2Cats, one pooper on the floor; mystery

by Bonnie

We have a brother and sister team, almost 8 yrs. old and all of a sudden we've noticed that one of them has decided to poop 'outside the box'.

We haven't caught the culprit... yet, b/c it's only happened 3 times in the past month and a half; it's been in different places (the stairs, the downstairs bathroom and last but not least in our studio upstairs).

So needless to say, that cat has picked every level we have... so far. I scoop out the box everyday, have a liner and clean it once a week and replace the litter twice a week.

I am dreading taking both cats to the vet as the male has had a urine problem off and on for 3 yrs. but not sure if it's him this time. The female has been meowing off an on like crazy.

I have 'chased' them both down and rubbed a drop of pepto-bismal a couple of times on their mouth and that seemed to take care of the problem but I need to get this problem taken care of once and for all.

Is it me ('clean enough cat box')? Or is it one of them (behavioral/medical)? And which one???

'Ma-Shugie mommy'

My thoughts:

Well, that's a tough one. I'll give my usual caveat in that you should always rule out medical problems first.

Of course, if one of them is having intermittent constipation, that could be difficult to determine. I would certainly call the vet and get an opinion.

I would say that the only real way to catch the culprit (other than by accident) is to separate the cats, but if it's only happened a few times a few weeks apart, that doesn't seem feasible. So, keeping a close eye on both cats is about all you can do.

I would suspect constipation in the female (or some issue) since she's meowing a lot and that may indicate a problem, but that's a wild guess. I wish I spoke cat.

Obviously if she yells while in the box then that's a big indicator. Also look for multiple visits to the box in a short period of time with no results.

Since it has happened in different locations and I assume on different surfaces, it doesn't sound like a preference for texture and location, which again, leads me to think constipation or some other physical issue.

I've written on this site before about Frankie and her "presents" that she has left on the floor in different areas of the house. What happens with her is that her longish hair gets tangled up in her poop and this leaves her with a cling-on that leaves the box with her.

That cling-on drops off at some point (either from her activity or she works at getting it off) and you can find it just about anywhere in the house.

It's not a case of inappropriate elimination (although it looks that way). The only remedy for that is to help her with diet and/or hair ball treatments to push that hair through, and more frequent grooming.

Some cats will use poop as a marking behavior, so if one of them feels threatened (ill, weakened condition, neighborhood cats on turf, unwanted guest in the house, etc.), then that is a possibility.

If it is constipation then you probably need a combination of a hair ball treatment (like lactulose) and maybe some anti-hair ball food.

You might want to do this with both cats for a while and see if that solves the problem. You still won't know which one it is, but perhaps the problem won't return.

You shouldn't give lactulose to your cat over a long period of time, though, since it inhibits absorption of nutrients. I'm sure your vet will tell you that, but I thought I'd mention it.

Lastly, if it is behavioral, there's something to note. You really should have 3 litter boxes for 2 cats if you go by the one plus one rule. You also should have a box on each level of the house.

If there are no issues, then you can get away with fewer boxes, but if issues persist you might want to add a box. I know, why would they all-of-a-sudden have a problem after all this time? All I can say is... they're cats and sometimes it happens.

Good luck with this and I hope that helps some.
-Kurt

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