Cats pooping in the fireplace

by Carol Orcutt
(Tucson, Arizona)

I have three rescued cats. Two, a male and a female of the same litter are four years old, and a male about eleven months old.

Recently I discovered 'someone's' been using the fireplace for a litter box. I have five litter boxes in different rooms of the house and faithfully clean them every other day.

Recently I smelled defecation, but couldn't find it. I had cleaned out the fireplace pretty well, but hadn't vacuumed it out, so there was some ash left.

Yesterday, my nose sent me to the fireplace. I then realized that it'd been "some" time that I'd been smelling the odor, because there was a lot in there!

My older cats have never done this before and I suspect that it's our "baby" that's guilty. I've vacuumed the fireplace now, but don't know what to use to scrub it out and discourage them from continuing the 'nasty' habit.

This morning, I found one lonely "present" and removed it of course, but want clear out the "attraction", so I'm asking for suggestions. They are strictly 'house' cats and never go outside.

The brother (all black) and sister (spotted black on white) are named Amos and Annie. The baby is mostly white and tinged with light brown (I think he's partly Siamese) and his name is Francis Albert (as in Sinatra) because he has the most beautiful blue eyes and is very lovable.

No, I've never met the
man, but I'm an old fan and love his music.

My thoughts: I'm sorry to hear your cat is having problems. It could be if there's no ash in the fireplace and it's been cleaned, he'll stop. I wonder, though, why he started using the fireplace instead of the litter box in the first place.

Was he being intimidated (box guarding)? Has he developed a preference to urinate in one place and defecate in another? Did he have some bowel problems and associate the litter box with a bad experience? These are things to ponder.

You have plenty of litter boxes, so I don't think adding one is going to change much, although you never know.

I think the quick thing to do is block access if you can, while you figure out what's really going on and get it cleaned up.

As for the cleaning, I would lean toward using whatever cleaner is appropriate for the materials your fireplace is made of. Certain materials need certain cleaners, and using the wrong cleaner could damage it.

To keep him from coming back long term, cats tend to dislike citrus smells, so some people use things like lemon to keep cats away. That may or may not work, and it may or may not be necessary in this case.

I hope that helps and please keep us updated on the progress of "young blue eyes."

P.S. Thank you for rescuing them!

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