6 year old Ragdoll poops outside the litter box

by Kim Thomas
(Delmar, NY, USA)

In past 2 months, our female Ragdoll has begun pooping outside her litter box. We have 2 litter boxes for her, on different floors of the house.

Initially I brought her to the vet to have her anal glands checked and it was not the issue. She also has congestive heart failure, but that doesn't seem to impact her presently.

She voids in the litter box. No mobility issues or orthopedic concerns.

Anyone else have this concern?

My thoughts: I'm sorry to hear that your cat is not doing well. I could be wrong, of course, but I wouldn't rule out his congestive heart failure throwing him off his game a little and off the box a lot.

Cats are experts at hiding discomfort. It's a survival mechanism left over from their wild days. An animal that shows weakness in the wild risks attacks and having their food stolen from stronger animals.

Despite all other appearances and medical reports, he still may not feel 100 percent, and that could be a factor here. It could be the only factor.

Another thing that often throws cats off the box is urinary tract problems. As odd as it may sound, it's common for a cat with a urinary problem to poop outside the box. The same holds true for kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and other medical conditions.

The next thing I'd look at would be hairballs and/or constipation causing problems.

there a lot of fur in the stool? If so, that could be an issue.

Is the stool dry and/or pebble-like? If so, she's constipated, and that could be the problem. Hairballs and constipation often go together.

If your vet approves, there are some hairball remedies you can buy that will lubricate the pipes, or you can try a home remedy or two, such as non-spiced canned pumpkin or vegetable oil.

Increasing the number of grooming sessions you have with her wouldn't be a bad idea.

I'm not sure how much you've observed her behavior, but I had a long haired cat named Frankie who had problems with her fur causing her to leave stool on the floor, sometimes far from the box.

She would start doing her "business" inside the box, but things didn't always come out quite right. As she would run at high speed away from the box, she'd drop her "cling ons" on the floor, sometimes far from the box.

Another thing I'd always consider is box and litter conditions, although that more often leads to total lack of use of the box, so I think it's less likely in this case. Still, it never hurts to add a box to see what happens.

In addition, consider what may have changed in her life or anything that might be stressing her out.

I hope that helps, and please let us know how things go.

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Jul 07, 2017
Heart failure
by: Kurt (Admin)

Hi Trina,

To rephrase your question... if a cat is pooping right outside the litter box, could this indicate heart failure?

Your vet would be the best person to ask this question of, but the short answer is... although you probably won't find it on any official heart failure symptoms list, refusal to use the litter box can be a sign of disease.

This doesn't just apply to cats that poop in front of or near the box, but any change in litter box habits. In fact, any change in behavior at all is suspect.

Heart failure, by the way, is a term that is often used in different ways, but that's a conversation for another time.

The longer answer...

What I often hear from readers is that when their cat has an illness, it can throw them off their game.

In that respect, one of the indications of disease (any disease) is often a change in behavior. One of the most obvious changes in behavior is a change in litter box habits.

This is why I always suggest that anyone whose cat has stopped using the litter box see a vet.

That being said, we still have the question... what about cats that poop very close to the box?

What we sometimes see are cats that are not happy with the litter, the litter box, the placement of the box, the cleanliness of the box, and so on, will poop nearby.

Adding another litter box, replacing the existing box, reverting to using a previous brand of litter, switching from covered to uncovered, and so on are all valid tests to see what works to fix this.

We also see this, however, when a cat has had some sort of bad experience with the litter box. For example, if a cat experiences pain during defecation (e.g. due to constipation), he may associate the litter box with pain. Since the box reminds him of pain, he poops near the box instead of inside it.

Cats that have injuries or arthritis may also do this, as it can be painful to get up in the box, or it may be painful to squat once inside the box.

I hope that helps. There are a couple hundred questions and answers on litter box problems on this site, and they pretty much cover most situations.

Jul 07, 2017
Litter trouble
by: Trina

My boy gizzimo poops right outside his littler tray it is driving us mad I have just been reading and someone said it could be heart failure is this correct??

May 27, 2017
Poop outside the box
by: Lora W.

I recently read about the litter box problem with your Ragdoll.
I also think it may be a constipation problem. Long haired cats do have a propensity for kind of being 'backed up' sometimes.
Kurt mentioned using pumpkin or vegetable oil.
I thought I would pass along an idea somewhat similar to that.
Our kitty, Mr. Franklin, got into the habit of wanting Crisco ! In his later years, he would bum a taste of bacon drippings. My brother discovered this when cooking. Then Mr Franklin graduated to Crisco. Just a small dab on the tip of your finger or on the end of a butter knife was just enough.
He knew on some instinctive level that this helped with the constipation he had in later years.
For the most part, it did work. Occasionally, he would do the litter box, then as he gingerly walked away, some 'dingles' would fall out.
If you try this, remember just a dab at first. Your kitty will let you know if that is enough or not. You may not have to do this everyday, but again, your kitty will let you know.
I really hope this helps. It did help our beloved Mr. Franklin have a better day, everyday.

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