Reasons Cat Poops Outside The Litter Box

Cats are and should be trained to use the litter box when they are just kittens, as they will then live by this habit throughout their lives. However, some cats have trouble getting used to the litter box. Sometimes a trained cat stops using the litter box. There could be many reasons for this behavioral change. In this article, we are going to address the 8 reasons why your cat poops outside the litter box.



4 min read

1. Change in environment

Cats are habitual and particular animals. They like order and things done in a specific way. In simple terms, cats are just not fond of change. If you’ve made any changes in your living environment, such as moving the furniture, building a new wall, getting a roommate/moving in with a partner, changing the bedroom arrangement, or changing the location of the litter box, then your cat is probably bothered by it.

Any big changes in living conditions can have an effect on your cat’s mood and behavior. If the change is inevitable, then the best way to help your cat get used to it is with gradual exposure.

For example, if you need to change the carpeting of your floor, then designate a quiet and safe room for your cat which doesn't require the change. Move the litter box in that room. This way, your cat will not have to live in a completely new environment right away. Your cat will always have a safe space to retreat to, whenever they feel uncomfortable.

2. Marking territory

Another reason cats poop outside the litter box is to mark their territory. Cats are extremely territorial and don’t like sharing their space with new people and animals. If you have brought in a new cat, dog, a new baby, or a new partner in your home, then your cat might be pooping outside to mark its territory with the smell of its feces.

 This behavior is natural to animals as they've been doing it for generations while living in the wild. So, don't be surprised when your domesticated cat starts doing it to mark its space. You can deal with this problem by giving your cat some time to get familiar with the new person/pet.  

If no such change has happened in your life, then your cat might have seen a cat or another animal trespassing in your home. This could be the reason why they've suddenly started making territory. To deal with this, make sure your house/apartment is properly locked and secured. Consider using sonic deterrents, animal repellents, or floodlights to keep outdoor animals away.

3. Fear and anxiety

One possible reason why your cat poops outside the litter box is that it’s scared of something. When cats feel scared and anxious, they often act out and show behavioral change. If there’s a new person in the house, then your cat could be scared of making it to the litter box to poop. Cats are also scared of certain sounds and smells.

If you are not sure what your cat might be afraid of, consider moving the litter box to a more secure and quieter place. Make sure the new location is more private and secluded so your cat can feel safe again.   

4. Your cat doesn’t like the new litter

As we mentioned earlier, cats are particular creatures. If you have recently changed your cat’s litter in the box, then maybe your cat doesn't like it. A sudden change in the litter situation can be the reason why your cat wouldn't poop inside the litter box. Cats often dislike litter due to its scent, texture, quantity, or quality.

When you need to change the litter, make sure you get the litter of the same brand. Your cat can even be upset by the change of one clay litter to another. Cats are super smart and sensitive, and they can sense the change in texture or scent right away.  

5. Your cat doesn't like the litter box

Sometimes an incident can cause your cat to fear or dislike their litter box. Maybe something fell on the litter box and caught your cat off guard. Or maybe there’s a noise in the litter box area that scares the cat. Cats also have different preferences when it comes to litter boxes, especially in terms of shape and size.

Maybe the litter box is too small, too big, too short, too tall, or too deep for your cat’s preference. If your cat is used to a certain type of litter box, it’s best to not change it and only replace it with a similar one.

6. Not enough litter boxes for the number of cats

If you have more than one cat, then a single litter box will not work. You must have at least one extra litter box at hand while all the cats have their own boxes. So, if you have two cats, you must have 3 litter boxes. Make sure you place the litter boxes in different locations and at a considerable distance from each other.

7. Dirty litter box

Cats are very proper, and they want you to clean their litter boxes regularly. If you don't keep it clean, your cat will not use the litter box. Make sure that you clean the litter box properly and regularly so that your cat feels comfortable using it.

8. Medical issues

In some cases, medical issues cause the cats to urinate everywhere. If your cat has intestinal tumors, liver issues, thyroid issues, constipation, bowel syndrome, or musculoskeletal injuries, then it might have trouble getting to the box comfortable or in time.

Age is another reason why your cat might not use the loiter box. Young kittens and old cats have a hard time reaching litter boxes.

Final Words

Your cat may not be pooping inside the litter box because of the reason we mentioned above. Observe your cat closely and try to identify the cause. Once you know the problem, it will be easier for you to deal with the issue. Make sure you visit your vet in case of medical issues.