Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Our lively, fun and playful 16-year-old Maine Coon has started pooping on the floor! He has two homes, spends half the year as an indoor cat in Florida and spends the other half as an indoor/outdoor cat in Alaska. He started pooping on the floor this winter in Florida. He has a great litter box area with just the right amount of light and privacy. I have tried different litters which seem to work at first and then he goes right back to his dirty deed. We started spraying a deterrent in all his favorite places, all tile spots thank goodness. Then he would choose a different location. Before we could resolve the issue it was time to head north to Alaska. We didn’t think we would have the same issue here because he has the freedom to poop outside, but we do. We have been here for 2.5 months, he prefers to use his litter box rather than going outside and has just began his floor pooping routine here. We are devastated. Any clues to help us with our dilemma?
Siouxsie: First of all, Raymie, rest assured that your cat doesn’t like this very much, either.
Thomas: This behavior is more common than you might think, particularly in older cats.
Bella: And the culprit usually is arthritis!
Siouxsie: It might be hard for you to believe, especially because your kitty seems lively and playful. But the fact that he’s only having accidents with poop is especially telling.
Thomas: You see, the squat we hold when we poop is a lot different than the squat we hold when we pee. Our back is much more arched, and our rear legs have to nice and strong to hold ourselves up that way so we don’t sit in our poop.
Siouxsie: We cats are good at hiding our pain. It’s a natural instinct. So you usually just get hints like litter box mistakes. When I’m feeling especially painful and weak, sometimes I prop my back legs on the edge of the litter box. I’m trying my best, but when my body squeezes the poop out, it pushes me off the box edge and I end up leaving little poopie son the floor. *sniffle*
Thomas: We’d recommend that you take your big boy to the vet and get him checked out. Your vet may want to take an X-ray to check for arthritic changes. If indications of arthritis are found, your vet may make some recommendations about pain management.
Bella: Another thing: Constipation can make it even harder for an arthritic kitty to poop properly, so make sure your cat gets plenty of liquid in his diet and always has fresh water available to drink.
Siouxsie: Mama always feeds us wet food, so at least I don’t have to worry about constipation!
Thomas: So, how did Mama figure out that Siouxsie was in paine? She started watching Siouxsie walking around and realized she was more “hunchy” than usual. Then mama took her to Doctor Alden and told her what was going on.
Siouxsie: Doctor Alden moved my legs and hips around, and it hurt! I grumbled at her. Then she told Mama that she felt crinkling and crackling (vets call it “crepitus”) that indicated arthritis in my hips.
Thomas: They talked about options for managing the pain. Mama had been giving her a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement and it hadn’t been helping much, so Doctor Alden recommended gabapentin. That’s a medicine that dulls the pain signals produced by nerves in arthritic areas.
Bella: Other medical options include Adequan injections and, for very severe arthritis, meloxicam.
Siouxsie: Meloxicam (sold under the brand name Metacam) is an NSAID, and NSAIDs are not good for cats. Doctor Alden said Metacam is only to be used when you’re more interested in quality of life than length of life, because the toxicity will inevitably cause cause problems.
Thomas: When we moved out west, Mama noticed Siouxsie’s pain was getting worse. When we went to see our new vet, Doctor Sarah, she took X-rays of Siouxsie’s hips, and the cartilage between her leg bones and hips is almost gone.
Bella: No wonder she was so grumpy! That must hurt a lot!
Siouxsie: Mama found out from Doctor Sarah about an herbal supplement called Canna Companion. It’s a cannabis supplement for pets, developed by Doctor Sarah and her husband, who did years of research to make sure it was safe for all pets. It’s legal all over the U.S. because it has barely any THC at all in it. Mama started giving it to me and it changed my life!
Thomas: Siouxsie’s still not as playful as she once was, but she says she’s in a lot less pain.
Bella: And she’s in a much better mood, too!
Siouxsie: And I’ll stay in a good mood if you quit chasing me all over the house, young lady!
