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Why Is My Cat Pooping Outside The Litter Box?

A cat behavior consultant shares four reasons why cat poop outside the box and how to stop it.

"It wasn't me." Via minoandriani/reddit


We have had Sheila, our female cat, for four years. She is wonderful, loving and a pain in the butt! Sheila is 5 years old, declawed front and back and lives entirely indoors. She travels to Florida with us by air and is a perfect cat, but she will not poop in her litter box. She will pee and then go to the front door or back door and go on the floor. We have moved the litter box to the area where she will go on the floor and she will still go on the floor. We are at a loss on what to do.


Before approaching this as a cat behavior problem, take your cat, along with a fresh feces sample, to your cat’s veterinarian for a thorough checkup. Often medical issues will cause cats to defecate outside the litter box. Most likely, there are a combination of triggers for your cat’s behavior.

    1. Your cat might be middening — marking territory. Based on the areas she is targeting, neighborhood cats or other animals might cause her to defecate outside the litter box.Start by keeping the outsiders away from your home. Use deterrents that won’t harm the animals but will make the exterior of your home an unpleasant place for them to hang out. Deterrents include ultrasonic devices, motion-sensitive water sprayers and repellents such as lemon and Bitter Apple. Cover the windows where your cat can see the neighborhood animals; fabric and paper work well. After the outsiders no longer hang out around your house, gradually remove the coverings.
    2. Your cat might also have problems with your cat’s litter box and its location. The litter box might not be clean enough or it may be too small for her. Additionally, it may be located in an area where she could feel trapped. Ideally, you should have two litter boxes available. They should be large, uncovered and scooped minimally once a day. Place the litter boxes in locations where your cat has a great view of the room and can easily identify any potential threat and escape.
    3. Stress from traveling may be a factor as well. Cats need consistency — most do not adjust easily to change. Make your cat’s travel as stress-free as possible. Place an item of clothing that has your scent on it in the carrier with Sheila. If Sheila has a favorite toy, put that in the carrier as well. Covering a carrier with a towel will help your cat feel safe and protected. Once you arrive at your destination, put the carrier and cat in a room equipped with a comfortable place to sleep, cat food, water and a litter box. This will be her sanctuary room. Open the carrier door and let her explore the room on her own schedule. After she is comfortable in her room, open the door to the rest of the house for her.

Another contributing factor is your that cat’s declawed. Because your cat’s natural defenses have been removed through declawing, she feels vulnerable, causing her to easily stress and react by defecating outside the litter box.

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Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Cats


  • Hi: I am trying to figure out why my cat poops on the floor near her litter box just at night while we are sleeping? Do you have any ideas why ?

    Helena MacLeod October 16, 2016 6:05 am Reply
  • My 7 year old male cat will poop right outside both litter boxes. He did really good for about 3 or 4 weeks after we moved & pooped in the box, now he’s back to his old ways. Why? I can’t take it & my fiancé is going crazy over it. What can I do? He does weigh 25 lbs btw.

    Julie November 11, 2016 2:30 am Reply
  • My 6yr old female cat Mystik usually poops in litter box but then again she started pooping next to toilet or in front of my bedroom door. She will pee in litter box.

    Shelly November 16, 2016 10:34 pm Reply
  • I have a cat that since he learned to use litterbox has always pooped outside the box! He is now almost 4 years old! He pees in litterbox but not poop. He is one of 5 cats but all the rest of them don’t do that. We keep litterbox clean. We have a couple we put around house. Please help!

    Kerry Fuller December 24, 2016 9:41 am Reply

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