Why does my cat defecate outside the litter box?

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One of the most unpleasant surprises that we can find as cat owners is the evacuation of stool out of the sandbox. The initial bewilderment turns into confusion and concern if the behavior becomes a habit. In this AnimalWised text we will point out the keys that answer the question why does your cat defecate outside the litter box. For this, we will stop to analyze the possible causes, since only from the understanding of the problem can we find the solution, which goes through measures such as those that, also, we indicate in the article that follows. And, as always, if the behavior persists, we should consult a specialist..

You may also be interested: Why does my cat take the litter out of its box? Index
  1. Determine the cause of the problem
  2. Analyze the sandbox
  3. Have you introduced a new cat?
  4. How to make a cat use the litter box?
  5. Never punish him!

Determine the cause of the problem

Finding our cat's droppings outside of its usual place, the sandbox, is one of the situations that most disturb us as guardians, given the fame of extreme neatness that these felines enjoy. And it is true that, from a very young age, as soon as they begin to take their first steps away from their mother, at approximately three weeks, they are already able to use the litter box with total correction. And for this, in clear contrast to what happens with dog puppies, you do not have to do anything other than show it to them, put it in it and move the sand slightly, imitating the scratching that they perform naturally..

For the cat to defecate outside of its box indicates a problem. In no case is it produced because the animal wants to bother us, we must banish those myths once and for all. Our cat is going through a bad time and our obligation as owners is to help him, investigating the causes of his behavior and putting the necessary means to eliminate it. If inappropriate defecation occurs only once, we can consider it a specific event and not give it greater importance. The problem is when it is repeated until it becomes a habit.

First we must take him to the vet to rule out that there is a physical cause that responds to why your cat defecates outside the litter box, such as constipation, diarrhea, the presence of parasites or even a musculoskeletal disorder, neurological disorder or senility, if you are in front of an old cat advanced. If the tests conclude that he is healthy, we can focus on finding a environmental cause: let's analyze the sandbox.

Analyze the sandbox

If your cat has stopped using the litter box or has never used it and, therefore, defecates outside its box, it is possible that the problem lies precisely in the toilet. So, check:

  • The sand: if we have changed the substrate it is possible that our cat finds it uncomfortable, so it will try to evacuate by touching it as little as possible until it ends up doing it outside.
  • The tray: the size has to be adequate, approximately 40 x 50 cm, measurements that allow the cat to turn on itself inside. The edges should not be too high, as they can make access difficult, especially with older cats. Your location is crucial. It is not recommended to place it in places in the house with constant traffic, next to doors or electrical appliances, or near your food or water. Therefore, we must look for a discreet and protected site.

These factors can explain why the cat defecates outside the litter box, whether it is an adult or a puppy, but they are not the only ones that influence. In this way, if you consider that the reason for your feline is not any of those mentioned, keep reading.

Have you introduced a new cat?

If a new cat has recently arrived at the home, this may be the reason why your cat has stopped using the litter box to defecate. Especially if you have decided that they share the litter box, since the most recommended is that each cat has its own box, and add an extra.

Cats are very territorial and neat animals, so they usually cannot bear to share something as intimate as their toilet. This does not mean that all cats are like this, since there are cats that are capable of sharing the box. However, if ours has stopped using it since the arrival of the new family member, in all probability the reason will be found here. For more information, you can consult the following article: "¿Can two cats use the same litter box? ". On the other hand, keep in mind that the presentation between them is crucial to ensure a good coexistence. If you did not do it correctly, especially the older cat can present behavior problems like this.

How to make a cat use the litter box?

After reviewing the most common causes, ¿how we get the cat to use the litter box to defecate?

  • Changing the substrate until we find our cat's favorite. In principle, we should avoid scented litters, as they can be unpleasant for some cats. The amount of sand should be about 3-4 cm. As for the type of sand, fine grain is recommended, softer to the touch.
  • Modifying the place of the tray and even adding another, although we live with a single cat. We will see that one will use it primarily for feces and the other for urine. And remember that if we have more, the number of trays must be equal to the number of cats +1. We can also try to offer you a covered tray, if yours is discovered, and vice versa..
  • Increasing cleanliness, Trying that the cat always has at its disposal a tray free of feces and urine. It is not convenient to use ammonia or bleach to clean the tray, we will always have to opt for enzymatic products.
  • If we observe that our cat always defecates in the same place, we can try to put a tray there to incentivize their behavior. If instead of a tray we put food, we will dissuade him.

We must also take into account if there has been any change at home and / or in the cat's routine, that can explain why the cat defecates outside the litter box. Fear can make you unsafe to use it, for example, so paying attention to where you defecate can give us clues.

Never punish him!

Finally, we must never punish the cat, let's not forget that he does not do it on purpose and for him it is also a difficult situation. Neither confinement nor water pistol nor any other similar method. Our cat cannot speak but he is asking us for help. On the contrary, we must pay more attention to all their reactions to find the underlying cause and always reward good behavior. Keep in mind that positive reinforcement is the key to success.

If taking into account all these factors the problem persists, we should consult with a veterinarian specialized in ethology so that he is the one who helps us determine and solve, at once, why the cat defecates outside the litter box.

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