6 Explanations For Why Cats Poop Outside the Litter Box

Stressing over why your cat poops outside the litter box? Every cat owner across the country has asked themselves the same exact question at some point. If your cat is suddenly relieving itself in an inappropriate spot, you’re in luck as the most common reasons are usually easy to find and remedy. Read on for some helpful advice from The Refined Feline if you are struggling in maintaining your kitty’s appropriate litter box habits.

1. The litter box is too dirty to your cat’s liking

The most common reason your cat is pooping outside of their litter box is due to its cleanliness (or potential lack thereof). Cats are clean creatures by nature, so even if you think you’re keeping the box clean enough, it may not be up to snuff for them. Not scooping often enough could be the issue, so scoop the box at least once a day and see if that helps. You should also be dumping out the litter box every week or two, and replacing it with fresh litter. If the scooping is hard to keep up on, there are many automatic and self-cleaning litter boxes available to help do the heavy lifting.

2. The litter box isn’t full enough

Most cats want boxes with at least a few inches of litter covering the bottom, maybe even more. Cats like to dig a lot before using the box, and having more litter allows them this luxury. But if the litter is too shallow and there’s too much waste, they may not want to use it anymore. Try adding more litter on a regular basis to see if that helps with their preferences. Having more litter in the box will decrease how much sticks to the sides and bottom, making scooping easier on you too.

3. They do not like the style of litter in the box

More often than not, cats will avoid a litter box if it has a type of litter they don’t prefer. If you recently changed the type of litter, this could have been the reason they stopped using the box. Try going back to the original kind and see if that helps with their preferences; you may have to continue using the original type. Cats will gravitate toward either clumping or non-clumping litters, so you may need to try one over the other to find what your cat prefers.

There’s more than just clay litter too, which may or may not play a factor in your cat’s litter box habits. Litter can be made of the usual clay, but also silica gel, nuts, corn, paper pellets, pine, and many more! Your cat may love the silica gel litter, but not like the paper pellets, or vice versa. The textures will definitely feel different to your cat, and can sway them to use one over the other.

You may also have to consider scented versus unscented litter. For humans, we usually buy the highest scented litter as possible to help with odor. For cats, though, these litters can be too strong for their highly sensitive noses. Cats have a super powerful sense of smell than we do, and they end up being closer to the litter than we are. This means that highly perfumed litters could be too strong for your cat, and they won’t want to use it. You can try a few unscented litters to see if your cat responds to that better, and begins using the box more. You can also try mixing the scented litter with a little of the unscented to bring the smell down for your cat to use the box.

4. The location of the litter box is not ideal

The litter box may not be as convenient for your cat to reach as you may think, which could cause them to poop outside of it. Just like us humans, cats want their litter box in a quiet spot where they can be comfortable, relaxed, and take their time. If the box is in a busy, crowded or exposed area of your home, your cat may be too scared or apprehensive to use it. If that is the case, try moving the litter box to a more discreet spot and see if that improves their bathroom habits. You can also place the box inside of a litter box enclosure for added privacy no matter where it’s located.

5. The cat is afraid of the litter box itself

Although this is a rare occurrence, cats can be afraid of their litter box. This can occur if the cat had a bad experience while using the box. A few things, such as an automatic litter box that makes a lot of noise or another cat bullying them during use, could make them scared enough to avoid the box. If you think that may have happened with your cat (or something similar), add another litter box to a quiet, secluded location. This can help your cat feel more secure and confident while going. Utilizing a covered litter box may help as well, as some cats feel more relaxed with a cover.

6. There is an underlying medical condition

An underlying medical condition may be causing the problem if you’ve tried a few of the above items but have seen no improvements. It’s best to take your cat to the vet on a yearly basis to rule out any potential health issues. Cats are good at hiding any sickness or discomfort they may be experiencing, and a checkup will help maintain their overall health. Your veterinarian can also suggest some additional steps to take, which may be a medication if your cat is experiencing stressors.

Why Cats Poop Outside The Litter Box

These are the most common reasons why cats may poop outside of the litter box. Trying one or more of these tips may help keep control of your cat’s bathroom habits. Also, remember to consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s health.