Pooping on the bed after years of using the box

MrArcher13

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I have two cats. One is 15 and we think she is losing control of her faculties. About a year or two ago, she started pooping outside the box. Any time before this, it was a statement of something - i.e. she didn't like the new brand of food, new brand of litter, etc. She started pooping under my parent's bed a few years ago and we never could figure out why so we started placing puppy pads. The behavior has continued and now she poops on the bed or wherever she's sleeping - hence why we think she's losing control.

However, the problem is now our other cat who is going on 9. She has been very good about using the litter box, save for a few times she doesn't squat and pees over the edge. Lately something's changed and we aren't sure what, but she's started pooping on my parent's bed. This was about a month ago, so they started closing their door to their bedroom. She then came into my room and started pooping on my bed. Usually it was just one little turd. I caught her about to do it one day and told her no. She hissed at me, then ran to my parent's door and I thought she wanted to look out the window (she has a preferred spot on a chair that looks at a bird feeder) but instead she ran to the bed and dumped a full load on the puppy pad. Now I notice whenever she has to do her business, she'll run to my bed and start meowing like crazy until I notice her, then she squats and tries to poop.If I try to stop her, she hisses at me. I've started closing my door so she eventually either poops in the box or goes on the couch/floor.

The things we noticed were major changes lately were; 1) my schedule. She was very used to me being home a lot and spending time with me. I've been getting more hours at work and haven't been coming home at night as much - I go to see my girlfriend. 2) There's a stray cat hanging around the neighborhood. A male long hair, beautiful smokey grey, that we've named Fantome (after the Phantom of the Opera). As of late, he's been sleeping on our porch, though we aren't putting food or anything out for him. There's a door that looks out onto the porch and our cat often looks out that window, so we thought she was getting territorial with him, so we blocked the door.

As a side note, my family are notorious horders and the house is a mess (all of it is stuff with actual value, vintage clothes, dolls, teddy bears - my mother and I are antique dealers) So when we say we blocked the door, there was a narrow walkway to get to it and we stacked some boxes so she couldn't get to the door. We've tried putting their poops in the litter box to indicate to them where to poop, but it didn't work. We gave up on rubbing their noses in it cuz that only scares them.

Beyond that, we have no idea why she's suddenly started having this need to poop on the beds or under the couch or wherever. We've thought about changing the litter boxes, thinking something fell on one and scared them both out of it, but we have both open and closed boxes and they will pee in them but pooping is a no go for some reason.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Although I have personally never heard of it, I suppose it is possible the younger cat has learned the behavior from the older cat. Something is upsetting them, and your schedule changes could have been the final straw, particularly for the younger cat since she more recently started this behavior. A messy household is probably not helping matters either, nor is the outdoor cat. You might want to consider using something like chicken wire to cover the porch area, many cats do not like to walk on it - so, it could help to deter this cat from hanging outside so close to the house. Do you know if this cat belongs to anyone? You might want to see if you can find out, as he could have been abandoned or is lost - which would mean contacting some rescue centers for help in trapping him so that he can be checked for a micro-chip, looked over, and possibly placed up for adoption.

But, pooping outside a litter box and yet using it to pee doesn't really point to a cat losing their faculties. I would get two more boxes and place puppy pee pads in them - close enough to the other boxes so the cats might just use the regular box to pee in and then move on to the pad-lined box to poop. Cleaning out the litter boxes fairly quickly after they are used each time might help as well.

Make sure that all the places these cats have pooped are thoroughly cleaned with enzymatic cleaners so as to remove any smell and at least not 'invite' them to go in those places again. Once the smell is anywhere like that, if it is not removed, it only encourages a cat to go there again and again. And, punishing a cat for this behavior, or any other undesirable behavior, as you have already found out, NEVER works, and can actually backfire.

