Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I’vve got an old cat who just sleeps all the time. Recently it started peeing and pooping everywhere on the first floor. It’s never done this before; it always used the litterbox on the second floor. What, if anything, can be done about this?
Siouxsie: Well, Cote, this is your lucky day: this is a pretty easy problem to solve.
Thomas: First, you should know that senior cats develop some special needs as they age. Like older humans, senior cats sleep more (as you’ve noticed). Their bodies go through changes, too; their vision and hearing starts to decline, many older cats develop arthritis, and some–such as your cat–have a hard time making it to the bathroom before they have to do their business.
Dahlia: This is particularly true for cats that sleep a lot. Sometimes they don’t wake up until they really have to go! Then they don’t have time to climb all those stairs to get to the litterbox on the second floor.
Siouxsie: The first thing you should try, therefore, is to put another litterbox downstairs near where your cat sleeps. That way, if she wakes up and she has to use the toilet right away, she has easy access to an appropriate place to do her business.
Thomas: Rest assured, your cat doesn’t want to pee and poop on the floor. Even old cats know their manners and have an instinct to do their toilet in a place where they can bury their waste.
Dahlia: Make sure that all your litterboxes have shallow sides so that your cat doesn’t have trouble getting in and out if her hips are bothering her. If the room where your kitty likes to sleep is carpeted, buy a plastic carpet runner cover and put that under the litterbox; that will contain most of the stray granules. Make sure to get a big enough runner cover to extend about two feet from each side your cat can use to get out of the box.
Siouxsie: Clean all the places where your cat has peed and pooped in the past with an enzymatic cleaner such as Anti-Icky-Poo or Nature’s Miracle, or a vinegar and water rinse. This will eliminate the urine and feces odors–even the ones you can’t smell–which will keep your cat from using those places as a toilet again. Nature’s Miracle is easier to find (many pet stores sell it), but readers have told us that Anti-Icky-Poo is more effective.
Thomas: You can find all those places by using a hand-held black light. You can purchase those from the websites above, or you can find them at pet stores. If you use the black light in a darkened room, the spots where your cat has peed or pooped will glow.
Dahlia: It’s possible that your kitty has become senile in her old age. If this is the case, she may have forgotten her toilet habits. If this is the case, it’s very important that you put the litterbox near where she hangs out and make sure she knows where it is. Put some of her litter from the old box in the new box so she recognizes “her” smell there.
Siouxsie: We’d definitely recommend that you take your cat to the vet for a checkup. Changes in toileting habits can be a sign of illness. Older cats are more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or chronic renal (kidney) failure. If your cat’s inappropriate elimination is a behavior problem, your vet may be able to give you some other tips on how you can help her pee and poop where she should.
Thomas: Be patient with your elderly cat and treat her with love and compassion. Make sure you take the time to accommodate her changing needs and keep giving her lots of kindness and companionship. Old age can be a scary time for cats because they don’t necessarily understand what’s happening to them.
Dahlia: Good luck, Cote. Please let us know how things turn out!
Thanks for this website. I have a 19 year old male cat that has been pooping on the floor for a while now and just recently started peeing as well. I “discovered” a spot this morning and did a search for help on the topic and this post was the best advice I’ve seen. I have 2 litter boxes and the box on the main floor has been in the location the longest and I put another box on the second floor about 2 years ago. He pretty much never uses the one on the main floor anymore unless I see him acting funny and I physically put him in it. He does have health issues that include constipation, urinary infections, and arthritis. He is on a special diet and medication to help control these issues. This post helped me to realize there isn’t much more I can do except place another litter box on the main floor in the area he seems to “use” the most. I think I will also invest in a black light which might be scary to see all the spots that I don’t know about.
Much thanks for the advice given here. I have a fifteen year old female cat. She has always been a regurgitator, but is now pooping on the second floor. Her littler box is on the first floor. Hopefully a trip to the vet for her and litter box style/location change will make life more enjoyable for her and less clean-ups for me.
Thanks for the advice. my cat is definitely elderly and i DO NOT want to put him down because of his problem.I think that would be cruel.I will try these things to do and then consult my vet. I feel a lot better now that i read this.
thank you for this .. I have a 18 year old that has been diagnosed with hyper thyroid and is on meds for that but in the last week JUsT started pooping here and there – no urine so far as i can tell , that is still in his litter box. We put him in the spare bedrrom and shut the door when we are sleeping now/ or out for the day and that has helped to make him go only in his box . Poor guy. He eats good, drinks well : (
Our old boy started doing this and we were at our wits end, because he flat out refused to use the litterbox…until I had a brainwave. We took out the nasty sharp little stones that make up litter, and used shredded paper instead. It worked. Apparently his paws had been getting tender in his old age and the litter was hurting his feet. Soft paper was much better for him.