Jackson Galaxy on Cat Poop

Do you like the show My Cat From Hell ? We do and we love it and learn something new each episode.

The star of My Cat From Hell, Jackson Galaxy, has agreed to talk with us about some of the questions Happy Litterbox readers have sent in.

We’ve received a lot of questions about cat poop. Who knew there were so many variations of cat pooping behavior? We’ve tried to address everyone’s question with one that hits on a lot of issues.

Here’s the reader question:

My cat Sydney refuses to use the litter box for #2. He has no problem urinating in one, just will not use it for #2. And fortunately (or unfortunately) he has decided the rug by the back door is the place to go. I have tried changing litter, changing litter box placement, etc., to no avail. I have a feeling this is why, at nine years old, he was relinquished by his previous owners. He is a lovely cat and I think he is fantastic except for this one habit of his. Any ideas? I have had to replace the rug three times already!

So, Jackson and I talked about this. He says if your cat won’t poop in the box, you need to start thinking about what information their body is sending them. Are they constipated? Do they have diarrhea? Maybe they have other G/I issues. Make sure to have your cat checked out by a vet to ensure there is no medical reason for the “inappropriate” pooping. Remember, if it hurts them to poop and they associate the pain with the litter box then they will keep looking for a place where they can poop where it doesn’t hurt.

Also, check out the poop consistency – is it hard? Soft? That will also be a clue to what’s going on with your cat physically.

Consider Sydney’s age. Nine years old is a normal age to have arthritis. Pooping requires a bit of a different stance in the litter box than peeing does. So perhaps Sydney is uncomfortable when he is in poop position.

Another thing you can look at is the level of the litter. Again, cats get in different positions for peeing and pooping. When Sydney poops, he may be sinking down a bit in the litter. This may cause him to grab with his feet and, well, if he has arthritis, that could hurt!

You might also change the placement of the mat at the back door. If Sydney still seeks out that mat, then he prefers that surface to his litter box.

But, if he goes on the floor by the back door, then there might be something about the back door that says to him, “Sydney, go poop here.”

Some advice Jackson gives to everyone dealing with litter box issues: you need to approach the problem with a long-term perspective. Don’t get mad – there is nothing you can do at that moment to change your cat’s behavior. The best thing to do is take notes. Pay attention to the circumstances surrounding the behavior and literally write it down. You will definitely start seeing patterns.

At the moment, just clean up the mess and move on. Then prepare yourself for the process of getting to the bottom of your cat’s problem – and then adjusting circumstances to help him get over it!

 

15 Comments

  1. Hey Caroline! We were having a similar problem with Kitty, he would pee in the box, but would go #2 on our dirty laundry on the floor of our bedroom (which, admittedly should not have been in the floor but that’s another story). Kitty had also had a mysterious paw injury a few weeks before that, so over time we realized the cold tile floor under the litter boxes was the problem. We got our furbabies their very own space heater for the litter area, and haven’t had any poop problems since!

  2. Was Sydney an Outside or inside/outside cat before you adopted him? Pooping is a much more “vulnerable” activity than peeing: In the wild, poop gives away your location, wild game available in the area, etc. Cats and dogs both try to “hide” their poop for that very reason. Your back door “smells” the most like “outside” of anywhere in the house (think of the very reason you have a rug back there: To keep *outside* from getting tracked *inside*). Sydney may be trying to get to the most expansive space to hide his poop, especially if the box isn’t being cleaned after every single use. Have you moved the litterbox to the back hall? Also, consider letting him outdoors, under supervision, a few times a day.

  3. Another couple things to consider:

    1. Some cats will use one box for #1 and prefer a separate box/place for #2. Is it possible to add a second box for him and see if that works?

    2. I have an elderly cat with a bad hip. She has NEVER used the box for #2, but up until about a year ago, would always go #1 in the box. (I think she can’t climb into the boxes any more.) I now use newspapers on the floor near the litter boxes in our downstairs bathroom (we direct guests upstairs to use the bathroom.) She limits her messes to this room ,which is easy to clean up, both because it is tile and because of the papers. If you can’t resolve this for now, could you put down newspapers or “piddle pads” to protect your floor while you figure this out?

    Good luck!

  4. My cat Buddy hasn’t used the litter box for a while; it’s something structural/physiological. He can’t get into the correct position and he can’t feel when he has to go. SInce he wasn’t in pain, I didn’t go further than the x-ray stage. He can’t really jump up on things any more but is in absolutely no pain. He loves to snuggle up with me in his room and wants out all the time. I am in pain however as he is living in my sunroom, it’s hard to stay on top of the smells every minute and it looks horrible covered with puppy pads. I adore him but can’t see going on like this for years. He’s only 13. Any advice from other cat lovers?

  5. I recently adopted a man coon cat. He is 3 years old. However at least 5 days a week he goes #2 on the carpet. I have tried everything, changed his litter 4 times already. Got a bigger box. My vet said nothing was wrong with him, meaning no health issues. I’m going to give him another couple of weeks. And if it doesn’t stop he, going back to the Humane Society. He is a very sweet cat and is declawed on all 4. He also refuses to cover up anything in his box. And yes, it is cleaned out twice a day. Help.

