My cat pees in his box(es) but poops on the floor

by Amanda
(Portland, OR)

My husband and I have an 8 year old cat that we've had since he was a kitten. A couple of years ago he decided he no longer wanted to poop in his litter box and would rather poop in the main hallway, by the sliding glass door, in our guest room or in my husband's office.

We bought two huge litter boxes that are uncovered to try and help the problem, but he seems to only like to pee in the boxes and not poop in them.

In the summer he decided to start pooping out in our yard, but once the weather got rainy he has gone back to his old ways of pooping indoors.

His litter boxes are in a quiet and private part of the house. We do have a dog and another cat, but Oliver is the boss of them both. The other animals actually are fearful of him.

Our other cat was a stray cat and lives indoor/outdoor so he does not use a box at all. So Oliver doesn't have to share his litter boxes.

He also is in good health so it's not a health issue causing him to poop where he pleases.

My husband and I are having a baby in February and Oliver's pooping out of the box has got to stop. We cannot have a baby around this.

I don't want him to be an outside cat, as he's only been indoors his whole life other than our small fenced yard.

My husband is ready to get rid of him and I really don't want this to happen. We have also tried the Cat Attract litter and additive with no success.

If anyone has any advice or has had a similar situation PLEASE let me know how you were able to fix this serious issue. THANK YOU!!

My thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that Oliver is having problems, Amanda. Did anything happen in Oliver's life right around the time that this started? I assume he was OK up until the age of about 6 (2 years ago).

What changed? Did you add or remove another pet/family member? Did you move or change the house or furniture in any way?

Was his routine interrupted by scheduling or feeding changes? Was there some stress?

You've tried Cat Attract with no success. Have you tried Feliway?

Some cats that are good with an outdoor bathroom will take to a litter box if it resembles the garden. Have you tried adding some grass and/or dirt to his litter box?

His litter boxes are in a private part of the house. That's good, but does he normally frequent those areas?

If he has an undiagnosed bowel issue, maybe he can't get to the litter box because he's not nearby. Cats are considered senior at age 7, so maybe he started having age related bowel problems at 6 and the litter boxes just aren't convenient.

Are his stools dry? He may be experiencing chronic or intermittent constipation, which has caused an association of pain to the act of pooping in the litter box.

If Oliver is the boss and the other pets are fearful, he may be pooping to assert his dominance. Some cats will refuse to bury their feces in the box, others will use the floor to show that they're top cat.

Another thought is that an indoor cat and an indoor/outdoor cat can be a complex dynamic. If one cat goes out and comes back smelling like a threat, it can create tension.

The next thing is... are all the surfaces hard floors? If so, he may prefer that surface, so try to give him that in his box.

Take a big litter box or plastic container and put a small amount of litter in it to one side, exposing a nice hard surface for him to use.

Have you tried placing a box right on top of one of the spots he likes to use? See what he does.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how his situation progresses.

P.S. Congratulations on your baby!

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