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Not using litter box.

Species: Cat
Breed: unknown
Age: More than 15 ye
All of a sudden my cat, has decided to use her litterbox to urinate only. She will not poop in her litterbox. She has recently taken to going on a paper that we put on the floor when she started this. She usually poops in the same spot but on occasions she will do it in other areas. Since she is older, she does have arthritus (sp?) but I don't think this enters into it because she does urinated in her box. Please help .... I am planning to move her into another home where I am taking care of my Mother who has dementia and I'm sure she will not like her behavior. Thank you.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Linda,

Thanks very much for your question. I'm sorry to hear that your cat is doing this frustrating behavior!

This can sometimes be difficult to fix but I have a few thoughts for you.

The most common reason for an older cat to defecate outside of the box is because of arthritis. Many older cats will develop a condition called lumbosacral disease where there is pain near the end of the spinal cord. This can cause pain sometimes when they get into the posture they need to defecate.

Given this information, there are two possible reasons for the pain to cause her to defecate outside of the box. The first is that she may have a slightly different posture inside the box (i.e. trying to avoid touching the walls) and that posture hurts more than just letting it drop out with minimal crouching. The second is that she may have had some pain once when she defecated in the box and now she doesn't want to poop in the box so that she can avoid having that pain again.

Here are a few ideas for you: Try getting a new box. Experiment with box sizes. You can try using a large rubbermaid container. Alternatively you can try using a boot tray (i.e. no walls for her to climb over).

It is very important to keep the box clean. Some cats can develop behavioral issues where they will not use a box that they think is unclean. A good way to help with this is to have 2 or 3 boxes.

If it is behavioral a product called feliway may help. It is a plug in diffuser that emits pheromones (hormones) that help reduce stress in cats. You can get them at most pet stores.

Ideally it would be great to have your vet look at Patches and take some xrays of her spine. If she does have lumbosacral syndrome she would benefit from some pain medication and this may solve the problem as well. Unfortunately there is no over the counter medication for pain that is safe for cats.

I really hope things improve soon! Let me know if you have more concerns.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.