An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Puzzled by Poop - Part 8 of Litterbox Blues

Dear Greyce, I am a 13-year-old cat with chronic renal failure. I lived with an older couple who were around all day and gave me lots of attention. But they went to live in a seniors home. Then I was taken to a new home (their daughter's) and since she works all day I have been quite lonely. When she returns from work, I talk to her a lot and she gives me attention. I no longer have the strength to jump on and off things, so she has placed stools to help me get to where I need to go.

I have two, deep litter boxes with unscented litter which is scooped several times a day. I use them for peeing but now prefurr to poop on the carpet rather than in the box. When she discovered my deposits on the carpet, my purrson used to be angry with me. Now she is just puzzled and I can't explain it to her. Can you help me? Kitty

 My goodness, Kitty, a cat in your condition (receiving fluid therapy) probably uses the litter box a lot! Thank goodness you have a purrson who scoops it out so often. Now about that pooping. Let's play cat detective and try to find the reason behind this.

Many cats who take to pooping outside the box for one of the following reasons:
1) The box is too dirty (certainly not the case with yours).

2) There has been some change in your routine which has made you anxious (no evidence of that).

3) You are a long-haired cat and fine clumping litter is uncomfortable for you to use. I don't know if you ARE a long-hair. If so, the problem would probably have shown up much sooner. But just in case you are, I'd suggest switching one of your boxes to Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter for Long-haired Cats -- a special litter made to deal with the issues that long-hairs have when using conventional litter.

4) You are experiencing discomfort in evacuating your stools and associate that pain with the box -- so you seek another, potentially pain-free location. Several things can cause pain -- lack of flexibility in the joints, constipation, and/or impacted anal glands. Let me take them in turn:
  • Flexibility issues usually show up in cats who use the box, but their stools fall outside it (like Smooshie's used to in my entry, Stand and Deliver -- October 29/09).
  • Constipation MAY be an issue for you (because Lactulose is to help keep your stools soft). Your stool should be the shape of a small cigar (not small round balls), somewhat pliable though hold its shape when just evacuated (as opposed to being rock hard -- this will be impossible to tell if the stool has been out for some time), and dark brown in colour. If your stool looks like small balls or has a lot of hair in it, please consult with your veterinarian for assistance.
  • Since you see your veterinarian often, I assume that your anal glands have been checked, just in case they are impacted and giving your problems. However, if that was the case, you would be likely to scoot your butt along the floor -- and dragging it along the carpet would have left some brown skid marks as evidence. So let's not go there.

5) You are not feeling well (a definite possibility).


Have your purrson buy you a new litterbox with LOW sides (10 cm -- 4 inches in American, is about right) -- just so that it is easier for you to get in and out of. Make sure this box is big enough for you to be comfortable in.

Get a litter (or litter additive) that will attract you back to the box.
  • If you are currently using an unscented clumping litter that does NOT have baking soda added to it, then have her buy Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter Additive (by Precious Cat -- no that's not my company!), available at many pet stores.  This litter has a special herbal attractant that catches the attention of many cats and makes them want to use the box it is in. If she follows the directions on the package for mixing it with your current litter (in your new box), then it should work well.
  • If your current litter is not the kind I mentioned above (unscented clumping with NO baking soda), then she has the choice of either a) getting a small bag of the proper clumping litter to try out WITH the Litter Additive, OR b) buying Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter -- yes it's a litter with the additive already included. It's more expensive than using the mix but might be worth it.
Note that the Dr. Elsey's name is quite small on the bag and your purrson might just notice "Precious Cat" instead.

Once the Cat Attract has been added to your NEW box, make sure your purrson puts it in the area where you tend to poop -- away from the boxes you urinate in.

And although you didn't ask for my help with it, I want to take a moment to deal with your loneliness. If this is not already being done, your purrson might keep the radio tuned to a channel that has voices on it (no, not loud obnoxious voices announcing deals on used cars, but rather voices engaged in interviews and long conversations) to keep you company while she is away. Just make sure it is a reasonable (low) volume and tuned properly so you don't have to listen to a lot of static.

Kitty I wish you the very best.



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