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Cat poops next to the litter tray

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Kmjwood, Mar 4, 2017.


  1. Kmjwood

    Kmjwood PetForums Newbie

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    Hi,

    We've got a problem with one of our kittens pooping next to the litter tray. We've tried so many things that we're at a loss with what to do next.

    We've got two ragdoll kittens that are 8 months old, brother and sister. We've had them since they were 3 months and they arrived fully litter trained. However, just a couple of weeks after having them Yoshi, the boy, started pooping next to the litter tray. Over the past 4 months it's gradually got worse where he now consistently poops next to the litter every time. I think it must have been about 3 months since he voluntarily pooped in the litter tray without us putting him in there just when he is about to go.

    His sister, Mitsu, hasn't had a single toileting "accident" since we've had them. She uses the litter trays with no problem at all. Both kittens get on very well, they play together and sleep together (out of choice). Mitsu was a bit clingy with Yoshi when we first got them and would follow him around everywhere and meow for him to come back if he left the room, which may have been a bit annoying for him when he was going to the toilet! He's always been the more independent of the two, but she's calmed down a lot and doesn't mind being in separate rooms now ;)

    Here's a bit about their living situation:

    - We live in a flat with only one floor but two spacious bedrooms and a large living room.
    - We have 4 litter trays - 2 in the spare room and 2 in the bathroom. His sister tends to use the 2 in the spare room and Yoshi tend to use the 2 in the bathroom. They both clearly like to pee in one and poop in the other (or pee in one and poop on the floor in Yoshi's case). Yoshi and Mitsu have a regular sized litter tray each and a large brit-pet sieve litter tray each. They don't really show a preference for either type of tray.
    - We use wood pellets in the large sieve tray (the breeder used wood pellets and the same sieve trays so the kittens were used to using this when we got them) and Oko Plus Cats best litter in the regular trays. Again, they use both equally as frequently. We've also tried clay litter but neither of them seemed to even understand this was cat litter and stuck to using the wood pellets/Oko.
    - The litter trays aren't right next to each other and are all in quiet areas of the flat, away from food, water and sleeping areas.
    - We scoop the pee/poop from the litter trays twice a day and clean them properly with fairy liquid and hot water once a week.
    - We play with them all the time and they are both very affectionate lap cats. They both seem very happy and lie across our laps on their backs in true ragdoll fashion.

    I should note that Yoshi has never pooped anywhere other than on the lino right next to the litter trays. It isn't necessarily in the same spot - any bit of floor next to any litter tray will do... even occasionally next to Mitsu's litter trays in the spare room. I should also point out that the spare room has a carpet floor with the litter trays on a piece of lino and Yoshi has only ever pooped on the thin strip of lino on show, never on the carpet. This means he is so determined to poop on lino that he will squeeze himself into a tiny space to poop rather than use the nice big clean litter box beside him.

    He's been to the vet and we've been reassured that there is nothing medically wrong with him. The vets are certain that this is a behavioural issue.

    We've tried using a feliway diffuser, and giving him lots of praise for peeing in the litter tray and even a treat at times. We've also tried giving his sister lots of praise for using the litter trays to try and encourage him.

    We've tried lifting him gently into the litter tray when he's scratching at the lino about to poo, talking to him in a reassuring voice and praising him afterwards. The problem with this is that he's so against pooping in the litter tray that he immediately gets out and tries scratching at a different part of the floor on the other side of the litter tray. If we persist and put in back in the litter tray he gets so stressed out that he decides he doesn't need to poop anymore and leaves. When this happens, he usually doesn't attempt to go again for a couple of hours :(

    He always pees in the litter trays so doesn't seem to have anything strongly against them. But when he's going for a poo he frantically scratches at the lino and nothing can distract him from his focus so it doesn't work when we try to draw attention to the litter tray.

    We regularly clean the lino and clean the area where he's pooped straight afterwards with enzyme cleaner. We've also tried moving the litter trays to where he's pooped but he then just poops where the litter trays originally were. It isn't always in the same spot on the lino, just as long as it's near one of the litter trays. He's never attempted to poop on the kitchen lino.

    We feel that, whatever the original reason behind him pooping next to the litter tray, he now thinks the lino is where he's SUPPOSED TO POOP. So we need to retrain him to poop in the litter tray. We tried putting a piece of lino in one of the litter trays but he then simply peed in the lino litter tray and pooped next to it. We quickly switched back to litter because we didn't want him to think peeing on the lino was the way to go too!

    Does anyone have any advice? We really don't want to keep trying to place him in the litter trays because it seems to stress him out. It isn't the end of the world having to clean up poop from the lino - it isn't much more work than scooping it out of the litter tray anyway. But obviously we want him to poop in the litter tray and the longer it goes on the more he'll think this is normal behaviour.

    Sorry for my really long post... I just thought I should explain as much as possible.
     
  2. Babyshoes

    Babyshoes PetForums Senior

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    Strange, I do wonder what he's thinking! I hope someone with more experience will be along soon.

    Perhaps you could temporarily cover the lino all round the boxes with newspaper to break the association?
     
  3. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @Kmjwood -

    Hi and welcome to the forum :) . Thank you for an informative post with plenty of useful detail. :)

    Before I make any comments may I first ask a couple of questions:

    1) are both cats neutered, and if so, how long ago were their ops?

