12 Year Old Yellow Female Defecating Outside the Box

by Leslie

We have two 12 year old females. "Molly", our long haired yellow/orange has started defecating on the floor at night.

She does urinate in the box. Our Vet has ruled out medical problems.

The problem started several months ago. I have 4 litter boxes downstairs, and I clean them daily.

We left them last November (2013) for a visit with relatives (a friend looked in on them daily). Unfortunately, I had a serious medical emergency that kept us away from home for 5 weeks.

Molly has had MUCH attention since we have been back, but the "poop" problem goes on. Any suggestions would be more than welcome!

My thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that Molly is having troubles. If this started after your prolonged absense, it's possible that the separation triggered some anxiety.

You say she's doing it at night? Only at night? How many times per day does she go?

If she only goes at night, that doesn't tell us much, but if she poops in the box during the day, then...

If it's only at night that she has the problem, what is it about the night time that's triggering this?

Is the area around the boxes well lit? If she's having some vision problems, maybe she's trying to tell you she can't see well enough anymore.

Does she have access to you at night? If not, perhaps she's feeling some separation anxiety and that triggers her response.

You might try an experiment and stay up with her all night and see if her behavior changes. Then, do some separation trials to get her used to not being with you (much like you would do with a human baby).

is she doing this? Is it near the box? Is it on the top floor of the house?

Has she developed a location preference? In other words, does she use the same spot every time?

If she does, then placing a litter box right on the area she prefers may encourage her to use the box. Then, after she's consistent, you can slowly move that box to a more desirable location.

You have 4 litter boxes, which is great (many people don't have enough), but they are all on one floor of a multi-story house? Are they close together, like they're all one big box, or 2 big boxes?

It's usually best to place them apart from each other so they're not like one giant box, and it's best to have at least one box on each floor of the house.

You clean the boxes daily, which is fantastic, but when do you clean them? If it's in the mornings, try cleaning them at night as well and see if her behavior changes.

I'm glad to hear that your vet has checked her out. I will say, though, that I have had some readers whose cats had physical problems that were not detected until some more extensive testing had been done.

Exercise is good for the bowels and a good stress reliever (assuming anxiety is the problem). As long as the vet says she's fine, I would try some morning and evening play sessions.

There are some products you can try for stress relief. I've heard of people having good success with Jackson Galaxy's products, and there's Rescue Remedy and Feliway.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how she comes along.


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Aug 16, 2014
Have his kidneys checked
by: Kurt (Admin)


Glad to hear that Feliway is working for you. I'm sorry to hear that Casey is having problems, though.

I would make sure Casey is getting plenty of moisture, and that he doesn't have chronic kidney disease. Many cats with CKD are borderline dehydrated and as a result, have constipation problems.

When Teddie had constipation, Lactulose was the preferred method, although it's not without its potential problems. It can cause diarrhea, so you usually want to start with a low dose and then increase it if needed.

For moisture, wet food is typically the recommended option, and I would also try multiple water bowls and running water to encourage him to drink more. Lactulose can pull water into the bowels, but he has to take in enough water to begin with.

You can also try canned pumpkin (plain, no spices) added to wet food. This has helped some cats with constipation and is recommended by some vets. You can get something like
Nummy Tum Tum Pure Pumpkin For Pets from Amazon.

Of course, always go with your veterinarian's recommendations.

I hope he's just plugged up and gets over it quickly.

Aug 16, 2014
Pooping outside the box
by: Ruth

We have been using the Feliway for this issue when we got a new cat. Rocky is 12 and our other two cats we already had are also twelve. The diffuser is helping with this problem. But Casey our tuxedo also has an issue which is serious. He gets constantly constipated. He takes laxatone twice a day but this was not enough. He now has to take lactulose twice a day. We are trying to get this under control. I think that you should see a vet about this because it is probably health related. I had a cat before that had colon surgery because he had mega colon.

Aug 14, 2014
Kurt, Thank you for Your Thoughts
by: Leslie

I really appreciate your suggestions. The litter boxes are downstairs in my studio. They have always been there. Molly seems to only leave one "pile" per night on the floor. There doesn't seem to be a preferred spot.. on the tile, on the carpet, on the stairs, etc.

My current solution is to put her outside overnight. We are making a "kitty condo" for her outside. This will work fine for awhile, but it may become a problem this winter.

We'll keep trying to find a solution... Molly really is a big part of our family :)!

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