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Q&A: Why Is My Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works with dogs, cats, exotics, and livestock.

Older cats may start pooping in the house due to medical reasons, even if they look perfectly healthy.

Older cats may start pooping in the house due to medical reasons, even if they look perfectly healthy.

Why Is My Older Cat Defecating Outside the Litter Box?

"I am 81 years old and have a female calico who was 12 years old in May. I got her at 1.5 years of age as a rescue. Today is the second time she's pooped within my home...not diarrhea...and not just a single turd that might have stuck to her when she left the litter box. These two places were not even in the room where the litter box is.

Of your 10 reasons for this...nothing at all applies except for age or medical issues. She weighs 9.6 lbs and has always been just under 10 lbs. She is strictly an indoor cat...behavior is normal...she plays a lot. Eating and drinking water are normal." —Carol

Constipation May Be to Blame

Since you have already looked into the most common reasons that cats defecate outside the litter box, I would recommend looking into the medical causes. From the photos, your cat looks like she is in great shape, but there are changes in aging pets that can cause the problem you describe.

The most common medical cause of cats going outside the litter box is constipation. They may go to the box and be able to urinate, but only sometime later when away from the box are they able to defecate. That fits with it happening in another room.

Common Causes of Dehydration in Cats

Constipation happens when a cat is dehydrated, and there are a lot of reasons for that:

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Read More From Pethelpful

  • kidney failure
  • diabetes
  • hyperthyroidism
  • anything that causes vomiting and diarrhea
  • dry food
  • whisker fatigue and not drinking enough
  • not changing water enough
  • stress

Test for Kidney Problems

There is now a reliable test to find out if your cat has kidney problems long before there are other problems like vomiting and weight loss. (1) You can ask your veterinarian to perform this blood test after the physical exam.

Keeping your cat hydrated will be hugely beneficial to their health.

Keeping your cat hydrated will be hugely beneficial to their health.

Encourage Your Cat to Drink More Water

If you cannot take your cat to the vet for this problem at the moment, be sure to get her to drink more by feeding only canned food, buying flat bowls, and always having clean flowing water by using a water fountain.

Take her to your veterinarian when you can. If kidney disease is identified before there is weight loss, you can extend her lifespan by several years just by changing her diet.

Source

  1. Relford R, Robertson J, Clements C. Symmetric Dimethylarginine: Improving the Diagnosis and Staging of Chronic Kidney Disease in Small Animals. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2016 Nov;46(6):941-60. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27499007/

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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