Thomas: So, Raymie, we strongly recommend a visit to the vet and mention the litter box issue. It could very well be that your big guy is suffering from arthritis. Some good pain management could change his life and solve his pooping problem.
Bella: Please write back and let us know how things go. Purrs to you!
That’s awesome that Siouxie found relief. Cannabis helps humans as well. I remember our healer kitty Miss K. She LOVED to sit on my lap when I smoked. I noticed right before she passed, she was having more pain with walking and getting around. :(
Constipation was the reason Chucky was pooping on the floor, but it took us a long time to figure it out. We started with pain meds, then chill pills, we added more litter boxes, different sized litter boxes, different placement of litter boxes. Once we started adding canned pumpkin and a bit of stool softener, then his behavior changed. Get the cat to the vet, to make sure there aren’t other problems, but we now can tell when Chucky isn’t feeling ‘great’; we are so intuned with his body language when he shows discomfort. It can happen if he gets a few too many kibble (only as a treat) or even those green dental things. Good luck!
Dear Most Esteemed & Knowledgeable kitties,
Please don’t call me silly for asking this question. The main thing is.. do “single” cats get lonely?
Here is why I’m asking. My Andy is the sweetest kitty baby (ok he’s 4-1/2 years old) you ever want to meet. But, he is my only kitty. I live alone and work full time.I have considered getting him a playmate but I just can’t afford the added expense. I recently had to dish out over $800.00 to have some issues resolved by the vet.. Ouch! Anyway. I am interested in joining a gym/take swimming lessons. But, believe it or not, I don’t want to leave my Andy for that extra amount of time. Am I crazy? Any advice?
It depends on the cat. My guy has been an “only” cat since he was nine months old. He seems happy and well-adjusted. Make sure you have windows he can look out of and a couple of high perches. The Ohio State University vet school has an Indoor cat iniative that might be of interest:
I, too, had a large (not Maine Coone) cat who was 16 who had severe arthriis. He was barrel bodied and had thick white legs which took me a while to realize were filled with pain. He had trouble sometimes climbing in the litter box so he would cry to go outside which I always let him. I gave him an herbal remedy that worked great for about a month but then he started throwing up so I had to quit. If I touched his legs (especially the rear ones) he would cry. He still wanted to go out which I’m sorry I let him one day because he disappeared for three days and then we found him. I believe he was hit by a car but we’ll never know for sure because of the length of time. Good luck with your big guy.
My female (neutered) cat who is just over 1 year old, poops in the bathtub. What’s up with that?
It’s common for cats with medical problems to begin eliminating outside of their litter box. For example, a urinary tract infection or crystals in the urine can make urination painful and both are serious conditions that require medical attention. Cats often associate this pain with the litter box and begin to avoid it. I hope this helps!
If a cat, for any reason, is having a problem getting into the litter box, one thing you should try is to make the box easier to get into. There are commercial boxes with one side that’s very low, only an inch or two high.
Or build a ramp to the box, so the cat can more or less walk into the box. This can help with tiny kittens too, if you have one of the boxes with very tall sides. Sturdy cardboard may work but a piece of plywood cut to size is much more stable. A couple of L brackets can be screwed to the end to hook over the box on one side, so it can’t slide out of place when the cat walks on it.
And if the box happens to have a top on it, try removing the top entirely, just in case it’s part of the issue. Most cats, at least in my experience, don’t care for tops on their boxes anyway.
I had the sweetest little black & white female who was very, very small and during her last months, she became even smaller and lost strength; she didn’t eat much, poor baby. She passed away at age 19, but for a week or so before she passed, I saw she had become too weak to step over the side of her box. It had quite high sides, too high for her in her condition.
I cut down the sides of a cardboard box to just under two inches & lined it with plastic and put her litter in that. She was able to just walk onto her litter without effort. Since she also couldn’t squat, invariably, some of the urine would end up on the floor, but what’s the problem, if you need to do a bit more clean up for a cat that age. I placed a heavy vinyl sheet down under the box, so it didn’t matter if she missed. I think it allowed her to keep her dignity until she fell asleep that last time.