Rescue cat poops in front of litter tray
My rescue centre warned me that Ron always pooped on the floor at the window of his pod and so may not use the litter tray when I got him home. He does wee in the tray.
Sure enough, when we got him home, Ron spent a long time scraping at my hardwood floor next to the litter tray and then pooped on the floor next to his tray. This was followed up by scratching the floor again as if there was 'ghost cat litter'!
He is very nervy - I am pretty sure it is stress related. He had access to the outside at the rescue centre but he never chose to go out - basically he spent 2 months confined to his small pod (room for a bed, bowl and litter tray).
He was rescued from a home with multiple cats - neglected. I wonder whether the cats just pooped wherever they wanted and that is what he is used to?
Any ideas as to how to go about retraining him? I am interested in whether Feliway works and would like to know how to administer Rescue remedy.
Any help gratefully received!
Thank you for adopting him, especially since you knew beforehand he might have a problem.
Scraping the floor is a fairly common behavior, and a number of my cats have done this over the years. Jazzy does it to his food, presumably to try to save it for later.
When a cat poops near the litter box, as opposed to say, another part of the house, this can sometimes be an indication that there is something about the box that does not seem right to the cat.
At this point, he may be doing it out of habit, and it's just a matter of breaking that habit, but you'll need to think hard about how to make the box better for him.
Another possibility for cats defecating near the box is a gastrointestinal disorder, such as an infection or parasite infestation, or a holdover from pain experienced during straining due to constipation.
Are his stools loose or exceptionally hard? This can be another indication he
may have a storm brewing inside him.
I've seen this problem due to nothing more than a really bad hairball. Hairballs can be very serious and require surgery in some cases, and I mention this because I run into people all the time who don't realize just how much a hairball can affect a cat.
We know that some cats like to poop in one box and pee in another, so adding a box is never a bad idea. Other cats are so picky, they won't use a box unless it is cleaned after each use.
Keep in mind that cats can develop surface preferences. He may prefer a hard, flat surface to defecate on. This is said to be somewhat common in longer-haired kitties, but could happen with any cat. In some cases, the cat will move all the litter to one side of the box, poop on the flat floor of the box, and then cover up when done.
One solution with a cat like that is to provide a box just for defecation, with less litter than normal, mostly pushed to one side of the box.
If his problem is strictly stress and nothing medical, the first thing I'd do is increase mental and physical stimulation with toys, cat trees (tall ones), hiding places, more affection and attention, and scheduled playtime to burn off any anxiety or excess nervous energy.
You can get a Feliway diffuser
or two and place them where he frequents. I've had mixed reports of success with Feliway from readers for cats with anxiety or stress related behavior problems.
If he responds to catnip, I would get some and give it to him a couple of times a day, and You can add a couple of drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy to his water daily. Jackson Galaxy also has some herbal products you could try.
With proper nurturing and the combination of some of these things, it could be just a matter of time before he decompresses enough. It can take a cat up to six months to get fully used to a new environment.
I hope that helps. Please let us know how things turn out.