Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box? 

That’s an excellent question since inappropriate elimination is one of the most common problems cat owners encounter.

Fortunately, I’m here to talk about why your cat is avoiding its toilet and how to get a cat to stop pooping outside the toilet box! 

Just keep reading.

READ MORE: Best Litter for Cats With Chronic Diarrhea

9 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Pooping Outside the Litter Box

a woman covering her nose and wondering why is my cat pooping outside the litter box

It’s never pleasant when you come home, and the unpleasant smell of cat poop assaults your nose, or you step on it while walking through the doorway.

While it’s normal for your cat to have an accident from time to time, inappropriate elimination is something you should address as soon as possible.

Once cats develop a surface preference, they will continue to use the same spot even when you resolve the initial issue. (1)

So, why do cats poop outside the litter box? Usually, cats find alternative bathroom spots when their toilet is too dirty. But inappropriate elimination can also be related to a medical issue.

Here’s a slight explanation of why this happens

@dr.hunterfinn #answer to @caitlinritter87 make sure with your vet its not a medical reason and thrn we can start weeding out the behavioral ones #cat #cats #catsoftiktok ♬ original sound – Hunter Finn

To help you figure out if you should panic about your cat pooping outside the litter box, let’s discuss the reasons in detail. 

#1 Dirty Litter Box

Cats are clean animals, and they have strict expectations about their toilet box and how often you should clean it. 

As specialists from PetMD explain, “The cleaner the cat litter in the box is, the less likely your cat is to get fed up with putting her feet in it and going on the nice, clean floor.” (2)

So, since cats hate the smell of dirty litter boxes, not scoping the box often is the most common reason for cats popping outside the litter box.

#2 Health Issues

Cats can’t speak to tell you when they’re in pain or have trouble going to the bathroom. So, a cat peeing outside the litter box is asking for help. 

The same is true for a cat pooping outside the toilet box, especially if you notice loose stools, blood, or intestinal parasites.

As Jackson Galaxy explains in this video, cats connect the toilet box with pain, so they find another place to do their business. 

#3 The Toilet Box Is Too Small

Experts from the American Animal Hospital Association say, “Litter boxes should be at least one and a half times the length of the cat from nose to tip of the tail.” (3)

That’s because cats avoid the toilet box when it’s too small because they don’t have enough space to turn and bury the waste.

Some cats also don’t like when the toilet box is too large because they feel vulnerable, especially if you have other pets in the house and they don’t get along.

RECOMMENDED: Cat Peeing Outside Litter Box

#4 Wrong Type of Litter or Depth 

cats testing the cat litters depth

Why does a cat poop outside the litter box? Besides size and cleanliness, some cats poop outside the box because they don’t like the litter texture or its scent.

And you may not have poured enough fresh litter to satisfy your cat’s digging preferences. You need three inches of litter for a single cat. 

#5 Wrong Litter Box Location

The litter tray location is essential, especially in multi-cat households. So, if your cat is pooping outside the box, think about where the toilet box is. 

The best place is a low-traffic area, away from your cat’s food and water bowls. In a multi-pet household, the litter boxes should be spread throughout the house to ensure one cat can’t mark all the boxes. 

#6 Not Enough Toilet Boxes

Speaking of multi-cat households, do you have enough litter boxes for your feline companions? After all, cats won’t wait in a queue when nature calls. 

The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat plus one extra. In other words, if you have six cats, you should have at least seven toilet boxes around the house. 

Learn more about how many cat toilets you need in this video.

#7 Wrong Type of Litter Box

Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box? Well, think about what type of toilet box you’re using.

While automatic cat toilet boxes, such as Littermaid litter boxes or Litter-Robot, are great for keeping smells contained and reducing the mess, not all felines like them.

And if the cat is scared of going inside the toilet box, they’ll start pooping on the floor next to it or find another suitable location.  

#8 Age

old cat lying around

Senior cats with mobility issues can’t climb inside a high-side toilet box or make it to the litter box on time if it’s far too away. 

And some senior cats have memory problems, so they forget where the toilet is. 

#9 Stress

Why did my cat stop using the litter box?

Besides illness, many cats start pooping outside the toilet box because they’re under stress. It can be a change in the routine, a new cat in the house, or another underlying issue. 

