Problem: Refuses to poop in the box!

by Lindsay
(Shelby Township, MI, USA)

My Cat is diabetic. We keep tabs on his blood sugar to make sure it is in normal range. But he refuses to go in his box!

Once in a great while he will, but it is a very rare occasion.

We have tried changing the litter, or giving him a bigger box, and even taking him to the vet to make sure everything is okay and nothing works!!

But will get in his box, pee, get out and 6 inches away he will poop! I don't get it. What can we do?

My thoughts: This is a tough one for sure. If there's no medical condition (other than his diabetes) that can be detected, then you have to assume it's behavioral, although it might have started with a short bout of constipation and he associated pain to the box. Of course, it could be something only your cat knows.

1. Have you tried setting up two boxes? He seems to be OK with the box and the litter (at least for urination), so perhaps getting a second identical box and trying it in strategic (cat friendly) locations might work.

Low traffic, low noise, etc. I say this because some cats have been known to refuse to urinate and defecate in the same box! This is considered by some to be a "feline sanitation" issue.

So, on the occasions that he does poop in the box, maybe it's only after the box has been cleaned, but prior to any urinating in there? If so, he doesn't like to poop after he's peed in there.

You might try placing the boxes just a few feet away from each other, and see what happens, then move locations, etc. When you move the box, make sure he's aware of what you're doing.

It may take a while to make this work, and you may end up having boxes in different rooms if that's what it takes. You can then inch the box each day towards wherever you want it. If you have a set-back, you'll have to start over.

If he prefers different litter for defecating, then part
of this experiment would be to try different litters in this second box and see what he likes.

2. To ferret out any sanitation issues, you might try cleaning the box several times a day, and replacing the litter very often (like once per day).

If he starts to use it more often, then that is your issue, and perhaps the two box method with regular cleaning is the solution.

3. Wild guess number 4,326 - How close is the current box to the food and/or water bowls? Cats don't like to go where they eat.

They also like to cover things up usually so that other predators don't know where they are or get into their food source. Maybe your cat thinks the litter does a bad job of covering his tracks when he goes number 2.

And, you always clean it up and get rid of the smell, don't you? So the floor does a better job of things than the box, from your cat's point of view.

4. Did this start after some change occurred (that you know of)? If so, and your cat underwent some sort of stress, then that might be it.

He may not exhibit any other signs of stress. Of course, there can be changes that we don't notice, but our cat does.

You can try using Feliway to see if that relieves his stress a bit. Feliway is synthetic cat cheek pheromones and is said to relieve stress in certain cats. It's often used to solve aggression problems in house mates, but it might work here as well.

5. If it's a hooded litter box, then try leaving the hood off. Some cats like to get in certain positions (often near the edge of the box), and sometimes the hood interferes with that.

If I couldn't lift my tail just right or get my butt where I wanted it, I'd probably use a different toilet myself!

I realize that solving this problem may be a lot of work. Sometimes, all we have are guesses and trial and error. Let us know how it goes and best of luck.

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