Cat pooping in one spot

by Heather
(Adelaide, South Australia, Australia)

We've had our kitten, Misha, for 8 weeks - he's now 14 weeks old - and for the first 6 weeks he was using the litter box with no problems. Misha sleeps in the bathroom, which has a bath and shower area, with the litter tray in the shower area.


When the shower's needed, the tray's moved outside this room, to where the handbasin is and he's used it there with no problems. However, one day we forgot to put the the litter tray back when he was shut in the bathroom to eat his breakfast.

Afterwards, as Misha couldn't access his tray, he pooped in the corner of the shower. He now uses the same corner of the shower to poop, though continues to use the tray to urinate.

However, though I forget exactly when this occurred, I don't recall the problem beginning straight away, otherwise I would've linked the two events. It seems to me that it began at least a week AFTER the day that Misha couldn't get to the tray. Since that one occasion though, we've made sure he's always got access to his tray.

We've changed the type of litter - 4 times - and each time he uses it for urinating, but not pooping.

He has two trays and we've tried leaving one empty, but he's taken to laying in it occasionally and even chewing the sides of it. We've put a large tile on the 'spot' to mimic the shower floor tiles, but he poops in front of it.

He will actually push his litter boxes out of the way to get to the 'spot'.

Our vet suggested we move him so he couldn't get to his 'spot,' so we put him in the handbasin area, but he still pooped on the floor.

We've tried monitoring him and putting him in the tray when he's about to go. He usually jumps out once or twice, then will use the tray - but that could be just 'cos he's run out of time!

He has lots of play each day and a variety of toys and is not urinating or pooping anywhere else in the house. We've had him checked out by the vet who says Misha's very healthy.

About the time this problem started, Misha did have his first Feline Aids vaccination, but this wasn't his first time to the vet, so I don't think that was a cause.

We've had a cat before, but not a kitten and we've probably been 'over-anxious' parents. We also found the first few weeks with him rather stressful, (he liked to bite - a lot - but that's eased), and this anxiety may have been transmitted to Misha.

He has a curious, outgoing nature, is not timid and has a healthy appetite. I've read various articles and the suggestions on this and other sites.

The tin foil option's not really practical as we need to use the shower ourselves daily and there's nowhere else to keep Misha when we're at work.

Any further suggestions?
Misha's mum, Heather.

My Thoughts:

Thanks for the thorough information. It sounds like you've done your homework and you're trying the right stuff Heather.

It may be just a matter of time since he's young, but I've got a few ideas which I'll outline for you.

Regardless of the cause, it seems like Misha has developed a preference for that spot (this is common), or a smooth flat surface in general, like the floor where the handbasin is, which is also common.

1. I think you're on the right track with putting him in the box when he's ready to go. If you do this enough times, he may begin to use the box all the time again. It may be as simple as that. Unfortunately, it's often hard to be consistent since you're not around to watch him all the time.

2. If there's a two day period of time when someone will be around to watch him, you could do exactly what you've been doing, but cage him in between. I'd hate to cage him if you don't have to, but it will help with the consistency over the two days. This is a modified isolation retraining method, and it may work.

3. You had a good idea with an empty litter tray, but modify that a bit...

If he's looking for a smooth surface, you could try a litter box with about 2 inches of litter covering only about one half of the box. This leaves the smooth bottom of the box available for him but also lets him cover up if he wants to.

Some cats seem to prefer this, especially some longhairs, although I can only guess why. Place him in there when it's time and see how he does.

Make sure that the surface underneath the box is hard. Some people have placed boxes on carpet and had problems. Place a board under it if you have to.

Unless he's heavily stressed, depressed, or ill, he likely won't lie around in a litter box that has any litter in it.

One thing I would add is that you might try Feliway pheromone spray. It has been reported to reduce anxiety in cats and resolve litter box problems.

Always praise him heavily when he successfully uses the litter tray, even for urination so that he associates good things with the use of the tray.

Also, have you socialized him much? Let him experience new things (safely of course)... other people, kids, dogs, car rides, and so on. Also give him lots of touchy-feely time. This, combined with some of the things you're trying may bring him around.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how Misha gets on and what worked.

-Kurt

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