Should I Be Concerned If My Cat Poops Outside the Litter Box? 

old person thinking deeply

I won’t be concerned if my cat poops outside the box once in a blue moon. But I will be worried if it’s a frequent event. 

Cats are creatures of habit, so when they start avoiding their usual toilet, it’s a cry for help or an early sign of a disease. 

And it’s a struggle to scrub cat poop from the carpet/floor and clean it well enough not to trigger the cat’s sense of smell.

More importantly, if you don’t deal with these litter box issues, your pet is going to develop a surface preference, and it will be twice as hard to reteach them to use the cat toilet box. 

I once had a cat that would only pee in slippers, so I know what I’m talking about. 

How Can I Get My Cat to Stop Pooping on the Floor? 

So, your cat is pooping on the floor, and you’re fed up with scrubbing after your feline companion. Fortunately, you can get your cat to stop pooing outside the toilet box with these 7 simple tips. 

#1 Rule out a Disease 

You should discuss any sudden changes in your cat litter box habits with your vet.

Constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid issues, kidney disease, or urinary tract infections can cause your cat pain when going to the bathroom. 

And as long as the cat connects the toilet box with pain, they will avoid it at all costs! 

#2 Add Additional Litter Box 

cat sitting on one litter box

If you have multiple cats, you should add an extra litter box to ensure your cats have enough toilets available in multiple locations.

And some cats like to have one box for urination and one box for pooping, so even if you have a single cat, it’s worth trying this method to stop your kitty from pooping on the carpet. 

#3 Change the Type of Litter Used 

While many owners opt for scented litter to cover the smell of the toilet, some felines hate the fragrance because it’s too potent for their sensitive noses. 

Switch to unscented litter or experiment with different types of litter until you find a brand that your cat likes to promote good litter box habits. 

#4 Change the Location

a cat going out of a litter box

If your cat poops in one specific location, move the toilet box there.

Or as Paula Garber, a cat behaviorist, suggests, “Place the box someplace that the cat can easily get to, preferably a low-traffic area away from food and water bowls.” (4)

#5 Get a Larger Litter Box

Consider your cat’s size and determine if you have the right size toilet box. Keep in mind that some cats feel better in confined spaces while others feel trapped.

Providing several toilet boxes of different sizes can also solve the issue. 

#6 Switch Litter Box Types

a person shopping online

If you’re having trouble keeping your cat toilet box clean, consider switching to an automatic, self-cleaning toilet. It cleans the litter after each bathroom visit, so your feline friend has fresh litter all the time. 

Don’t forget to check our self cleaning litter box reviews

#7 Try Medication 

If your cat is stressed, you can try some anti-anxiety medication to reduce stress and make your cat safe enough to use its box. But you should discuss it with your vet. 

FAQs

Do Cats Poop Outside the Litter Box for Attention?

Avoiding the toilet box is not attention-seeking but it is a sign that your cat is trying to tell you something – either your kitty thinks that the toilet is too dirty or has an underlying medical condition. 

Do Cats Poop on the Floor Out of Spite? 

No, cats don’t poop on the floor out of spite, revenge, or jealousy. Something else is going on with your cat and it might require medical evaluation.

How to Punish a Cat for Pooping Outside the Litter Box?

a child thinking

Don’t punish your cat for pooping outside its toilet box. You will make your cat stressed or get them to associate the box with punishments. 

Conclusion

Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box? It can be as simple as a dirty toilet or something as serious as kidney disease.

As such, you shouldn’t ignore inappropriate elimination if it’s a regular occurrence and rule out an underlying medical condition as soon as possible.  

How to Prevent Your Cat From Pooping On the Floor

What do you think about these reasons why cats are pooping outside the litter box? Has your cat ever pooped outside of the box? Share your experience with us in the comment section. 

Resources: 

  1. Solving Litter Box Issues. https://www.blueridgehumane.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Solving-Litter-Box-Issues.pdf
  2. “Keeping Odor Away with a Clean Litter Box.” Www.petmd.com, www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_keeping_odor_away_with_a_clean_litter_box.
  3. “New Kitten Checklist.” Www.aaha.org, www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/new-kitten-checklist/. Accessed 14 May 2022.
  4. “Best (and Worst) Spots for Your Cat’s Litter Box.” Www.petmd.com, www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/best-and-worst-spots-your-cats-litter-box.    
Grigorina S
Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

Learn more about Grigorina here