12 year old cat won't poop in the litter box

by Eve
(Ohio)

I have 5 cats in total. My 9 year old neutered male cat whom I have had for 5 years has always been aggressive toward the cat in question...


I tried to keep them separated but he kept breaking out.

My 12 year old spayed female cat has always been "odd." She has always been very solitary, and will unexpectedly nip when patting her (she also growls as she smooges).

The 12 year old cat started pooping outside the litter box about 6 months ago. Sometimes it is within a foot or two of the litter box, other times it is across the room.

A couple of months ago she started peeing in front of the vent in the kitchen. I yelled at her when I caught her in the act, but she continued to pee anyway.

I placed a litter box under the kitchen table and it appears that the peeing has stopped, but the pooping continues (even when she knows my male cat is upstairs).

I don't know if she has dementia or if there is another problem. Any suggestions????






My Thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear the your cat is having troubles, Eve. It sounds like you've got a lot going on there, so we need to break it down.

You've got an aging cat (12 years old) with both inapropriate urination and defecation, although not starting at the same time. The urination problem has been solved by the addition of another litter box, but the defecation problem continues.

I don't know her medical history, but if she's been pooping outside the box for 6 months, and you take her to the vet once a year, then either she's been to the vet since this started (what did the vet say?) or she's due within the next 6 months. Perhaps you can speed up the time table and take her to the vet sooner, rather than later?

Medical problems (it could be age related and dementia is a possibility) need to be solved first, before any behaviorial modification can take place. So I'd get her into the vet and describe these problems in detail.

Looking beyond that, it sounds like she might be a bit of a "jumpy" cat to begin with. As you say, she's "odd" although many cats will bite when stimulated.

She may be just one of those cats that prefers to be the only cat in the house, too, and this has become a bit much for her to handle.

You say that your male cat "kept breaking out." I would guess that it's possible that she had a worse than usual run in (or more frequent "meetings") with him just before this all started? That could have thrown her off.

She may just be nervous and stressed about being intimidated by him. The fact that he's upstairs may not make her feel all that much better as there is no guarantee that he'll stay there.

Stress is a major cause of litter box problems, so my suggestion would be to try to make her life as stress free as possible.

You can try Feliway and/or Rescue Remedy to see if that relieves her stress. Some vets will prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, but I'd rather not go there if it's not necessary.

As long as the vet certifies her as healthy, I would also increase her exercise level and playtime.

Make sure you play with her daily and burn off some stress. Let her sink her teeth and claws into some catnip filled stuffed animals. Let her get a feeling of control.

I would certainly make sure that you're making good use of vertical space and hiding places. Some cats like to get up high, others like to be down low and hidden.

In multi-cat households, cats usually take turns with various hiding places, perches, scratching boards and sleeping spots. The more varied you can make it the better and the higher the better.

She may feel a great feeling of relief if she can take the high ground on a cat tree for a while. She may also appreciate some alone time.

I don't know if this is possible or if it will work, and you may have tried all of this already...

But, can you arrange sessions where she and the aggressive cat are near each other (but protected) and doing "happy" things?

If they can be separated by a sliding glass door, for example, and be fed at the same time. They can see each other, and eating tends to be a good experience.

Lastly, temporary isolation may be the way to go. Restrict her access to a single room with all the amenities, show her lots of praise, never punish her for "mistakes" and get her back on track with the box.

Make sure you or someone she really likes visits her a lot and exercises her every day. It's not punishment, it's retraining.

While she's isolated, you may be able to get the male cat to "play under the door" (get a fishing pole or wand toy).

This may get the two of them to be friendlier. Or you can feed them on either side of the door at the same time.

I would not start that until she's been isolated for a couple of days. Don't force that interaction and if she's not interested or complains to much, let it be. You don't want to stress her even more.

I hope that helps and please let us know how she gets along.
-Kurt

P.S. Thank you for taking care of all of these kitties!

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Aug 16, 2012
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Cat poops outside box
by: Kim

Eve, I sympathize with you. One of my 2 12 year old cats poops outside the box once or twice a week, anywhere in the house she chooses, even the kitchen sink!

My vet and I think it is behavioral since there doesn't seem to be any physical reason. I think it's to punish me if I haven't played with her enough! But that's just speculation.

She also seems to sometimes have a "fear of poop" like when it sometimes gets stuck on her fur on the way out. Who knows. I have no suggestions for you, just wanted to say I hope you are able to help her.

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