2 of my cats will pee in the box but won't poop

by Scott
(Reno, NV)

I currently have four male cats, all adopted within the last 2 plus years. About a week ago I changed litter as I was really not happy with the one I was using.

I scooped it about 2-3 days later and found very little feces.

One of them (who is the latest adoption -- about a month ago) has diarrhea due only to stress (He has no problems with the other cats or my home but is still very uncomfortable with me).

Took the other three to the vet. One of them apparently pooped while in the carrier and had it all stuck in his fur so I know he is OK.

One of the others I saw once go into the box, circle, squat but nothing happened. He left but did not come back.

The last one I have not even seen try to poop. The vet said that there was no constipation and that they all looked very healthy.

They all eat (Purina One urinary health dry and a quarter of a can of Purina plus every couple of days) and drink fine. Also their personalities and activeness/socializing has not changed.

In order of mention they are 1 1/2 yrs and about 12 pounds, 4 yrs and about 11 pounds, 4 yrs and about 12 pounds, and 3 1/2 yrs and 16 pounds. I searched my whole house and found nothing (there are not many places to go for them to hide it).

The vet was confused as well. Please help if you can.

My Thoughts:

I'm stumped too, Scott. Unless there's intestinal blockage, it's got to come out some time, right?

Assuming the vet isn't missing anything, and assuming they're not constipated, then we'd have to guess stress.

Any changes (addition of a new cat), changing of litter type, and so on can induce stress. The stress can also build up and while a cat may not show it today, 2 months later... problems.

A couple of points...

1) Never go cold turkey. Always change litter slowly, adding in maybe 20 percent of the new litter to the mix to start, taking several days to change it completely.

2) Give your cats a choice, if possible. Put a litter box of the new litter mix next to the old box with 100 percent old litter, and let your cat choose which one they want to use.

3) For 4 cats, you should have 5 boxes.

4) If you're using scoopable, clumping litter, scoop at least daily.

5) The one that pooped while in the carrier... that would indicate to me that he might have been holding it because he's not happy about the new litter.

6) When one cat is stressed, they're all stressed, even if not all of them show it all at once.

Were the feces you found dry and pebble-like? That's a sign of constipation, although if you wait a couple of days to scoop, it's hard to tell sometimes.

If these were my cats, I'd be concerned about a missed health issue, but I'd start by reverting back to the old litter and watching things closely.

I might also try a mild laxative if the vet approves of that. That's my take on it.

I hope that gives you some ideas. It sounds like you're a really good cat parent and I thank you for adopting all of these little guys.

Please let us know how things turn out.

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Jan 19, 2012

The timeline of when all the things have happened is well over that of cats with a slow cycle I believe. I switched the litters last Wed. (not yesterday), scooped Sat., took to the vet Tues.

I truly believe they should have gone by now. Also for the one that went in the carrier, I believe he was fine all along as there was a minute amount of feces in the litter, enough for a minor bowel movement. When you put together that with the accident in the carrier it just makes sense.

Granted I could think that they all went a little but I am almost 100% sure they didn't, given the actions of the 2 cats in question regarding how they act in the box or in my one cat's case, not even getting in the box and fighting me a little when I try to put him in it (I have only tried that a couple of times).

Jan 19, 2012
Don't beat yourself up
by: Kurt (Admin)

I know it's natural to panic when something like this happens. Don't beat yourself up about this, though, Scott.

If the vet is right and their colons are empty, there is no way I can think of that changing out the litter could have caused that.

Obviously your veterinarian doesn't think so either, so go easy on yourself. You've done the right thing... you took them to the vet.

If the vet felt they were in danger, I'm assuming he would have suggested an overnight stay.

As long as the vet says they're empty, and they're eating, drinking, and acting normally, I'm guessing the next step would probably be x-rays, ultrasound, and blood work. And a trip to a veterinary internal medicine specialist.

I'm wondering... are they both on a normally "slow" schedule? Some cats don't poop as often as others, just like humans.

Did the vet mention that? Or are you sure this is unusual for them?

Jan 19, 2012

Thanks for the reply. My vet checked all 3 of them over thoroughly spending extensive time on their colons. Supposedly all 3 were empty. I have been using this vet for 10 plus years and have faith in him.

The part that makes this hard (and confusing) is that there is no sign of distress at all. No crying, straining signs of stress, multiple trips to the box in a short time etc etc.... nothing at all. It's almost like they are not producing stool at all.

As for the stress of the fourth cat coming in I do not believe that is the problem as they never even had a problem with each other when I brought him in, let alone now (a month+ later).

The boxes I use are the same type I have always used and they have never had a problem with them. I use 10 - 15 gallon Rubbermaid type containers that are short and wide since the cats are larger sized cats (plenty of room to move and dig).

Earlier today I threw out their old boxes (had them quite awhile and was planning to change them out before all this happened anyway) and started fresh with new boxes and litter. Even though I did not like the stuff I will go out later and buy a box of the old litter they were using and hope that works cause if not I have no clue what else to do.

I basically have not slept for 3 straight nights and am very scared of losing them. I have already lost 3 cats in the past 2+ years -- 2009 I lost one (just short of 10 years old) to kidney failure and bladder crystals/stones and one (just 9 years old) to a saddle thrombosis and then just this past Dec. I lost the third (just short of 9 years old) due to massive urinary blockage and crystals/stones.

I am really kicking my self for how I handled switching their litter because I am in bad financial shape and went and switched to a much cheaper brand of litter that was of a different consistency than what they were used to. It is so hard to not blame myself and feel like I may have sealed their fate.

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