My cat poops on the floor even when the litter box is clean!!

by Patricia
(Seneca Falls, New York USA)

Queenie and her baby

Queenie and her baby

My boyfriend and I have a 3 yr old female cat that uses the litter box, but at least 2-3 times a day she poops on the floor.

We have 2 other males one is 8 months, and the other is 7 months old.

We pay attention to her as much as we can, the other males tend to get in her way when she's getting attention so that they can too.

They are constantly trying to play with her and sometimes she will and other times, she will growl and hiss at them.

Please give us some advice to figure out this problem. We love her and do not want to give her away, but this happens everyday and is very frustrating.

My Thoughts:

Assuming there are no physical problems that your vet can find, my guess would be that she might be stressed out by something, possibly the other cats. The stress that results from aggression between house mates can certainly cause litter box problems.

I see in the picture that she's caring for her kitten. If this is recent, and the problem is recent, then it may be related as mother cats have a lot of stress.

When you have an older female in the house, there may come a time when she shows aggression toward the younger males. This happens as part of the natural course of events as normally it would be time for the males to go out on their own.

So, Queenie may be trying to the let the boys know they're getting older. She also may be getting pushed down in the hierarchy as the male cats get older and look to dominate.

Any of the above may be causing some stress. The good news there is that eventually, one of the males will likely emerge as the dominant cat, and things will settle down.

In addition, cats can be moody just like people, and some cats just do better as the only cat in the house.

Also, adult cats sometimes get annoyed when younger cats pester them to play too much. The hissing may be due to that, or it may be due to her trying to hold on to her authority, or trying to kick the boys out of the nest.

Try to exercise the boys, show them attention, and keep them occupied as much as possible so they don't bother her as much.

Without separating her from the boys, it may be hard to reduce the stress and retrain her to use the box 100% of the time. If you try to retrain her without reducing the stress, it's probably pointless.

Sometimes separating cats that have gotten into a routine can cause even more stress, which adds to the variables.

So, if possible, I would start by reducing the stress level as much as possible. Feliway Spray is synthetic cat cheek pheromone and has been known to reduce or eliminate both aggression and litter box problems.

Spray it on all the common areas, and spray it on your clothes when you play with the cats. You can get the diffuser also which fills the room with the pheromones.

I would also try to give her as much attention as possible, and keep things interesting by providing plenty of toys for everyone. Leaving treats around the house for the cats to find can help too to distract them and bring out some hunting behavior.

If full isolation is not possible, you can try separating her from the boys for periods of time. If you can be alone with her in a room and give her lots of attention without interference from the other cats, that may help her feel more secure.

Full isolation retraining would involve placing her in a well lit room with food, water, toys, a cat bed, and a litter box. This sometimes works in extreme cases where nothing else does.

You have to control access and also control the reintegration process once the retraining is done. If things go back to the way they were, you have to start again with isolation.

If nothing else works, then working with a pet psychologist is your next option. Something worth noting is that if you're following the one plus one rule, you should have four litter boxes in the house for three cats.

Some cats often don't like to go in a box that was recently used by another cat. Others like one for pee and one for poop. Ideally the boxes should be strategically placed for easy access.

So, to summarize a bit... First make sure there are no physical problems, and then...

1) Make sure you have enough litter boxes.

2) Reduce stress as much as possible.

3) Try Feliway.

4) Distract everybody with toys and treats and try to exercise the boys to burn off excess energy.

5) Give plenty of attention to everybody.

6) Try isolation, either partial or full.

The golden rule, of course, is never punish, always praise. And, the usual, is keep everything squeaky clean and make sure you clean any areas that she's soiled with an enzymatic type cleanser that removes the odor.

I hope those ideas help to get you going in the right direction. Best of luck with her and let us know how it goes.

P.S. If anyone else has any ideas, let's hear them. These problems are not easy!

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