It isn’t always a urination or spraying issue that cat owners face when it comes to the litter box. Sometimes, deposits consist of solid waste.
As with any other unwanted behaviour, you must first rule out any underlying medical cause for the behaviour. There are many medical conditions that can create a bowel movement-related litter box problem, ranging from parasites to serious diseases. Just because the cat’s stool looks normal doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on internally.
If your cat is a long-haired one, she may be having a problem with feces that stick to the fur on her anus, only to drop off outside the box. If this “smelly matter” doesn’t fall off on its own outside the box, the cat may groom to remove them, and they may be left behind on the carpet or floor near you.
Long-haired cats need daily grooming, and the hair on their hindquarters and back legs may need to be trimmed on a regular basis to reduce the risk of having fecal matter tangled or stuck there.
Another problem is that of constipation. Constipation is not unusual in cats because of the accumulation of hair ingested during grooming. That discomfort can generate a negative association with the box. Diarrhea can also develop into a litter box problem due to pain or the sense of urgency.
When you take your cat to the vet, bring along a fresh stool sample for analysis. Defecation outside the litter box may be due to internal parasites. By evaluating the stool sample, your vet will be able to determine whether your cat has worms. Yes, you read that right. The truth is, not only kittens get worms. If your cat goes outdoors to hunt, she is still at risk of worms. But even if you see worm segments on your cat or in your cat’s stool, don’t use an over-the-counter dewormer. Your veterinarian will prescribe a safe and effective deworming product.
Once the medical possibilities are ruled out, you can start looking at this from a behavioural standpoint. As with the previous sections, cleanliness plays a big part in whether the box is acceptable. This becomes an even bigger issue for many cats when it comes to bowel movements because of the longer amount of time spent in the box.
Covered boxes can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant for cats attempting to defecate. Look at the posture for defecation versus urination and you’ll see your cat position herself more upright for BM elimination. This means that any feeling of confinement from the covered box is magnified.
What you need to do is to create an open, safe, clean litter box environment and address location issues as discussed in previous sections.
There are some cats who, no matter how clean you keep the box, won’t defecate in the same box used for urination. If your cat does this, add a second box near but not too close to the original one.
In multicat households, there are situations in which a cat will mark with feces. This behaviour is called middening and is usually seen in an outdoor setting. Fecal markings provides the advantage of being seen at a distance. If one of your cats seems to do this, it may be a case of middening, especially if there’s tension among the companion cats.
In this case, you’ll have to work on the relationships between your cats, because more litter boxes will be needed and more environmental security has to be created.
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