The litter box is one of the worst enemies of cat parents, and things become even worse if the cat randomly decides to make a mess where it shouldn’t. Unfortunately, seeing poop around the house is not uncommon for cat parents, but it’s rarely without reason.
Felines are smart creatures, so they don’t just go around and poop when they feel like it! It is usually down to dislike for their litter box or certain health conditions. So, if you’ve been asking yourself, “Why is my cat suddenly pooping outside of the litter box?”, you’re in the right place.
Here I list the nine most common reasons why this happens. Getting to the root of the issue is the best way to find a solution. So, do you want to stop your cat from pooping where it shouldn’t? Keep reading to learn how to rid this behavior for good!
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Pooping Outside The Litter Box?
Is your cat pooping on the floor all of a sudden? Cats are known as neat freaks, so when something unexpected like this happens, you should think about their behavior and what caused it. Numerous reasons can make your cat out and leave poop or pee around the house. Here are the nine most common described in detail.
1. Stress & Anxiety
A scared cat will hide and becomes withdrawn, but it will also poop outside the litter box. If your cat is suddenly exhibiting this unwelcome behavior, it is likely a new stressor has entered their environment and upset them. To remove the pooping problem, you need to remove the cause of stress.
Even though they don’t always seem like it, cats are sensitive creatures that can easily be scared or stressed out. The cause can be anything, including things like:
- New family members in your household
- Loud and unfamiliar noises and sounds
- New pets being welcomed into the family
- Conflict from other pets or neighborhood cats
- The litter box moving location in your home
- Redecorating your home or moving house
- Changes to their usual feeding schedule
As you can see, the brave face is just a shield, and you have to be very careful around your feline. Finding the exact reason and stress factor can be a long journey, and the easiest way to figure things out is with observation. You can eliminate the factors one by one and then finally discover the cause.
On the other hand, some stress can be more long-term. If you recently adopted a new feline that you don’t know much about, it might be pooping on the floor because of its background. Traumatic incidents in your cat’s life can also cause long-term stress and pooping problems. In fact, this is one of the main traumatized cat symptoms together with mood swings, fearfulness, and aggression.
2. Dirty Litter Box
Felines hate dirty litter boxes! So if you saw the cat pooping on the floor randomly, then you should check to see whether the litter box is clean. These furry creatures enjoy clean environments, so if they feel like the box is too full, they will find another spot to do their business – even if that’s your beloved hardwood floors!
Although this behavior is frustrating, in this case, you’re the one to blame. Once the cat smells the unpleasant urine odor coming from the box, she might turn away and make a mess. Since your cats can’t clean the box themselves, you have to take care of their litter box hygiene.
3. Health Conditions
Numerous medical conditions can lead to your cat pooping in the house all of a sudden. Some of the issues you should know about include urinary tract infections, kidney diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid conditions, and diabetes.
Most of these diseases cause your feline to have an urgent need to poop, so she won’t have enough time to get to the litter box. These can also all be reasons for your cat peeing everywhere all of a sudden too. Unfortunately, these conditions cause significant pressure, pain, or discomfort, so she’ll have to do her business around the house instead of in the box.
If your feline friend does have a medical condition, you will likely pick up on other symptoms of illness alongside their toilet troubles. The exact symptoms depend on the conditions, but common signs of illness include sickness and diarrhea, lethargy, weight change, and behavioral changes.
On the other hand, elderly cats often struggle with arthritis, a disease that prevents them from moving like younger cats. This can make it extremely uncomfortable for your cat to climb in and out of the tray and so they poop elsewhere.
4. Marking Territory
Felines are extremely territorial, and if there is a new person or animal in their vicinity it can make them feel extremely on edge. Common examples of this include a new pet, a new baby, or unfamiliar guests. Other pets in the neighborhood or wildlife around the house can also trigger instinctive territorial behaviors.
When cats feel that their territory is in danger, they often poop or spray around the house to leave their mark. The scent of their poop and pee marks the area as “theirs” and makes them feel more at ease. It’s an unpleasant situation and will put you in a position where you have to clean, remove odors, and wipe surfaces with special solutions to prevent it from happening again.