Do they eat, drink, play well? Is their poop 'normal' (consistency, smell, color)? Are there any other signs of potential health issues brewing? Do they seemed stressed in any manner? How long has it been since they have seen the vet for a thorough check up? The 15 yo definitely should have a geriatric check up - ideally - twice a year. That includes a full blood work up (CBC, Chemistry Profile, thyroid), and at least a urinalysis. In your case, it might hurt to have a full fecal PCR test run as well, just in case there is something going on from that aspect that could be attributing to the inappropriate pooping. Your 9 yo is hitting senior hood and should also have a similar exam. Even if everything checks out OK this time, the results can be used to compare to future exams, enabling potential health issues to be identified - and, treated - much quicker.

Lastly, there have been cases where an older cat will poop outside a litter box because of arthritis - the way they position themselves to poop - which is generally different than how they position themselves to pee - could hurt and cause them to avoid going in the box. Or, the litter may feel uncomfortable to their bums because of positioning, so they poop on soft stuff.
 
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MrArcher13

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I will try to answer all these questions, so bare with me. lol
1) The outdoor cat. As far as we know, he was either a drop off or just a feral cat to begin with. He kinda just showed up in town about a year ago and hangs out in various places. We haven't seen him in a few weeks and the younger cat has not pooped on the beds since the last time he was around. I also tried blocking the window viewing the area he was in and that seemed to help too.
2) The litter boxes. We have 4 throughout the house, one in the basement, 2 on the first level, and 1 on the second floor. As stated, they used to poop in these quite regularly, but then just stopped. The younger one seems to be going back to using the boxes, but we'll see if that changes. The other night the older one was about to go (she acts really unusual before she poops) so we put her in the bathroom with the litter box and instead, she just pooped on top of it where she was sitting and then freaked out and tried to get out of the bathroom.
3) We try to spray each spot they poop with an odor eliminator. I'm not sure off hand if it's an enzymatic cleaner - I'll look into that.
4) They've always eaten side by side, or at least taken turns eating/drinking. The older one spends most of her day in her cat bed. The younger one we play with on a fairly consistent basis. They don't really like going face to face with each other though. The younger one has tried playing with the older one which has resulted in the older one hissing and swatting at her. If they do come into contact accidentally, usually one or the other will hiss and swat. Not always, just if it's really sudden like "Whoa, hey, get out of my personal space!" The poops, when they happen, are pretty normal from what I can tell. Not runny, not dry, they stink but most poops do.
5) I do not recall exactly the last time they were at the vet. The younger one was taken in a while ago for a bad tooth, but we didn't have the money at the time for an extraction, so they gave us soft food for her that would help her as well. We've not really ever had a lot of money, so anything we can do for the cats at home has always been our go to.
Thank you for your input and suggestions. I will update if/when I can after we've tried some of this.
 
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MrArcher13

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Well, it's been two years so I'd thought I'd update for anyone that comes along and reads this. Sadly, the older cat, the 15 (now 17)yo passed away. She went peacefully in her bed after we noticed a rapid weight loss and she wasn't eating or drinking (She went before we could take her in to the vet). We never did solve her pooping outside the box issue. The younger one, however, the 9 (now 11)yo, is still mostly doing it as a statement. We've discovered she typically pees or poops on the beds when my girlfriend is over. Don't get me wrong, she loves my girlfriend. She'll rub up on her leg, ask for pets and chin scratches, but as soon as she's gone, the cat goes and pees or poops on the bed. We think it's a territorial thing. The stray cat hasn't been around in a while and so that isn't really affecting anything anymore. We did adopt a new kitty in December of 2020 and now another one this spring, so with two younger kitties around the house, the older cat is kept pretty busy. The youngest male will chase her and play with her but she wants none of it. I've only caught her a handful of times trying to poop on the bed, in which case she will hiss and growl at me, but will ultimately go in her box. I think she's starting to get over herself, even if she doesn't want to. Otherwise this issue has almost completely been resolved on its own. Thanks for reading, stranger. Enjoy the rest of your day.
 
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