My kitten is pooping and peeing right next to the litter box

by Analisa
(San Diego, CA)

Diego is the white one.

Diego is the white one.

I am fairly meticulous about keeping the litter box clean for my three cats, Sam, Bells and Diego. However this morning I came out of my room to notice that Diego had pooped right out side the litter box and this evening I saw him pee right outside the box.

I don't get it. He is 11 weeks and I have had him for about a month. He and the other cats get along fine they groom him and he plays with them but this is strange since he wasn't doing this before. I was very upset which I now know he doesn't really understand so now I have no idea how to get him to stop.

If stress is the problem I have no idea what it could possibly be. I created another litter box because I thought maybe that was the problem. I don't want to stress him but now I'm stressed because how am I going to get the smell of cat pee out of my carpet without bleaching it?

He is very sweet but this behavior is not okay. I don't want Sam and Bells to start doing it too.

My Thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that Diego is having problems, Analisa, so let's see if we can give you some ideas. That's a very cute picture!

My first thought is that he might not be feeling good and he needs a vet consultation. I don't know his history, but kittens may often have parasites or infections, even if they come from reputable shelters and, unfortunately, sometimes from breeders.

I'm assuming that he's been to the vet recently, but maybe something was missed. Normally, a kitten would be returning to the vet for various vaccinations as some of them are usually given every few weeks around this time.

If he came from a shelter, he would usually be on worming meds too, and these have to be repeated in order to be effective. If he's got worms, your other cats may get them too.

I'm not sure how you did your introductions, but typically you want an isolation period and a slow introduction of the kitten to the resident cats. When cats are introduced too quickly, behavioral problems may develop in any of the cats, sometimes months later.

During the isolation period, the new cat can get used to the new environment, and you can make sure that litter box habits are 100 percent solid. If at any time there are problems, you can revert to isolation. So, you might want to try using isolation/confinement retraining on Diego to see if he gets back on track.

Remember that it can take a cat six months or more to get fully used to a new home, and this can be complicated by the presence of other cats or pets. Kittens tend to adapt more quickly than adult cats, but not always.

Kittens have a different problem. Being young, he's the low man on the totem
pole. He's going through a lot of changes and he has a lot of growing to do, and there can be bumps in the road.

Another concern is litter box guarding and/or sharing. Cats tend to time share their territory, and even cats that get along can develop box contention behaviors.

I've had three cats in the house at the same time myself. While they clearly got along great, there have been times when they would fight at the litter box.

"Litter box ambushes" are common in multi-cat households, and it doesn't have to be a physical attack. A stare down might be enough to make the weaker cat, in this case a kitten, too shy to use the box the next time.

It's important that the boxes be placed in an area with multiple escape routes and set up so that it's difficult for another cat (or human) to sneak up on the one using the box.

For an eleven week old kitten, I would normally have a kitten-sized litter box just for him. I would also follow the "one plus one rule." That means that you should have four litter boxes for three cats. While it's possible that you can get away with fewer than that, it's better to start out with too many than too few.

I would thoroughly clean out the litter boxes and scrub them squeaky clean, and replace all the litter with the exact brand and type of litter that was working before.

After you clean up the soiled area, you might try placing a second litter box right on the spot that he used.

Is the litter box hooded? He may have decided he doesn't like the box covered. Try offering an uncovered box right next to the covered one.

Some cats like one litter box to pee in and one to poop in. Other cats don't like to use a box that has recently been used, even if they were the one to last use it. These preferences can develop at any time and can change.

Never get mad at him or show any anger or frustration over his not using the box. Just clean it up quietly. Always praise him when he does use the box.

You don't have to bleach your carpet to get the smell out. There are a number of pet safe/carpet safe cleaners that will work on most pet odors.

You might try Feliway to help reduce stress and Cat Attract litter to encourage use of the litter box. Neither one of these products is guaranteed to work, but they may help.

Make sure that each cat has their own "space" where they can be safe by themselves, and make sure that you make good use of vertical space in the house.

Being able to climb is important to most cats, and scratching posts are essential too for relieving stress.

I hope that helps to give you some ideas. Please keep us informed of his progress.


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May 16, 2011
Thank you!
by: Kurt (Admin)

Thank you David and Diane for your comments. David, I'll have to start making my suggestions shorter. :) And yes, many cats do not like the feel of many of the litter box carpets on their paws, so they jump over them.

And Diane thank you for the recommendation on SCOE 10X for odor/stain removal. I just want to point out for those who may not realize it that one of the challenges with cat urine odor is that it's often difficult to get to all of the urine.

The visible area on the surface of the carpet might be three inches wide, but underneath that the pad and the bottom of the carpet may be soaked in an area twice that wide or more as gravity and wicking action do their thing.

Even if you soak up most of the urine on the surface first, you usually can't reach what's underneath with a cleaner by just spraying it on and wiping the top of the carpet.

You often have to soak the carpet with the cleaner so that it spreads underneath to the pad, in addition to using scrubbing action. Then you have to pat it dry as much as possible.

If you don't soak it with the odor remover, the odor will return and the cat may be tempted to use that area as a toilet again. Unfortunately, this means that you'll typically use far more odor/stain remover product than you planned.

That's why David's suggestion of laying the plastic under the litter box can save you a lot of money, at least if you have "near box" accidents.

May 15, 2011
by: David

Since Kurt already posted most of what I would say (again! < G > ) I will throw out another wildcard.

At one time we had eight cats at once. A lot of litter, boxes, "accidents" and sandy carpet. Most "litterbox pads" were avoided - even jumped over - when they'd leave the box. What we did was go to an office supply store and buy several of those hard-plastic mats that are used under chairs to make them easier to roll on. These have worked wonders for many problems. Most of the litter tracked out lands on the solid surface and is much easier to sweep up than vacuum. Anything that "missed" the box was much easier to clean up without messing up the carpet.

Just something for everyone to consider getting - they are very inexpensive, just sometimes hard to maneuver into place. And you'll always have a reminder that it is time to shampoo all the carpets when you peek under them and see what color the carpet is supposed to be < G >.

Thank you for giving your babies a loving home!

May 15, 2011
by: Diane

I have 11 cats and had never had potty problems till my youngest that just turned 1. She wets everywhere. We have tried about everything but I highly recommend SCOE 10X. She has stopped using the spots we treated with this. Just got a couple to go, and you won't be able to smell anything. Look them up.

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