My cat keeps pooping outside of his litter box but urinating in it

mrpepper

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About 2 weeks ago on November 10th I noticed two little pieces of cat poop on a blanket which was resting on my leather couch. Figured one of my 2 cats had a little accident and it probably was a one-time thing - I was wrong. Last week starting on Thursday November 17th my cat Pepper pooped on the same blanket on the same couch but this time it was like 5-6 pieces. I decided to wash the blanket and move it to the other side of the couch but the next day he did it again on the blanket and also covered it. After that I decided to throw away the blanket completely but the next day I found 6 pieces of poop on a pillow which happened to also be on the couch.

At that point I decided to take him to the vet yesterday and they did x rays on him to find he was in fact constipated. They administered an enema on him which made his backside very wet and he pooped in his carrier on the way home - he also pooped on the way to the vet out of fear I assume - which allowed them to take a fecal sample. They also gave me some Lactulose to give him every 8 hours which I gave him the first dose today. Unfortunately last night he threw up a few times and also defecated on the couch again - this time on a bath towel which I covered the couch with to protect it.

I've gotten multiple opinions from various veterinarians today and most said to wait a week and see if its the constipation that was the problem but others say I need to get more litter boxes. He has shared one litter box all his life (hes 8 years old) and when we added another when he was young both cats continued to just use the one. I'm having trouble understanding if this is a behavior problem or just simply hes constipated and once his bowel movements go back to normal he will remember where hes supposed to poop. What confuses me most is that he will use the litter box to urinate but has decided the blankets and pillows on the couch are where he will poop from now on.

At this point I don't know what to do other than hope given time and the Lactulose he will get better but I'm getting convinced that its behavioral. Thus far I haven't tried removing all soft things from the couch all together and see where he chooses to go next. I'm scared that he will choose the next best place which would be my bed or the floor.

Backstory:
My mother divorced my father 3 years ago and left him on his own - unfortunately he passed away a year ago and I was the only family member here that could care for the cats while he was in hospice. They grew attached to me over a 2 month period and my fathers dying wishes to me was to take care of the cats - the only thing left that he really cared about in this world. 8 months have passed and they have been the best thing that's happened to me until now.

Please help, I dont want to have to give them up or euthanize but if he won't stop this behavior I don't know what my other options are. Has anyone ever dealt with something like this before? Is it truly his constipation or is it something he just decided he wants to do? Its hard for me to add anymore litter boxes because my apartment is so small (700 sq feet). I figured after he got the enema he would poop in his litter box again but so far he has not. I will continue to give him Lactulose and hope for the best but if it doesn't change soon I will be forced to make a tough decision.
 

Furballsmom

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Hello, and welcome!
Has anyone ever dealt with something like this before
Yes, lots of members have, unfortunately.

He is absolutely not doing this because he just decided to do so. He is struggling to find a comfortable place/means of pooping. It's stressful and possibly painful enough for him that he's seeing the litterbox as a source of the problem, at least currently.

The enema hopefully cleaned him out fairly effectively, plus he's thrown up whatever else he ate so you probably won't see a poop for a day or so, IF he stops throwing up and starts eating right away, and his digestive system begins it's work.

One of your biggest issues now is watching for any more vomiting. If he continues he'll need to see a vet.

Regarding hoping and tough decisions, you also, when he starts eating again, need to get more moisture into him. He needs canned food, and please look through this article;

Tips To Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake – TheCatSite Articles
 
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mrpepper

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Hello, and welcome!

Yes, lots of members have, unfortunately.

He is absolutely not doing this because he just decided to do so. He is struggling to find a comfortable place/means of pooping. It's stressful and possibly painful enough for him that he's seeing the litterbox as a source of the problem, at least currently.

The enema hopefully cleaned him out fairly effectively, plus he's thrown up whatever else he ate so you probably won't see a poop for a day or so, IF he stops throwing up and starts eating right away.

One of your biggest issues now is watching for any more vomiting. If he continues he'll need to see a vet.

Regarding hoping and tough decisions, you also, when he starts eating again, need to get more moisture into him. Canned food, and please look through this article;

Tips To Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake – TheCatSite Articles
He is still eating his dry food that I gave him this morning and hasn't thrown up since 4 am this morning.

I agree he sees the litterbox as the source of the problem but I worry he will continue to do so unless I do something about it even if his constipation goes away.

Do you think he will start pooping in his box after the lactulose has run its course or is this going to be something that he does even after he gets better? I was hoping for him to poop in his box last night but he did it on the couch again. He seems to really like that spot and has only went there but again that could be because of the blankets and pillows not necessarily the couch?
 

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hasn't thrown up since 4 am this morning.
Whew, that's really good to hear!

Is his poop normal? You need to get more moisture into him. Instead of kibble, start feeding canned food and read through that article I posted above regarding water. The lactulose, or miralax which some vets believe is a better choice since it doesn't draw moisture from the body like lactulose does, isn't a cure in itself although it can be used over a long period of time.

