6 Reasons Behind Why Cats Poop Outside Their Litter Box

litter box

Wondering what reasoning lies behind your cat not using their litter box? Many cat owners ask themselves this burning question at some point. If your cat is suddenly relieving itself in an inappropriate spot, the most common reasons are luckily easy to identify and remedy. If you are struggling to deter your kitty’s inappropriate bathroom habits, read on for some helpful advice from The Refined Feline.

  1. The litter box is not clean enough for your cat

The most commonly seen reason for your cat pooping outside of their litter box is simply because it is not clean enough for them. Cats are naturally very clean creatures, so even a box that’s not scooped often enough could cause them to not use it. Try scooping the box at least once a day and see if that alleviates the situation. You should also be dumping out all the litter every week or so, and replacing it with new. There are many automatic and self-cleaning litter boxes available if you need assistance keeping up with the scooping.

  1. The litter box doesn’t have enough litter

Most cats want a box with at least a couple of inches of litter covering the bottom, and potentially even more. As you’ve probably already noticed, cats like to do a lot of digging before they use the box. So, if the litter is too shallow inside, they may not like the depth and just not use it. Try adding more litter to the box on a daily or weekly basis to see if that alleviates the situation. More litter in the box can make scooping easier too, as the litter won’t stick to the bottom of the box as often.

  1. The cat does not like the type of litter in the box

Another typical reason cats will stop using the litter box revolves around what type of litter is being used. If you have recently switched brands or types of litter, try going back to the original kind and see if that alleviates the situation. Cats will typically prefer either clumping or non-clumping litters, which means you may have to experiment with a few to find one your cat prefers.

Gone are the days of only clay litter; there are many more varieties on the market today. Litter is still available in clay, but there’s also silica gel, corn, nuts, paper pellets, pine, and more! Your cat may love the more natural nut litter, but not like the silica gel, or vice versa. The textures are vastly different so your cat may love one and really dislike another, enough to not use their box.

Another factor to consider is unscented versus scented litter. For humans, we tend to select the highest scented litter as we don’t want to deal with the odors. For cats, though, some of these highly scented litters may be too powerful for their sense of smell. Cats have a tremendous sense of smell, even better than dogs!  Many of these litters could be too perfumed for your cat, and they will refuse to use the box. It’s worth trying a few unscented litters to see if your cat favors those more, and uses the box. You can try mixing some unscented litter with the scented litter to bring the smell down enough for your cat to use the box.

  1. The cat doesn’t like where the litter box is

A cat can quickly stop using the litter box if it is not convenient for your cat to reach. Cats want to be comfortable, relaxed, and take their time when using the facilities. If the box is in a noisy or busy area of your home, it may be too scary for your cat to use it when they need it. Try placing the box in a more discreet spot and see if that alleviates the situation. You can also try putting the box inside of a litter box cabinet for added privacy.

  1. The cat is afraid of the actual litter box 

Cats can be afraid of their own litter box, although this is pretty rare. It can occur if the cat had a bad experience in the box and thinks it will happen every time they use it. A few factors that could cause this fear include automatic litter boxes that make too much noise or if another cat bullied them during use. If you think your cat experienced this or something else, try adding another litter box to a small, quiet room. This can allow your cat added security and peace of mind while going. You may want to try a covered litter box as some cats feel more secure with a cover over their heads.

  1. There is a latent medical condition

If there’s been no improvement from using one or more of the above strategies, an underlying medical condition may be causing the problem. It’s always a good idea to take your cat to the vet at least yearly to rule out any potential health problems. Cats are too good at masking sickness, discomfort, or pain, so a checkup will be good to maintain their overall health. Your veterinarian can also suggest some medications if it’s stress-related and you haven’t seen any improvements from the strategies above.

Why Cats Poop Outside the Litter Box

These reasons are the most commonly seen in cats pooping outside of their litter box. By trying one or more of these tips, you may start seeing a difference if you are having trouble with your cat’s bathroom habits. Plus, don’t forget to keep your veterinarian in the loop if you are having any concerns about your cat’s health.