While we may get used to our cats bringing us the odd ‘present’ from their outdoor ventures, pooping outside of their litterbox is a habit we’d rather not encourage. The occasional litter tray accident shouldn’t be too much of a problem but if it starts happening suddenly or more frequently, it could be a sign something’s up. We take a look at why your kit may be preferring the floor to their litterbox and suggest some practical ways to stop a cat from pooping on the carpet.
What is Normal Cat Toilet Behavior?
A kitten should start to learn how to use a litterbox from around 5-7 weeks so that by the time they are a couple of months old, they are able to pee and poop in the tray when inside the house as well cover over their feces with kit litter. Cats are fastidious when it comes to going to the toilet and should be consistent in their use of their litter tray. So, when you find your cat pooping on carpet, you can be sure that something’s not quite right.
Related Post: Cat Litter Box
Why is My Cat Suddenly Pooping Outside the Litterbox?
In answer to the question ‘why is my cat pooping on the floor?’ there are numerous reasons why you may be finding their feces around the home:
He Could Be Sick
Before looking at other reasons why your cat has suddenly changed their toilet habits, you should rule out any health-related cause, including:
- Digestive problems: Constipation or diarrhea could lead to cat poop away from the litter tray as your pet is caught by an urgent need to go. If it’s a one off, their upset digestion should settle but if it lasts longer or you hear them yelping as they strain then get them checked out as it could be a sign of irritable bowel disease or other digestive problems.
- It’s age-related: As your cat gets older, they’re susceptible to health conditions which may lead to toilet problems. Arthritis can make it difficult for your kit to climb into their litterbox or squat so if you find cat poop on the rug, it may have been an easier and less painful place to go. Older cats can also develop dementia which may cause him to forget his litterbox training and just go where he needs to.
- Urinary tract infection: UTIs can be really painful and your cat may find the rug or carpet an easier, less stressful place to go. And this could lead them to associate their litterbox with pain and avoid it when they need to poop.
- Reaction to their food: If you’ve recently changed your kit’s regular food to something new, they could be having a reaction and their digestion is upset, with a reduced ability to control that urgent need to poop.
He Could Be Stressed
If your cat won’t stop pooping on carpet, then he could be reacting to a stressful situation. Cats are not the best at dealing with stress or change and this could be sending his toilet routine off kilter. If you suspect your cat is a ‘stress carpet pooper’, have a look at anything affecting him, such as a house move, a new pet or child in the household or a sudden change to his usual routine.
Other Behavioral Issues
Certain cat traits can also lead to poops on the carpet as they try to retain control. If a new cat has been brought into the house, your kit could well be marking out their territory. While marking with urine is more common, some cats will use poop to stake their claim. And, as cats are fastidious animals when it comes to cleanliness, a less than clean, smelly litterbox could push them to find somewhere else to poop.
How to Stop Them Carpet-Pooping
Once you’ve ruled out any underlying health issue, you should look to break their carpet-pooping habit. Here’s how:
- Clean up evidence of the poop ‘accident’: What you don’t want is your cat to start associating their carpet poop site as the place they should regularly use and that means thoroughly cleaning the area to eradicate any scent which could bring your cat back. Consider using an enzymatic cleaner formulated for pet messes for the very best ‘no scent here’ result.
- Re-think their litterbox: There could be something not quite right with your cat’s litterbox that’s sending them to another poop place. Your cat expects their litter tray to be super-clean and prefers space to comfortably squat so if this is how their box falls short, your carpet could be paying the price. If your cat has a favorite place in your home for their alternative poop site, you could move their litter tray to this location, or you could consider adding a second litterbox instead. This could also be the solution if you have more than one cat and they simply don’t want to share the same litterbox space.
- Reduce stress: If you suspect stress is driving your cat to be a carpet-pooper, then be proactive to reduce their anxiety. Effective socialization with new pets can help to be more desensitized to any associated stress. And don’t forget cats are private animals, so if their litterbox is exposed or they don’t feel safe using it, they’ll find somewhere else to do their business. If this is the case, try moving their litter tray away from their food/water bowl and place it somewhere more secluded.
- Improve their daily routine: Taking time to understand your cat will help you ensure their daily life and environment is what they need. If you suspect you cat is bored or unstimulated, keep them occupied with some interactive toys and make the time for some quality play with them each day. A cat that has the attention they need is less likely to display ‘anti-social’ behavior such as pooping on your carpet.
Take a look at our guide on the best cat deterrent.
And Finally – Be Patient
Your cat’s carpet pooping habit will not necessarily change overnight and putting undue pressure on your cat could actually make things worse. The key is to work out the root cause of their carpet pooping and come up with a plan. Then be consistent, patient, and caring with your cat and they should soon be back to happy litterbox pooping. But if there’s no real movement in their behavior despite your best efforts, or you come to suspect there could be a health or other behavioral reason, then take your kit to the vets for expert advice.
- Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, What to Do When Your Cat Refuses to Use the Litter Box, Petful
- Cleaning Common Cat Messes, WebMD
- Lorie Huston, DVM, 5 Litter Box Mistakes to Avoid, PetMD
- Why Does My Cat… Not Use the Litterbox?, Vetstreet