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Cat pooping in the house.

Species: Cat
Breed: maine coon cat
Age: 2-5 years
Princess has recently started pooping around the house (about 2 months). I have had her to the vet and they did battery of tests. She is healthy as a horse. The exception would be a higher heart rate and a slightly elevated thyroid level. Vet said that could be from nerves from being at vet. What could be the cause of this new behavior? Nothing at home has changed. She is an indoor cat. I can't take much more of this. HELP! Thank you.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, this is a frustrating problem! Hopefully I can give you a few tips that may be able to help.

We often don't know why a cat will suddenly decide to poop outside of the box. There are a few possible reasons.

The first thing we look for are medical reasons. It sounds like you have had your vet do a good exam and blood tests. You may want to ask them if they think there is any possibility of something called lumbosacral syndrome. This is a condition where cats get some arthritis at the base of the spine. It can cause pain when they defecate.

As a result, some cats hold on to their poop for too long and then eventually go in the house somewhere. Or, some cats will make a mental connection that it hurt the last time they pooped in the litter box so they don't want to poop in the box again.

If your vet feels that this is not a medical problem then it may be behavioral. So, here are a few things that I suggest:

  • Get rid of your litter box and replace it with at least 2 new ones. Even though you likely clean it regularly, the plastic can retain odors that our noses can't pick up.

  • If you have more than one cat then you need to have at least one more litter box than the number of cats you have.

  • Have a few different kinds of boxes - for example, one with a tall wall and one with a very short wall.

  • You can experiment with different types of cat litter.

  • If there is a specific area that she is using to defecate in, if possible restrict her access to this area.

  • You can try putting pee pads down in several areas. Many times a cat will defecate on one of these. If so, then you can move the pad a little bit closer to the litter box area each day until eventually it is into the box. This may retrain her to use the box.

  • Or, another thing you could do is to put a litter box in the room where she is pooping. Then, gradually move this box a few inches each day towards the appropriate spot.

  • You may want to look into a product called Feliway which is a plug in diffuser that releases something called pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that help cats to feel good. They relieve stress in cats. They often work well for cats who have inappropriate behavior like this.

  • If none of these things are working you may want to ask your vet about using a medication called amitryptilline. This medication helps with anxiety in cats. Even though she may not seem anxious, many cats will have subtle anxiety and the only way they show us is by defecating where they shouldn't.



I hope these tips help!

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.

Customer reply:

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I will try the new litter box and look into the plug in. I will also check with vet about medication as I have felt anxiety was possibly the problem. Thank you again. Angela


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! Hope all goes well!



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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.