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Siouxsie in her heated cat bed

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have had Cleo for 2 months. She evidently was traumatized before. She has come a long way but will pee in the box but not poop. I have tried different locations and box size. The litter is the same. I am almost 90 years old and have no problem cleaning the box but can’t get on the floor to clean up. She is a sweet kitty, getting over being frightened somewhat, a rescue kitty so I don’t know what she has been through!

~ Ruthanne

Thomas: Well, Ruthanne, there are a couple of reasons why cats might poop outside the box but pee in it. We’ve had some experience with this since our beloved Siouxsie (who you see in the photo above) had a similar issue.

Bella: With Siouxsie, it started happening as she got older. Mama’s pretty sure it was because she was in pain from arthritis, which made it hard for her to keep the “poop squat.”

Tara: You see, there are two different kinds of squats we use. In the pee squat, we have a straight back and spread our feet out while sitting on our heels to avoid getting pee on our paws.

Thomas: But in the poop squat, our backs are more rounded and we hold ourselves up on our tiptoes with our knees bent.

Bella: That poop squat takes more strength, and if we have pain in our knees or hips it’s very hard to maintain! That was Siouxsie’s problem: she had severe arthritis in her hips and as she got older, her muscles started to get weaker. What she did to make it possible for her to poop was that she perched her back legs on the edge of the litter box with her butt hanging inside…

Thomas: … but once the poop started coming out, her back leg came off the edge of the box and onto the ground, so there were little poops on the floor right next to the litter box.

Bella: Once she had good pain management, she rarely had poops that landed on the ground.

Tara: So, Ruthanne, we’d recommend a trip to the vet first. Your vet can help you figure out whether she’s sore, and what’s making her sore if she is, and then give you some medicine to help her hurt less.

Thomas: So if the poop is right outside the box, she may be telling you she’s hurting.

Bella: The other possibility is that she may be trying to mark her territory because she’s stressed. If she poops near doors and windows, she may be seeing other cats outdoors and responding to that.

Tara: But usually cats mark their territory with pee.

Bella: Yeah, you sure do, you little stinkpot!

Tara: That’s not nice! I’m scared!

Bella: Maybe you should try being less scared, then.

Tara: But it’s hard. I’m not used to living with other kitties! *sniffle* I’m doing the best I can!

Thomas: And you’re doing a very good job, Tara. Can I come under your couch and groom your ears?

Tara: Eek!

Thomas: Okay, maybe next time. *sniffle*

Fizzion spray bottle and two tabletsBella: Anyway, Ruthanne, the first thing you’re going to want to do is clean up the spots where she poops so she doesn’t feel the need to mark that space again and again. Our favorite cleaner for light cleaning is Fizzion. It’s really easy to use and it works great!

Tara: You can get it online or sometimes at pet stores or department stores.

Thomas: Another thing you can try is putting down puppy training pads where your Cleo is pooping. That way all you have to do is pick up the puppy pad and put it in the garbage instead of getting down on the floor and scrubbing.

Bella: You can also use Feliway plugins to help disperse “happy cat” synthetic pheromones, which should help relieve any stress she’s experiencing. Feliway is marketed as an inappropriate elimination preventer, but that’s because many cats poop or pee inappropriately because they’re experiencing some kind of emotional issue.

Tara: Feliway is also available online, but most pet stores stock it, too.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you gone through inappropriate pooping issues with your cat? Do you have any tips for Ruthanne?

Bella: Please feel free to share them in the comments, and let’s help Ruthanne get her kitty doing all her business in the litter box!