You may need to help him re-learn that the litterbox is ok. I would contain him in a room with one or two litterboxes until it appears he's using the box regularly, and also be sure to clean the items and the couch where he's been pooping with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle.
 
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mrpepper

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Whew, that's really good to hear!

Is his poop normal? You need to get more moisture into him. Instead of kibble, start feeding canned food and read through that article I posted above regarding water. The lactulose, or miralax which some vets believe is a better choice since it doesn't draw moisture from the body like lactulose does, isn't a cure in itself although it can be used over a long period of time.

You may need to help him re-learn that the litterbox is ok. I would contain him in a room with one or two litterboxes until it appears he's using the box regularly, and also be sure to clean the items and the couch where he's been pooping with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle.
His poop was more moist than usual so I figure that is a good sign but I really need him to re learn how to poop in his box.

I could lock him in the room with the litter box but I fear he will get very upset with me in the process as I've never locked him in anything but his cage which made him scream like a banshee.

I think hes already upset with me giving him the lactulose and taking him to the vet yesterday for the enema. Hes hiding under the bed all day and only came out to eat his wet food which he only consumed the gravy part of it basically.
 

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The Litter Box From Your Cat’s Point of View

I had a cat that took to pooping outside of the box, and it turns out he had some intestinal discomfort, just like your cat. This article really helped me make the litter box a more inviting place for him.
Is there a way to keep him shut out of the room the couch is in for now? He might have felt relief (from being constipated) when he was finally able to pass stool on that blanket on the couch, and now feels like that's the most pain-free place to go. If he's been having discomfort, the litter box might feel like the source of that and he avoids it for pooping. If you can get him back to using the box reliably by using some of the ideas in the article linked above, you can slowly re-introduce him to the couch and keep an eye on him.
For my cat, I had to realize this was a medical problem, not behavioral, so treating his problems and making the box an inviting place was what I focused on.
In the article I linked, one of the Do Not's was do not use pelleted litter. But my cat hated any kind of sandy-feeling litter on his feet, and preferred Yesterdays News pelleted litter. So these are just suggestions. :)
 
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mrpepper

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The Litter Box From Your Cat’s Point of View

I had a cat that took to pooping outside of the box, and it turns out he had some intestinal discomfort, just like your cat. This article really helped me make the litter box a more inviting place for him.
Is there a way to keep him shut out of the room the couch is in for now? He might have felt relief (from being constipated) when he was finally able to pass stool on that blanket on the couch, and now feels like that's the most pain-free place to go. If he's been having discomfort, the litter box might feel like the source of that and he avoids it for pooping. If you can get him back to using the box reliably by using some of the ideas in the article linked above, you can slowly re-introduce him to the couch and keep an eye on him.
For my cat, I had to realize this was a medical problem, not behavioral, so treating his problems and making the box an inviting place was what I focused on.
In the article I linked, one of the Do Not's was do not use pelleted litter. But my cat hated any kind of sandy-feeling litter on his feet, and preferred Yesterdays News pelleted litter. So these are just suggestions. :)
I won't be able to keep him out of the living room as its a small apartment and the couch is right in the middle of it. The only thing I could do is lock him in a room with the litter box but for some reason that bothers me as I feel he won't like it.

May I ask how long it took for your cat to start using his box to poop again?
 

Furballsmom

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I really need him to re learn how to poop in his box.
We understand that. However, this obviously, as mentioned in the post above from his perspective, isn't going to happen overnight and your expectations are a little higher than he can work with at this point in time. In other words, please be patient with him.

A bathroom isn't a cage so he may be less upset.
I fear he will get very upset with me
You'll need to find what works. Maybe the suggestions from Ipappy will give you ideas. The entire thought process behind the suggestions and advice we're giving you is to provide you a means to avoid having to rehome him or worse.
 
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mrpepper

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We understand that. However, this obviously, as mentioned in the post above from his perspective, isn't going to happen overnight and your expectations are a little higher than he can work with at this point in time. In other words, please be patient with him.

A bathroom isn't a cage so he may be less upset.

You'll need to find what works. Maybe the suggestions from Ipappy will give you ideas. The entire thought process behind the suggestions and advice we're giving you is to provide you a means to avoid having to rehome him or worse.
I'm gonna try everything suggested and then some until I find something that works but it is a little overwhelming how many different things it can be after reading the links.

This whole thing is making me lose sleep and I'm not eating much at all. I know thats on me to fix but it honestly is affecting my health and ability to function daily. Don't usually get anxiety attacks but I got one today.

Part of me knows how upset I would be to have to re-home him but the other part of me knows how dangerous it is to worry as much as I do about if and when he will go back to the way he was.
 

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Hang in there!! That's why we're here, to help and to support. You're on the right track, I promise❣
 

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Sorry for the double post here.
The only thing I could do is lock him in a room with the litter box but for some reason that bothers me as I feel he won't like it.
Try this, he may more willing to accept it than you think.