    2) what diet are you feeding them?

    Thanks. :)
     
  4. Kmjwood

    Kmjwood PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your suggestion. It was a good idea... we gave it a go yesterday and unfortunately found a poo in the bath this morning. You've got to laugh... to be fair on him the bath is also next to the litter tray! Seems as if any hard surface near the litter trays will do!
     
    Babyshoes likes this.
  5. Kmjwood

    Kmjwood PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Chillminx,

    Thanks for your message.

    They were both neutured back in November when they were 4 months old (recommended by the breeder, vet and cats protection).

    They are mainly on wet food - Simpsons complete grain free kitten food. This is the best one we could find at a reasonable price that is high in meat content and made with natural ingredients (40% chicken, 20% turkey, 10% salmon). They love it. They also get a small amount of applaws dry biscuits for kittens.
     
  6. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    How about a new litter box next to the others, with nothing in it, then?
     
    Babyshoes, chillminx and Paddypaws like this.
  7. Yorkshirecats

    Yorkshirecats PetForums Member

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    How about lining an empty litter tray with lino and seeing if he will use that? Then if he begins to use it, gradually add a bit of litter to it over a course of a few weeks? Hopefully that could break the association?

    Or different kind of litter?

    It really is a headscratcher!
     
  8. oggers86

    oggers86 PetForums VIP

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    My cat has always been similar, preferring to poo next to the tray. What seemed to help was switching his food from a high protein food to something with less protein and more moisture. So we went from Macs to Butcher's Classic.

    We went a whole year poo free which we thought coincided with letting him out but then he started up again which I think linked in with the food. We almost made it to one month of no poo but then he ate my bolognese and the next day did a poo in his usual spot again. It's possible he is very sensitive to things that aren't Butchers and they cause him discomfort when he goes so he does it on the floor.

    I don't know for certain if it's the food but I'm more convinced it's that than anything else. I don't know if he would use the trays on Butchers if he was an indoor cat, as he goes out he seems to poo outside.
     
  9. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi again, there is a reason why your cat is pooing next to the tray - he is trying to tell you something. I understand he will find it frustrating if you pick him up and put him in the tray as he will feel he's failing to get his message through to you. This is why it is not working when you try to 'retrain' him to use the tray for poo. I think it is unlikely he thinks the lino right next to a tray is the 'right' place to poo. If he did not recognise the actual purpose of the litter tray I would expect him to ignore it completely and poo elsewhere in the house, not next to a tray. Pooing right next to a tray means he is making a point, hoping you will understand the problem.

    Can I ask - are your cat's stools normal would you say? i.e. are they firm and formed, sausage-like? Not sticky, so when picked up off the floor they leave no residue? If this is not the case, are the stools soft, loose - or at the other extreme hard and dry? Either of these scenarios could cause litter tray avoidance because with an abnormal stool a cat may avoid the tray. If the cat is in discomfort in their gut they will associate the litter tray with pain, so more reason to avoid the tray. So if stools are not normal as I have described then it is best to review the diet. e.g. maybe cut out all dry food.

    Pooing in a very visible spot e.g. right next to the tray, may also be done as 'scent marking' (known as 'middening'). The cat knows what the litter tray is for but he is choosing not to use it as he wants his poo to be visible and attract attention.

    You mention you have 2 trays in the bathroom. Ideally trays would be in separate rooms as many cats like to have not just separate trays for pee and poo but separate rooms (i.e. separate toiletting areas).

    Are the trays covered? If so, I suggest removing the lids and see if that makes any difference. Cats feel vulnerable when they are pooing and some may instinctively prefer to see out all around them whilst in the process. All covered trays should have door flaps permanently removed anyway (for the same reason).

    It is possible that your cat's unease with the tray is more of a general unease about sharing resources with his sister. Sharing resources does not come naturally to cats (unless it is a mother cat with her kittens). Even related kittens who get along fine, snuggle together etc, feel competition for resources. As they become adolescents/adults they may want their own resources. So it's even possible the middening next to the tray is a visible message to his sister that he does not want her using his tray.

    Other things to think of, when looking at issues of competition:

    If your kittens are fed near each other, change this and give them their own feeding stations at least 10 feet apart and at different heights, e.g one on the floor and one on a worktop or table.

    Provide plenty of high up places for them to get away from each other when they need to - a couple of tall, (6 ft ) cat trees would be good. It is possible your boy still finds the female a bit clingy even though she is less so than before. This is going to be more of an issue with indoor cats who cannot go out to get away from each other, and also in an apartment on one floor. So utilising the vertical space not just the floor space is really important in a multi cat household of indoor cats.

    Provide plenty of scratch posts and pads, several to every room, different textures, sisal, compressed cardboard, soft wood. They will each have their favourite texture. When you have identified which texture the boy likes best put a scratching post in the bathroom by the door, so he can come in the room and scent mark with his claws/paws. It's possible he may feel less need to midden on the floor (as he will already have made his mark on the scratch post).

    Rub all scratch posts and pads with powdered cat nip.

    With some detective work, I hope you can 'read' what your cat is trying to tell you, and if you can resolve it for him he will start using the tray for poo.

    Please let us know how things go. :)
     
    #9 chillminx, Mar 6, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
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