My cat seems to be afraid to poop in a litter box

Ithiel

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Hi everyone!
I've been reading the forum for a long time but never got around to register.
My wife and I have 2 cats, Kai (6 years old) and Nanaki (5 months old) (both were adopted and don't look like any defined breed) and right now we have what seems to be a behavioural problem with Kai

Last year Kai was very constipated, to the point that he complained when going to the litter box and his vet gave him a laxative. The constipation was quickly solved, but Kai never used that litter box again to poop. No biggie, we thought, since we had 2 litter boxes and he was using the other one just fine.
However, last month Kai got constipated again. It got resolved quickly again and this time he didn't seem to have the same problem of avoiding the litter box. However, a couple of weeks after that we adopted Nanaki, and added a third litter box.
Kai is a VERY social cat, and Nanaki had been in a foster home for a month and had his vet checks and supposedly he was deparasited, so the introduction between the two was quicker than it would be with other cats: they were already sleeping together, playing together and grooming each other within 5 days. Thus, Kai started using the 3rd litter box.

Notice that I said that Nanaki was supposedly deparasited. Turns out he had a little respiratory infection and giardia, which apparently isn't affected by usual dewormers. Our vet gave him an antibiotic and two dewormers to tackle both. We weren't able to give him the pills so we mixed them in his wet food (our vet told us it was OK). Well, turns out that these two rascals were exchanging their morning food when we weren't looking; we discovered it because Kai developed diarrhea from the medication (we ruled out other causes with our vet). We put him on a special diet with probiotics and now both cats are perfect physically.

The problem now is that since he had diarrhea, Kai is pooping outside the litter boxes, right in front of them. We even bought a new one but he refuses to poop inside it aswell. We ruled out any physical cause with our vet and it looks like he is afraid of going inside the litter boxes, like he thinks that pooping inside a litter box is the reason he was in pain.
We tried to take off the top part of the new litter box, thinking that maybe if he sees it different from the others he might not associate it with his constipation and later diarrhea, but that wasn't enough and he's still pooping right in front of the litter box.

We don't know what else to try. He doesn't have any trouble going to the litter boxes to pee, so we have hope that he can still be "convinced" somehow that he's not going to be in pain for using them.
Have any of you dealt with something like this? What worked for you?

Thanks so much :)
 

Maria Bayote

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One of my cats do not like to use a litterbox that has already poop or pee on it by the other house cats, so I usually scoop immediately after a cat does his/her thing even though they have multiple litter boxes. So it may also be a reason for your cat.

I was about to suggest to try an open litterbox but as you said you also already tried to take off the cover and still did not work.

Can you try cleaning/washing the boxes entirely with soap and replace with new littersand?

Some cats also do not like the scented ones.

Also, try converting a large food tray into a litterbox - as some cats do not want to make an effort to hop onto a normal cat litterbox. I did that before for one of my rescued feral cat until such time she learned how to use a real litterbox.

Others here may also have better suggestions.
 

sunny578

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Yes, my cat had this problem:(

So, he poops in the same spot, in front of the box, each time?

What I would do is gradually get him re-used to pooping on litter

I would start by getting a small rug or pee pad or something that you can put under the litter box. Make it big enough so that when he poops in front of the litter box, he poops on the pee pad/rug. You want this rug/pee pad to be really flat though--not something that his claws gets caught on or something that bunches up as he walks. A rubber door mat could work as well.

Then, once he poops on the rug, I would add a sprinkling of litter on the rug. You could even try a different kind of litter than what he's used to.

Hopefully he poops on that too.

I would gradually increase the amount of litter you put on this rug. If, after a week or so, he is pooping on the litter that is on the rug, then great! This is good progress.

Your next step will be to get some very low profile thing, like a baking sheet but not that slippery, and put it in front of the litter box. Place the pee pad or rug in the box if it will fit, and then the sprinkling of litter on top.

Let your cat develop a good habit of pooping in this modified box situation before, again slowly, transitioning to a regular litter box.

Good luck!!
 

maggie101

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Leave the top of the box off so you can better notice if there is a medical issue. Is he eating ok?
 
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Ithiel

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Leave the top of the box off so you can better notice if there is a medical issue. Is he eating ok?
Yes, he's perfectly fine. He eats, plays, his poops are perfect and he's not in pain to get to the litter box (he goes fine to pee and plays everyday jumping and running with the other cat, so we know it's not a pain issue). Our vet has ruled out any medical issue.

Yes, my cat had this problem:(

So, he poops in the same spot, in front of the box, each time?

What I would do is gradually get him re-used to pooping on litter

I would start by getting a small rug or pee pad or something that you can put under the litter box. Make it big enough so that when he poops in front of the litter box, he poops on the pee pad/rug. You want this rug/pee pad to be really flat though--not something that his claws gets caught on or something that bunches up as he walks. A rubber door mat could work as well.

Then, once he poops on the rug, I would add a sprinkling of litter on the rug. You could even try a different kind of litter than what he's used to.

Hopefully he poops on that too.

I would gradually increase the amount of litter you put on this rug. If, after a week or so, he is pooping on the litter that is on the rug, then great! This is good progress.

Your next step will be to get some very low profile thing, like a baking sheet but not that slippery, and put it in front of the litter box. Place the pee pad or rug in the box if it will fit, and then the sprinkling of litter on top.

Let your cat develop a good habit of pooping in this modified box situation before, again slowly, transitioning to a regular litter box.

Good luck!!
Yes, he poops in the exact same spot everytime, just in front of the litter box.
That is a very thoughtful solution! He doesn't seem to have any problem with the litter itself, so it's a great idea to make him see that he's pooping in a "section" of the litter box and nothing painful happened. Thank you so much!!!
We're gonna try that. Will update with how it's working :)
 
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