How are you giving him the lactulose? If it's like miralax it should be dissolved and then you can give it to him in food. Talk to your vet about PEG 3350. It doesn't draw moisture from the rest of the body like the lactulose does.

Don't usually get anxiety attacks but I got one today.
Hang in there with this. He needs you 🤞🙏
 

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I noticed you said you feed the cat dry food. Have you ever tried feeding wet food to increase water in his bowel? If the cat refuses to eat wet food, make sure you replace his water bowel at least twice a day. The constipation may be due to a lack of water.
 

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I won't be able to keep him out of the living room as its a small apartment and the couch is right in the middle of it. The only thing I could do is lock him in a room with the litter box but for some reason that bothers me as I feel he won't like it.

May I ask how long it took for your cat to start using his box to poop again?
He hit the box about 75% of the time once he felt better. He'd go right beside it sometimes, so I kept a disposable pee pad there and he'd go on that. It was a good solution for us. :)
 
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mrpepper

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How are you giving him the lactulose? If it's like miralax it should be dissolved and then you can give it to him in food. Talk to your vet about PEG 3350. It doesn't draw moisture from the rest of the body like the lactulose does.
The vet told me to use an oral syringe and give him 5 ml every 8 hours. I tried to call the vet on Wednesday to ask some more questions but they said she is out of the office and won't be back until Tuesday next week.
 
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mrpepper

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I noticed you said you feed the cat dry food. Have you ever tried feeding wet food to increase water in his bowel? If the cat refuses to eat wet food, make sure you replace his water bowel at least twice a day. The constipation may be due to a lack of water.
I feed him wet food every night around 7 pm and I scoop a cup of dry food into his bowl every morning. He gets plenty of water but he seems to really likes the dry food most which may have caused his constipation in the first place. Was thinking about replacing his dry food this morning with wet food.
 
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mrpepper

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He hit the box about 75% of the time once he felt better. He'd go right beside it sometimes, so I kept a disposable pee pad there and he'd go on that. It was a good solution for us. :)
I've read a lot about kitties who go right outside their box, honestly if that was all he was doing I wouldn't be as upset. The couch is about as far away from the box as possible so I wonder if Pepper has an attachment to it rather than not making it to the box in time.

He hasn't went #2 since Wednesday morning but he just urinated in his box as I was typing this. I'm gonna keep a close eye on him and see what he does now that I've covered the couch with saran wrap.
 

iPappy

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I've read a lot about kitties who go right outside their box, honestly if that was all he was doing I wouldn't be as upset. The couch is about as far away from the box as possible so I wonder if Pepper has an attachment to it rather than not making it to the box in time.

He hasn't went #2 since Wednesday morning but he just urinated in his box as I was typing this. I'm gonna keep a close eye on him and see what he does now that I've covered the couch with saran wrap.
Good plan in the saran wrap! I still get the feeling he was feeling discomfort from being constipated and was finally able to pass it on the couch and that's what kept him going back. Breaking that habit while making sure he gets food and medicine that keeps him feeling good might be all there is to it. :)
 

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Breaking that habit while making sure he gets food and medicine that keeps him feeling good might be all there is to it.
That's my hope as well! Sending tons of good vibes for this :vibes: :crossfingers:

I don't know how this quantity (fraction of a teaspoon) correlates to the amount of lactulose that you're giving, but this is typically what's prescribed of miralax/PEG 3350. When you do have a chance to talk to your vet, if they won't allow the change to PEG 3350 at least hopefully they'll let you to give it in food so you don't have the extra stress for the both of you the way they're making you give it to him now.

For cats, the recommended dose is generally ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of dissolved powder mixed in with food twice daily.
 
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iPappy

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That's my hope as well! Sending tons of good vibes for this :vibes: :crossfingers:

I don't know how this quantity (fraction of a teaspoon) correlates to the amount of lactulose that you're giving, but this is typically what's prescribed of miralax/PEG 3350. When you do have a chance to talk to your vet, if they won't allow the change to PEG 3350 at least hopefully they'll let you to give it in food so you don't have the extra stress for the both of you the way they're making you give it to him now.

For cats, the recommended dose is generally ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of powder mixed in with food twice daily.
I and my Mom have both had cats on miralax, and several boarders have been on a small maintenance doses. Not one cat has turned their nose up at a bit of it in their food, which is huge for me.
Another thought popped in my head earlier, mrpepper mrpepper ,is Pepper very active? Do you know how old he is? The more moving around he does, the better the problem should get. If he doesn't move a lot, do you think something like a laser light would catch his interest and encourage him to move around more?
 
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mrpepper

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is Pepper very active? Do you know how old he is?
Hes an indoor cat so he isnt as active as he could be and I work 12-13 hour days on occasion but he has his brother to play with when I'm gone. He is 8 years old and the vet said hes a bit overweight.
 
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