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Hi there,

My name is Beau and I have a 4.5 year old cat. Not pure breed or anything, just your typically black and white cat. His name is McLovin and he's always been a very loving and happy cat. He is not one to hide under beds, he's jovial and likes to cuddle and sit on you when watching TV.

BUT, in the last 3 weeks all of a sudden I am having a problem with him not using the litter box. I've never had problems before. He has pooped on the floor probably about twice in the last 4 years I have owned him. My litter box is in the laundry room and it is always accessible for him. He's not acting strange or sick, he's his usual jovial self. I can't understand why he's doing this.

At first I thought it was because I changed brands of cat litter, I went back to the old cat litter I use and he's doing it more than ever. I thought it might be the treats I was giving him so I stopped giving him treats but that isn't it. I clean the litter box much more timely now and he's still doing it. Whenever he poops on the floor I pick him up and run him over to the poop, put his nose in and near it and tell him no. He puts his ears down and knows he was bad, but then two days later he does it again. I'll go run his head through water for a few moments and then lock him in the laundry room for a couple hours after as punishment. The times he has used the litter box in the last 3 weeks, I few times I've heard him in there and ran in there to give him a treat to reinforce he is doing the right thing.

I don't know what do to anymore, this is so frustrating. I love him like a child, but I can't keep a cat that destroys my home and poops on my carpet every day to no end.
 

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I went thru this with a friend of mine lately. She has two semi feral cats living in her house with her. They were peeing and pooing outside the box. They had been doing it for a couple years and she was at her end trying to deal with it.

First I had her start using Cat Attract litter by Dr Elsey. I would suggest putting it in a new box. Then clean all areas with Nature Miracle or a type of enzyme cleaner in all areas that has been peed or pooed on. Buy Feliway plug in dispensers. Put one in the room where the box is and around the house. You can find the feliway plug in cheapest on Amazon.

I had her play with her cats each day and make sure she had a peaceful energy around them so as to not stress them out.

You might look into Spirit Essence drops to use while solving this problem too.for Cats

Sometimes cats see cats out of doors and will start marking in the house so make sure he isn't reacting to cats outside.

This worked for her. Now she is able to open all doors in her house and they haven't gone outside the boxes.


http://www.spiritessences.com/Spirit-Essences-for-Cats-s/1816.htm
 

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Whenever he poops on the floor I pick him up and run him over to the poop, put his nose in and near it and tell him no. He puts his ears down and knows he was bad, but then two days later he does it again.
he honestly has no idea why you do that to him. he lays his ears back because he doesn't like being shoved close to poo and spoken to sharply. this isn't going to help the problem.

I'll go run his head through water for a few moments and then lock him in the laundry room for a couple hours after as punishment.
this really isn't going to do any good.

you should probably do the best you can with the cat attract and keep reinforcing his good bathroom habits if he's still in the box. if it's too long afterward, he just thinks he's getting a treat.

you might want to try a big cat kennel if you can find a used one cheap, or keep him in one room with the box until he uses it faithfully.
 

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I just want to point out that your kitty will not learn from negative reinforcement. What he did earlier doesn't equate to what you are doing to punish him in his mind or understanding.

When cats have negative behavior they are trying to tell us something. Normally when a cat doesn't have a medical issue and they are going outside their box it is stress. You have to find out what is the stress factor. Is he seeing cats outside his house in his territory so he is marking. Has there been changes in your life that is stressing him. Or is he not getting attention and stimulation to be happy? There are lots of reasons to choose from.

But what I shared with you is a proactive positive way to get him using his box again. The Feliway should help calm him. Otherwise this issue will escalate and not be resolved if using negative punishments.
 

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Has anything changed in the laundry room that could make a sudden noise? I found this happened with my cat. We lived in a house for 6 months and I put her litter box in the laundry room. She started spraying, something she'd never done before. I used enzyme cleaner on the pee spots and she still did it. Then one day I was in the laundry room when the furnace suddenly came on. It dawned on me that could be frightening her so I moved the litter box and the problem was solved. Cats who faithfully use the litterbox don't suddenly forget how to use it, they're trying to tell us something.


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Please don't do any of the punishments you're doing. Cats aren't dogs . . . they don't get why you're doing that to them, and they don't relate the punishment to the "crime." All they know is you're being mean to them. I've found that correcting a cat's behavior is all about changing the environment or circumstances that may help change the cat's behavior, rather than trying to change the cat him or herself.

McLovin, that's a cute name!
 

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Ok, every time someone posts about cats pooping outside of the litter box, I have to ask...could it be that he's constipated? Have you heard him scratching around in the litter box and then gone in and found nothing?

Celia started pooping out of her litter box when she started having trouble with constipation and now, she has chronic constipation. In fact, she pooped on my bed just a couple of hours ago - I forgot to close the door. My bed is her current preferred place to poop. The vet told me that sometimes, when cats are constipated, they'll associate the litter box with pain and this will cause them to avoid the box.

As for ruining rugs: Celia's pooped several times on my expensive rug (multicolored, happily). Thank goodness there's been no diarrhea, so cleaning up is easy. I've used Resolve, which has worked well, and more recently Nature's Miracle, which is amazing. The most irritating thing is that of course she tries to cover up her poop, so she scratches at the rug and pulls up tufts of wool. One other thing I did that worked was to buy a cheap rug and put it over her preferred spot on the carpet. She actually didn't like the texture and stopped pooping there.

I'd definitely recommend that you spray all areas where he's pooped with nature's Miracle. It's supposed to get rid of any scents (pheromones?) that might lead him to choose the same spots where he's already pooped.

You might want to go to the vet just to make sure there's no medical issue.

I know how frustrating it is - good luck!
 

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I agree with the others that you should keep the positive reinforcement for when he DOES use the litter box, but don't punish him when he doesn't. Unless he pooped on the floor RIGHT BEFORE you punish him, he won't know what the reason is for getting punished. It's true that they don't associate the punishment with the crime like October said, because they don't make connections between behaviors and treatment unless they literally come one after the other in succession (time-wise).

Is there any chance that he's declawed? I know that some declawed kitties have trouble with certain types of litter because their paws are more sensitive to coarseness.

Other than that, I agree that you should consider the vet if this has gone on for a while. And for cats, either receiving a reward or nothing is the way they learn what behaviors are acceptable.

Good luck!!
 

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The others have already spoken about the negative reinforcement issue so all I will say is DON'T DO IT. Your kitty has no idea what he's done wrong. He's trying to tell you something in the only way he knows how. It's up to you to figure out what that is.

Have you moved the litter box? A different location could be affecting him. Have you taken him in for a check up lately? Is the consistency runny diarrhea or super hard? Are you cleaning his box DAILY? And lastly, do you have more than one box for him? One cat in a home needs at least 2 litter boxes. The rule is one litter box per cat plus one more. All of these things can be a contributing factor.


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