Why Does My Cat Poop Outside the Litter Box? AND How To Stop It!

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by Steven Thomas

cats peeing and pooping outside litter box

If your cat stopped pooping in the litter box, it’s a sure sign that something’s up.

Diagnosing the issue isn’t always that straight forward.

It could be a serious health concern or something as simple as needing an extra litter box.

Either way, it’s important to take control of the problem before the situation gets worse.

In this post, we’ll discuss several common reasons why your cat keeps pooping outside of litter box and to stop it.

Let’s dive in.

Why is My Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box?

Many cats are trained to use the litter box, however, sometimes the training doesn’t work. If your cat keeps pooping outside of litter box, these 9 points could explain why.

Read on to learn how to stop cats from pooping outside their litter box.

1. Your cat could have an undiagnosed health issues

A common cause of your cat pooing or peeing outside their litter box is a health concern.

If they are pooping, they might have constipation or diarrhea. Diarrhea found outside the litter box could be due to them not making it in time.

Peeing outside the litter box could be a urinary tract infection. If this is the case, they may seem thirstier than usual.

Whatever the health concern, it’s essential to take your kitty to the vets to get them checked out.

Even if it’s not health related, they could give you the advice you need to stop it from happening.

2. Something has changed

Cats can be really sensitive animals. Any small changes in their life or environment can bring about abnormal behavior.

It could be anything that has changed, even in the slightest. The death of a friend or family member, you’ve moved the litter box or move house.

Maybe the weather has changed and that is why your cat is no longer pooing inside their litter box.

A common reason why your cats pooping and peeing outside the litter box is that you’ve changed litter.

Fixing the issue could be as simple as reverting back to what has changed. But sometimes this isn’t possible. In that case, spend a little more time with your cat to reasure them that their litter box is safe to keep using.

3. You have a new cat

Have you recently got a new cat? Or maybe even another pet?

The arrival of a new pet can be extremely daunting for your cat and may be the cause of them doing their business anywhere but the litter box.

Getting advise from your vet might be your best bet. If your cat is experiencing stress or anxiety, they may suggest solutions or treatment to calm them down.

4. Not enough litter boxes

Did you know that the optimal number of litter boxes is one more than the number of cats you have?

If you only have one cat, then one litter box might be enough. But if he or she is peeing and pooping outsite the litter box, adding an extra litter box might do the trick.

However, having a multi-cat household will usually require multiple litter boxes.

The reason is because cats are very territorial and don’t like to share the same place they do their business.

If you have more than one cat, consider getting an extra litter box per the number of cats you have.

5. Your cat might have arthritis

Another health condition that could be the culprit is anthing that causes your cat pain.

A degenerative joint disease, any spinal conditions, or arthritus may prevent them from wanting to use their litter.

That’s because they can associate their litter pain with the litter box.

This is what happened with my old cat, but with her food. She stopped eating and we thought there was something wrong with the food.

Turns out she had issues with her teeth and she associated the pain with her food and would even run away from it.

6. The litter box isn’t clean enough

Cats really dislike a dirty litter box. Making sure it’s cleaned out on a regular basis is benefit the both of you.

If you’re using clumping cat litter, then you can use a scoop each day to get rid of poop and clumps of urine.

It’s also recommended to give the entire box a thorough clean and use fresh litter ever 2 – 3 weeks, depending on the type of litter you use.

7. The litter box is too clean

As I mentioned before, cat are really sensitive. That includes strong smells such as cleaning detergents or soaps.

If you’re using cleaning products that are too strong, it can be the cause of them not wanting to use the litter.

It’s best to use a non-toxic and fragrance free detergent when cleaning the litter box. Even better if it’s made for cats.

Related: How To Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell [Complete Guide]

8. Your cat is scared

If you cat is anxious or scared to use their litter box, this is a sure sign why they’re pooping elsewhere around the house.

My cat once couldn’t get into her litter box because the lid was too high up for her and I think it made her feel too enclosed. Once I took the lid off, she was happy to get in and use it again.

9. Your cat doesn’t like it’s litter

Some cats can be a little fussy when it comes to the different types of litter you can buy.

Finding the best cat litter for your cat might take a bit of trial and error.

Also, if you have recently changed litter, that can usually prevent a cat from using it, because they aren’t used to the smell or texture.

Try switching back to the old one so see if that is the cause.

How to Stop Cats From Pooping Outside the Litter Box

Follow these 5 tips to prevent your cat from pooping or peeing outsite the litter box.

Rule Out Underlying Health Issues

The best course of action is to pay a visit to your local vets. No matter what the reason your cat is peeing and pooping outsite the litter box, they might be able to help.

Consider Litter Box Location

Where the litter box is situated can determine whether your cat is happy to use it or not.

Or if you have recently moved the litter box, that might be why.

Try moving the litter to somewhere safe that is quiet and away from their food.

Provide an Adequate Number of Litter Boxes

It’s important to have multiple litter boxes to give your cats options, even if you only have one cat.

Multiple cats will most likely need more because they don’t like sharing.

The rule of thumb is t have one extra litter box for the number of cats you have. So, if you have 2 cats then you’ll need 3 litter boxes, and 4 cats will need 5 litter boxes.

Keep a Clean Litter Box

Maintaining a clean litter box is essential for your cats health and wellbeing; and yours too.

Try to scoop out the any nasties everyday and give it a thorough clean when too much of the litter gets too contaminated.

Consider Buying a New Litter Box

An old litter box can retain nasty smells because the plastic gets scratch at the bottom.

You might even be able to smell it yourself, but your cat will. The recommended time frame for replacing a litter box is once per year.

If you’ve tried some of the other tips on this page, try this last to see if that does the job.


In conclusion, there are several things you can do to help your cat learn to poop in the litter box again.

The most common causes are a urinary tract issue, your cat being scared or anxious, not liking the type of cat litter you’re using, or not having enough litter boxes.

Whatever the cause, a visit to the vets, a change of litter, or adding additional litter boxes can help remedy the problem.

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Steven Thomas
Steven has been studying cat behavior ever since adopting two stray kittens in 1996. After rescuing many homeless cats over the years, he developed the skill of finding new homes for cat lovers seeking to adopt. About Steven

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