5. Wrong Litter Box Type
Felines are notoriously picky about their litter box – if it is the wrong style design then they might refuse to use it. This can happen even if you have used the same type of litter box for some time. As cats grow and age, their needs change with them. The litter box must match their current situation for them to willingly use it.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to finding the perfect litter box. Below are just some of the factors you need to consider:
- Entry Type: All cats will happily climb in and out of a simply tray-style litter box. However, elderly cats, cats with mobility issues, and small kittens can’t use top-entry litter boxes. Doors are usually an issue for long-haired cats because they cause static electricity to their fur.
- Size: A litter box must be spacious enough for the cat to feel comfortable. Small litter boxes might not do the job, especially if you own a large breed such as a Maine Coon. There are jumbo-sized boxes that provide the ultimate comfort for these bigger breeds.
- Open or Closed: Many cats are scared of getting inside a closed litter box, so they’ll just circle it and do their business elsewhere. Smells can also accumulate inside enclosed litter boxes which can be offputting. Others don’t mind whether the design is open or closed, but they don’t like entering through a small door.
- Automatic: If you own an automatic litter box, the cat can be scared of the noises it releases. Robot litter boxes are excellent, but what if your feline can’t stand it and might want to stay away from it at all costs.
6. Not Enough Litter Boxes
Leaving multiple cats with a single litter box is never a good idea. First of all, there will always be a struggle about the box territory. Your cats will fight over it, and some will use the floor instead. Shared litter boxes also get dirty much more quickly, so the smells can put either one of your cats off.
You ideally should have a minimum of one litter box per cat. So, if you have just adopted a new cat, make sure you have also increased the number of litter boxes in your home.
7. Not Litter Trained
There is a chance that your cat is pooping around the house as it isn’t litter trained. If you adopted a stray, you might notice it doesn’t know how to use the litter box. This is because stays don’t have litter boxes. Instead, they just dig in the ground, do their business, and then cover it with more dirt.
Kittens also mistakenly poop on the floor and need their mom to teach them how to use the litter box. If you have just bought a kitten home, they might still make a mess even if they are litter trained. Leaving their siblings and mom for the first time is daunting. Don’t be surprised if you find your new cat hiding under the bed and pooping there.
Some senior cats also make this mistake because of cognitive decline. As cats age, their brains can deteriorate and they can forget learned behaviors such as how to use the litter box. You will notice other behavioral changes and spatial disorientation if your cat’s memory and learning skills are going.
8. Wrong Cat Litter
It isn’t just the litter box that cats are fussy about – they are also finicky about the type of litter you use. There are so many things that your cat can dislike about the litter you’ve been buying. The issue can be in the texture, smell, quality, and quantity. All these features are important to your picky furry friend, so you can’t solve the issue until you try different types.
In general, cats aren’t fans of scented litters and prefer a more granular consistency. Another common issue is too much or not enough litter in the box. Try pouring litter at different levels, and you’ll see whether your cat’s behavior changes.
9. Poor Litter Box Location
Felines aren’t only picky about the litter box and litter, but also about the placement. If your furry friend doesn’t like the location of the box, it can take the easy way out and poop on the floor. This usually happens when cats feel anxious and don’t feel safe in the litter box location.
For example, if the box is in a high-traffic area, the cat will feel too exposed from all sides. Also, since felines prefer silence and comfort when doing business, try not to place the litter box near loud appliances or in noisy rooms.
How to Stop My Cat Pooping On the Floor Randomly
Is there a way to stop your cat from doing this unpleasant act and spare yourself from rubbing floors and tiles? Yes, there are many ways to deal with a cat suddenly pooping outside the litter box, but only after discovering the cause. Here are some of the most common solutions you can use to deal with your problem.
1. Veterinary Check-Up
The first thing you should always do whenever you notice a behavioral change in your cat is to go to the vet. Tell them precisely what symptoms and changes your cat has been experiencing. With this information, they will assess your cat and look for any potential health complications.
For example, when you tell the vet, “My cat has runny poop all the time, and she hasn’t been going to the litter box,” the vet will immediately suspect an infection. On the other hand, if you ask, “Why does my cat’s poop smell so bad?”, then the vet will suspect parasites or digestive issues. This is why you should know all that’s been going on since the situation started.
2. Clean The Litter Box
Your feline’s litter box has to be clean if you expect the kitty to do its business there. A full and messy litterbox is a recipe for disaster! This is why you should scoop up all waste between one and three times per day. You also need to wash the box and completely replace the litter around once a week.
