboxes: one is a traditional pan design, and the other is a hooded design. She has a preference for the traditional pan litterbox. Both litterboxes have mats and they do catch poop, but bits of poop end up tracking in the house, even on her hammock bed.
 

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Ever since her poop firmed up, she will now do one of the following:
1. Kick her poop out of the litterbox while attempting to bury her poop. The poop outside the litterbox is coated in clumping litter- I strongly believe she pooped inside the litterbox, but kicked it out of the box.
2. Not bury her poop, and scratch the sidewalls of the litterbox.
Whichever way, her hind paws end up stepping on the poop. My original thread issue is still unsolved
The kicking poop out of the box might stop after a while, since you have gotten it firmed up. I suspect it was harder for her to bury it when it was soft and she is still treating it as if it were softer, so there more 'burying action' than is needed resulting in it being kicked out of the box.

The not burying her poop and scratching the sidewalls of the litterbox is a trait that some cats 'just have'. It could be connected to the soft poop from before, and over time resolve itself - or it could be what she 'just does'. She also might be less inclined to try to bury it since it is less smelly.

I still recommend trying a larger litterbox.
 

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I still recommend trying a larger litterbox.
I don't mean to hijack the thread, but my kitty has a similar problem, though less frequent. What is the average or normal size of a litter box (for one small cat)? Wondering if I bought an extra small one. (I know some ppl try larger non-litter boxes but I have limited space in my bathroom.)
 

FeebysOwner

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I don't mean to hijack the thread, but my kitty has a similar problem, though less frequent. What is the average or normal size of a litter box (for one small cat)? Wondering if I bought an extra small one. (I know some ppl try larger non-litter boxes but I have limited space in my bathroom.)
Length wise they generally advise at least 1 1/2 times the length of the cat; so if your cat measured 18" (not counting tail), then at least a box 27" in length. I have never seen width recommendations discussed, but I would tend to go close to the length of the cat, so maybe in this example 15"-18".
 

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Hi, I feel your pain!

My cat only has accidents when he has the runs or ate something stringy that allows him to drag the poop with him. 🤦🏻‍♀️ This weekend it was very long grass and he sat in his poo! I won’t even mention the disaster of the cat safe paper Easter grass..... let’s just say all Easter grass has been banned from my house! Once I was sick? His box got dirty & he stepped in his pee! 🤦🏻‍♀️🤮 Clumping litter is very hard to get out of the fur between their toes!

I would suggest more dry food or adding cooked rice (or some unflavored baby rice cereal) to her wet food to see if that firms it up a bit. You might try giving her a very large plastic tub as a litter box to see if that solves your problem. If she keeps having the runs after a month or two of probiotics, you might want to make sure she doesn’t have a food allergy.
 

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maevin502, have you had any progress on finding a solution? I awoke this morning to bits of litter- covered poop all over the bathroom wall and floor, and even some poopy footprints on my kitchen counter (ugh, another thing I'm trying to address).

I know how she's doing it, bc i witnessed it once. She first turns around to take a sniff, than turns back around, placing her back paws dangerously near the deposit. Then she furiously buries, burying her back feet as well. Then she kicks up to dislodge her feet, and up comes fragments of poop with her.
 
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maevin502

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maevin502, have you had any progress on finding a solution? I awoke this morning to bits of litter- covered poop all over the bathroom wall and floor, and even some poopy footprints on my kitchen counter (ugh, another thing I'm trying to address).

I know how she's doing it, bc i witnessed it once. She first turns around to take a sniff, than turns back around, placing her back paws dangerously near the deposit. Then she furiously buries, burying her back feet as well. Then she kicks up to dislodge her feet, and up comes fragments of poop with her.
My cat has gotten better with not stepping on her stool. I ended up doing several things to retrain her:
1. During daily training sessions, I lured her into the litterbox several times using treats, and made sure that she walked around inside the litterbox. I did this in hopes that she becomes familiar with the space in the litterbox and improve her body coordination inside it.
2. When she poops, I occasionally covered her poop for her, so that she doesn't step on her poop. I also tried to stimulate her to cover the poop with more litter. I then reward her with treats.
3. I gradually stopped covering her poop for her. I rewarded her with treats when she did not step on her poop. I had to monitor her every time she used the litterbox. But over a few days, she began to understand the idea.

I was planning on getting a larger litterbox (her current two litterboxes are 20 inches each), but given the results I've seen, I don't think it is necessary to buy another litterbox.

I did take my cat to the vet to rule out any medical issues. Fecal test showed no parasites. I asked him for advise on how to address the issue of my cat stepping on poop, and he told me my cat was stressed, and work on firming up her stool. His opniion was it's a combination of stress from adapting to a new environment and bad habits from the shelter, and my cat needs more time to adjust. It wasn't quite the answer I wanted to hear, but he did offer a plausible explanation for why my cat was stepping on her poop. He told me that shelters generally have limited resources, and that cats at shelters most likely share a small litterbox with other cats. He believes my cat was probably accustomed to using a small and dirty litterbox, and developed a bad habit of stepping on poop there.
 

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My cat has gotten better with not stepping on her stool. I ended up doing several things to retrain her:
1. During daily training sessions, I lured her into the litterbox several times using treats, and made sure that she walked around inside the litterbox. I did this in hopes that she becomes familiar with the space in the litterbox and improve her body coordination inside it.
2. When she poops, I occasionally covered her poop for her, so that she doesn't step on her poop. I also tried to stimulate her to cover the poop with more litter. I then reward her with treats.
3. I gradually stopped covering her poop for her. I rewarded her with treats when she did not step on her poop. I had to monitor her every time she used the litterbox. But over a few days, she began to understand the idea.

I was planning on getting a larger litterbox (her current two litterboxes are 20 inches each), but given the results I've seen, I don't think it is necessary to buy another litterbox.

I did take my cat to the vet to rule out any medical issues. Fecal test showed no parasites. I asked him for advise on how to address the issue of my cat stepping on poop, and he told me my cat was stressed, and work on firming up her stool. His opniion was it's a combination of stress from adapting to a new environment and bad habits from the shelter, and my cat needs more time to adjust. It wasn't quite the answer I wanted to hear, but he did offer a plausible explanation for why my cat was stepping on her poop. He told me that shelters generally have limited resources, and that cats at shelters most likely share a small litterbox with other cats. He believes my cat was probably accustomed to using a small and dirty litterbox, and developed a bad habit of stepping on poop there.
I admire your dedication to this, sounds like you are doing an awesome job working with her. The vet may be correct on that, even if she didn't share a litter box they are usually confined to a small area. Keep up the great job and keep us posted!
 
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