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Hello all.

After a short internal debate, I've decided to post this question in the 'Behavior' forum, although one of the others may better apply.

My husband and I and Nala and Penny recently (June 30) moved into a new home. The girls lived in a spare bedroom for a day but then got the run of the house and acclimated very well.

We have three litter boxes - one in a laundry room on the main level, one in an unfinished section of the basement used for storage, and the third in another unfinished section of the basement where the furnace and water heater, etc reside; we refer to this area as "deep storage." All three boxes are in large open spaces. Each box is an open top. One of the boxes is one the girls had in my condo, the other two are new.

The girls have been using the boxes successfully for the first 4 weeks or so. But in the last week, one of them has been pooping on the cement floor in "deep storage". When this first happened it was about 4 feet from the box in that area. I cleaned it up, then put one of their shoe boxes with felt softies inside over the spot. Then we had another occurrence, this one in a different area about 20 feet from the box. I cleaned that up as well, but left the area uncovered. At that point, I started adding Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract additive to all three boxes. Today we had another poop in the same spot. So I cleaned it up again. This time, I moved the litter box onto the spot where the last two BMs have occurred. I added extra Cat Attract to just that box.

My husband is off to locate a deterrent spray to start spraying on the spots when they occur.

Recent health check-ups show both cats relatively healthy - Penny's on blood pressure meds and both have stage 2 kidney failure. Their ages are 16 and 14. I doubt this is health-related.

There have been no urination issues, only #2.

Any ideas?
 

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Is it the older one doing the pooping outside the box? If so, could be some dementia with the 16 y.o.....some cats in old age do that sort of thing, or start meowing loudly in a room as if they are lost. Were the areas cleaned with an enzyme cleaner, such as "Nature's Miracle", to get rid of any of the scent? Another reason for pooping outside the box is that is the cat doesn't think it's clean enough. Another possibility is when she poos it is hurting her, either from diarrhea or hard stools and she associates the discomfort with the box. Sometimes it's a form of marking territory, especially if there's no attempt to cover the poop. Are their cats near your new home that are scent marking outside? Could be this is upsetting the your girl? Any way, it's always a bit of a mystery as to why a cat starts a habit it never did before. Hope some of these suggestions may point the way to the problem.
 

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Hi NC!
Catloverami mentioned outdoor cats...there's also the possibility that the previous people had a cat/cats, that they kept in the 'deep storage' area, which could also be upsetting the girls.

Do you leave a small light on for them? Age can affect vision, and that might help, if their vision isn't quite what it used to be.

How about any loud noises down there? Loud furnace, washer/dryer?
Someone might not be comfortable with that...

There's even the possibility, that they're missing time with you, and the stress could be causing the mis-behavior...

Arthritis could be an issue, do the boxes have a low entry feature?
If not, either cut out an opening, or invest in one that has that feature, to give it a try...

Wishing you and yours, All the Best!
Sharon
 

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Hi NebraskaCat!

Congrats on the new house (and did I miss a wedding?)!

I had the same thought as Sharon about possible noise from the furnace, boiler, etc., especially if it's only that one box where you're finding poo issues. If Penny or Nala was in the litterbox when one of them cycled on, maybe it spooked her?

What if you moved (or even took away) that one box for a few days? Of course, the result could be poo near a different box...but maybe worth the risk to figure out what's going on.

I'm so sorry about the early CKD diagnosis. It's distressingly common in older kitties.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey everybody, thanks for the comments. All very helpful as always.

I have a suspicion it is Penny, the 16 yo, who is pooping outside the box (there is never urine). It has occurred in the vicinity of all three boxes. I've been adding Cat Attract and cleaning with Nature's Miracle.

Penny does also vocalize frequently, sometimes for attention, sometimes for food, sometimes I wonder if she's in pain, but it often seems like for no reason whatever. So the idea of dementia is in the forefront of my thoughts with her.

Penny still jumps to the top of a tall king bed, so I don't think arthritis is an issue, but I definitely have seen benefits of low-entry boxes at the Shelter, so we might get one of those. Although, Nala seems to be a cat who often hits the side of the box instead of into the litter at the bottom, so it can't be *too* low.

There are no outside animals that I've seen and no previous residents, as we built this home. So I don't think an external or previous pet is to blame.

The furnace/water heater aren't noisy. I don't think noise is a factor.

With regard to CKD, I am fairly familiar with Tanya's site, although I haven't joined their community. We will continue to get regular bloodwork, and when the time comes for SubQ fluids, we will do that. However, I will refuse to make their lives more miserable with frequent vet trips, blood sticks, fluid sticks and pills - there will be a time (and I probably won't recognize it) when too much is too much.

Oh and yes, Patty, the wedding was June 9 :smile2:

Thanks for all the input again. You guys are awesome.
 

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Hi Jeff,

Congratulations on the wedding!

I'll throw out two other possible health issues that might be connected to the pooping issue. One is constipation. Celia pooped out of the box when she was constipated. Sometimes, she'd start in the box, then hop out and to finish on a soft place - most frequently my pillow. Or, if she's lost weight, her paws might be more sensitive to the litter, though in that case I'd expect peeing issues too. On the bright side, at least it's poo, not pee issues: I'll take cleaning up poo over pee any day!

Behaviorally, the only other thing I can think of is maybe as she's getting older, she's becoming more fussy about the box? Since you have 2 in the basement, it doesn't seem very likely. But maybe if there's pee in one and poop in the other, she won't use either? No poo issues in the box in the laundry room?

As for CKD, I totally understand. Oddly, I did exactly the opposite of you, although for the same reasons. Celia was so exceptionally skittish that I wanted home to be her safe place, so we didn't do subQs at home. We went to the vet twice a week. That of course is stressful too, but she had to go weekly anyway to keep tabs on her anemia, and the vet was already the scary place to her. I gave her the meds that I could sneak into food or treats, but nothing that needed to be injected or pilled. That would have given her no quality of life. But, when needed, there are meds you can easily add to food to help slow the progression of the disease. Feel free to let me know if you have any Qs on that front.

Just one other thing, about the vocalization. Sharon had recommended a night light. I would wonder about some loss of vision, especially since she's on amlodipine, which I assume is for high blood pressure. That can distress a kitty. If she were in pain, I'd expect her to be lethargic, though of course they hide it well.

I hope that the low-sided litterbox helps and that your basement floor will soon be a poo-free zone. :)
 
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