Another surprising tip is not to clean the box too often. The daily cleanings we mentioned are fine, but you shouldn’t wash the box every day. This can completely remove the cat’s scent from the box, and the feline might not recognize it. Cats need to sense their smell, and this is another way they mark their territory.
3. Change The Litter Box Type
Finding a litter box your cat loves can be such a struggle. If you made any changes to your box before the cat pooped on the floor, you should bring back the old box. Alternatively, start with the most basic design, fill it with the litter your cat likes, and place it in its favorite location. If this doesn’t do the job, you can experiment with different style boxes.
Some cats prefer closed litter boxes because they feel safer, while others feel trapped in them. When you want to use the best of both worlds, you use an open litter box with high sides. That’s how your feline will feel more secure, and it will get the privacy of a closed box. It is all down to your cat’s preference, so you might need to try a few options before finding the optimal solution.
4. Change The Litter
If the cat was going to the box without any issues before and you have just purchased new litter, the issue is probably that it doesn’t like how it feels or the smell. So, what is the best litter for cats who pee outside of the box? Unfortunately, there is no best brand of litter that will solve your problem.
Just like the style of the litter box, the solution mainly depends on your cat’s preferences! It is a bit of a guessing game, so you might need to try multiple brands and types before the feline likes one. Consider the texture, scent, and dust levels to find the perfect combination.
Another great tip is to pay attention to where in your home they are pooping to offer guidance. For example, if you see that your feline enjoys smooth carpets, you can find finer cat litter that reminds her of your carpets. On the other hand, some felines love tiles. You can place a few tiles inside the litter box and cover them with a little litter.
5. Change The Location
Cats have a preference when it comes to the litter box’s location. So if you notice your feline has a comfy nook or a corner of the house where she wants to go, you can place the litter box nearby. This will make her feel more comfortable and safer.
You can leave the box there or move it a few inches several times a week. If the cat doesn’t mind the new location, you can leave it there, but if it’s not happy that you’re moving it, you’ll have to take it back to its favorite spot. It’s either that or deal with the mess!
6. Add More Litter Boxes
If you have a household with multiple cats, you have to get more than one litter box. An unwritten rule is that you have to have as many litter boxes as you have cats, plus one. In other words, if you have three kitties, you ideally need at least four litter boxes.
This way, none of the felines will feel insecure or the need to use someone else’s box. Additionally, if you live in a house, you should have litter boxes on each floor. If you don’t want your felines to leave messes along the way, there should be multiple boxes they can easily reach.
7. Create A Safe And Calm Environment
If you often ask yourself, “Why is my cat so scared of everything?” and now the feline started pooping everywhere, your answer is because she’s stressed out. Moreover, a stressed cat will show more symptoms. If your cat has diarrhea but seems fine, it could show she’s stressed. Your cat might also have a change in appetite, start hiding from you, or scratch the furniture excessively.
The best way to deal with this issue is by creating a safe environment away from all the stress factors.
Below are just some suggestions of how you can make your home a more cat-friendly and stress-free environment:
- Secure the garden around your home to help prevent other animals from entering the yard
- Ensure all pets have their own parts of the house and separate bowls and litter boxes
- Never let new pets meet right away and initially let them meet through a door, gradually increasing their contact time until they are used to each other’s presence
- Help to stimulate your cat with plenty of toys, cat trees, and places to hide
- Give your cat a quiet room it can retreat to if there are guests in your house
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
I still remember when my cat pooped on the floor for the first time. Seeing your cat suddenly pooping outside the litter box is not a good sight! However, the smell and the messiness are actually the least worrying part of the situation. As a responsible cat parent, probably the first thing on your mind is whether your cat is okay.
Well, she might be just stressed out, but there can also be an underlying health condition that needs treatment by a vet. However, it is more likely your cat has an issue with its litter box. Since cats are picky, you have to be very specific when choosing their toilet, litter, and the location of the box.
Creating a safe, quiet environment for your cats should be your top priority. Many cats are anxious due to changes in their lifestyle, so they prefer peace and quiet. If you discover that the litter box or litter are the issue, you can start searching for alternatives right away. But scheduling a vet visit is still a must! You need to know for sure that there are no underlying health conditions to worry about.