  6. HELP! I have a male orange tabby kitten (6 months) that i adopted – since the beginning he will pee in his box but not poop in it. Sporadically he will but 8 times out of 10 he poops next to the box. Ive had him tested for worms – came up positive, put him on meds and no more worms but he would still poop out of the box. I ended up adopting another cat (8 month old torty) to keep him company and to hopefully teach him to poop in the box. It actually worked for about a week and then he stopped again and continues to poop in the bathroom next to the box. I get continued assistance from the adoption agency (animal aide) and they are trying to help. Ive switched litter and even used cat attract and that didnt work. Right now im using Pine litter which is what he was first trained on. We are putting him on Albon now because he has loose stools but i dont think that is the problem because even when his stool is normal, he wont poop in the box. He is not declawed – i have 2 open large boxes with pine litter now and nothing – im not going to give him away becasue i love him but i’d like to not have to clean poop off the floor several times a day. I was told by animal aide that he had cocidia when he was baby – could that have somthing to do with it? I need help…. thank you! mom of Riley (the pooper) and Sophie

  7. I have a beautiful 6 year male ragdoll he has been neutered. for some reason he started not pooping in his litter box but in the bathtub, our bed. I have done everything to help him I know. I have given him wet food, dry food, special dietarty food. I changed his litter box, his type of litter. he does pee in his box but all of a sudden he will notot poop in it it. I have given him digestive treats as a little difference in his life. I have done everything I know to help him and I am crying myself to sleep every night. I love him with all my heart and would never do anything donything to hurt him/ I need help so bad

  8. So our cat sneaks started pooping outside the litter box about 2 months ago. she will pee in the litter box but poop right outside of it. We have 3 cats and 4 litter boxes. she has been with us since she was born. never had problem till now. Took her to vet and seems in perfect condition. All blood work came back fine. shes 14 years old. right now we have her with 2 litter boxes locked in the bathroom for 2 weeks but my husband brings her out at in the evenings so she can be around us but back in later. any ideas.

  9. I have a friend that has been having problems withe her two now 10 year old cats. Sadie has been pooping outside the litter box the longest but Sam is now doing it and most recently been peeing outside the box. She has changed sizes of boxes as well as litter type that has not helped. Most recently she took them to the vet. Sam has early kidney failure and so she has them both on new food for that and Sadie has a thyroid problem that she is on medication for. It has been about a month since this diagnoses but they are still having litter issues. Would love for any advise on how to correct this behavior would be awesome!!

  10. I have a 3 year old cat that is a small cat. When I got her she had always had problems using the litter box when going #2. She was born with a bad back leg and a weird shaped tail. She is still a pretty fast cat. I also had a cat that had diabetes who had problems using the litter box before he passed away. I am not sure if my cat was born with this problem or if she looked up to my cat that had passed away and has been copying that behavior from him. She is an OCD cat too. She grooms herself constantly. She doesn’t act sick or in pain. Could her not being spayed be a cause for this?

  11. Dear Caroline
    I have a Maine coon cat and he is 4 in july
    I have tried everything i know to get him to poop daily
    He goes for over 4 days without pooping
    I have been to several vets but to no avail
    Leo became a member of my family when he was 8 months old
    It is just me and him
    He pooped normally
    The litter box is cleanned out twice a day
    It is wood chips and I change the litter every week
    I feed him raw kangaroo and liver and hearts and he use to poop everyday
    I was told by the vet to feed him dry food
    I have stopped doing this for 3 weeks now thinking it would help but it hasnt.
    I also find it difficult to play with him
    He will only play with a long old shoe lace
    He has a healthy appitite and eats all his food but is not greedy
    I do notice that he has a habit of eating then going back and finishing his food
    I feed him 50 grams of food
    I have also recently added pumpkin and cooked chicken as I was told pumpkin would help him poop
    He is very affectionate and a kind natured cat, loves new people and is very happy little boy
    He is 4,5 kilos
    please help
    oh and i did have a natural therapist come to visit him and it didnt help either
    He does have a little redness around his bottom but he doesnt lick it

  12. My cat Molly has been pooping on floor next to litter box, we notice when we are gone for long periods of time she starts to poop out of the box. Usually she has no problem going in her box. The past couple weeks every weekend we have not been home much. What do you recommend we try? Molly is a 2 year old Maine Coon.
    Thanks

  13. I am at my wits end. I have two cats one is 17 and one is 16. I had three litter boxes and my 16 year old started to poop right outside of each of them. I added a 4th and she still pooped outside the litter boxes but other than that all else was done in the litter boxes by both cats. I started putting a different type of litter in two of them to see if maybe she was tired of what I have been using all along (for 16 years) but they just started using all 4 of them. Then all of the sudden the one that was pooping outside of the litter box started to go to the bathroom outside of the room where their litter boxes are. She now refuses to use the litter boxes and is peeing/pooping all over by downstairs! I have put the litter boxes where she is going and she just finds another spot. I am cleaning the spots with all the recommended cleaners that gets rid of the smell, I have comfort zone plug ins I am using, I got the Cat Attract litter, nothing will make her go in the box. Now my other cat has diareaha and has started going upstairs in my house all over my rugs. I block her off, she finds another rug. My whole house is a litter box and I am at a lose as to what to do. I have had them both to the vet the older one had a bladder infection and went thru medication and is now on probiotics for the diareaha and steriods in case her back legs are hurting her (they look like they are) I am trying everything that the vet says and it is just not working! I even put foil down where they are going and they don’t care, they pee on that. As for having a hard time getting into the litter boxes or liking the size, I have all different sizes and they have no issues jumping on the couches or going up and down steps. They are like family to me so I cannot just get rid of them but my whole house smells of cat pee and poop and my floor downstairs is ruined and will cost me over 7,000.00 to replace it!

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