Cat Pooping Outside of the Litterbox: 6 Tips to Stop It

Cat Pooping Outside of the Litterbox: 6 Tips to Stop It

Cats are beautiful pets to have around. These beautiful creatures have a unique personality that is far different compared to other pets.

With their unique personality comes unique behavior. Some unique feline behavior includes pooping outside of the litterbox. In some studies, research reports that 10% of the cat population poops outside of the litterbox.

Cats often poop outside of the litterbox due to health reasons or reasons related to stress and behavior. Some options to change this behavior include seeing a veterinarian to rule out a medical issue, cleaning the litterbox and its area, purchasing a new litterbox or changing the type of litter used, changing the location of the litterbox, and even using obstacles to block certain locations where the cat may poop on the floor.

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Why is My Cat Pooping Outside of the Litterbox?

A Medical Condition

Contacting your veterinarian is the first thing you should do when you notice that your cat is pooping outside the litterbox because your cat may have a medical condition or health problem. Constipation and diarrhea are common causes for cats to poop outside the litterbox – they may find it challenging to make it to the litterbox in time, or they start in the box, and the poop ends up falling as they wander away.

Sometimes, these two issues could be temporary or linked to an underlying medical condition. Diarrhea is a symptom of several diseases, including kidney and inflammatory bowel disease.

Other medical conditions for a cat pooping outside of its litterbox could include arthritis. If an old cat is displaying this behavior, it may be because they have arthritis and find it difficult to get to the side of the box.

Behavioral Issues and Stress

Another common cause for cats to poop outside the litterbox is stress. Common causes of stress that may cause your cat to poop outside of the litterbox include:

  • Moving to a new home – a change in a cat’s environment, such as a new living space, can cause stress and lead to this behavior.
  • A wrong litterbox location –  placing the litterbox in the wrong location can cause the cat to feel stressed and vulnerable.
  • A dirty litterbox – if the cleanliness of the litterbox is not up to your cat’s standard, they will opt to poop outside of it.
  • A small litterbox – a litterbox too small for the cat to move freely and feel secure may cause the cat to do their business elsewhere.
  • A new cat – if you add an additional cat to the family, the old cat may “mark its territory” by pooping outside of the litterbox. Furthermore, introducing cats to each other may cause additional stress that could cause this behavior.

Six Tips to Stop your Cat from Pooping Outside the Litterbox

Now that you know the different and common causes for cats to poop outside the litterbox, you can try these eight tips below to stop it. If, however, the reason is linked to a medical condition, then you should schedule a veterinary visit as soon as possible to rule out anything serious.

1. Clean the Litterbox

One of the most common reasons why cats poop outside the litterbox is because it’s dirty, undesirable, and uncomfortable for them. It is advisable to scoop the litter daily and replace it weekly.

Additionally, it would help if you also did a deep clean monthly – clearing out the litterbox, cleaning it with warm water and mild dish soap, and putting in a new supply of unscented litter. Whenever you do a deep clean of your cat’s litterbox, be sure to protect yourself by using a face mask and rubber gloves.

2. Purchase a New Litterbox

If you decide to get a new cat, it is advisable to buy a new litterbox instead of making your two cats share one. This is because what works for one cat may not work for the other one. Litterboxes come in different shapes and sizes, so you should  buy one that is large enough to allow for easy movement.

Also, you should always have an extra litterbox minus the one your cat is using at the time. This means that if you have one cat, you should have two litterboxes; if you have two cats, you should have three. These litterboxes must be placed in different locations throughout the house. This will give the cat other options to do their business if they feel that their main option is in a stressful location.

3. Clean the Area

Another good tip to stop your cat from pooping outside the litterbox is to clean the area where they usually do their business with an enzymatic cleaner. Enzymatic cleaners are filled with enzymes that help to break down soils. When your cat catches the scent of the area (after it has been cleaned thoroughly), they should know that that is the wrong place to do their business and avoid the area.

4. Change the Location of the Litterbox

Cats are sensitive pets, and they tend to stay away from stressful areas and situations. The slightest sounds are enough to stress your cat; they could end up doing their business elsewhere if it means staying away from the sound.

The best thing to do is to keep the litterbox in a private, quiet area that is easy to access. You can try keeping it away from the food and water bowl, in a stress-free place where your cat would have a little privacy.

5. Place Obstacles

If your cat has chosen a place other than the litterbox to poop, then you should consider placing obstacles to make that area undesirable for that cat. You can choose to block off the access to that particular area using a baby gate. If that does not work, consider spraying the area with a cat-safe deterrent.

6. Change the Litter

Your cat may have a problem with the litter, not the litterbox itself, so changing the cat litter may be a solution. It is always advisable to use unscented litter as most cats prefer that because the scented litter can be unappealing. Do not change the litter you use frequently; if you know the litter your cat likes, it is best to stick to it.


When you notice that your cat is no longer pooping in the litterbox and is now doing their business elsewhere, it would be a good idea to see your veterinarian to rule out any medical or health conditions.

Once a medical condition has been ruled out, you can try our tips to get your cat to use their litterbox again. If you have a question regarding your cat pooping outside of their litterbox, Embassy Lakes Animal Hospital in Cooper City, FL can be reach at (954) 432-5811!

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About Embassy Lakes Animal Hospital

Located in Cooper City, FL, we strive to do more than simply be a full-service veterinarian for your pet. Our decades of experience has served generations of families and their beloved pets and we look forward to serving you as well!