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Why Does My Cat Pee In The Litter Box But Poop On The Floor? 9 Likely Reasons

For some, dealing with the litter box is easy. But for other cat owners, not so much. Here’s the thing—cats are finicky creatures, especially when it comes to the litter box. A tiny detail can cause a cat to start leaving special presents for us on the floor rather than in the litter box. The problem is obvious to our cats, but maybe not so much for us.

Cats are most vulnerable when they’re eating, drinking, and using the bathroom. So, if they don’t feel comfortable with their elimination site, they’ll find a new one. But what happens if your cat pees in the litter box just fine, but poops on the floor?

Let’s explore nine likely reasons why that is.

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The 9 Reasons Why Your Cat is Pooping on the Floor

1. The litter box is dirty.

cat poop in litterbox_RJ22, Shutterstock
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

This detail may seem obvious, but many cat owners sometimes forget about the litter box. Cats don’t have the luxury of flushing their waste as humans do, so if the litter box is dirty, they’ll find a new bathroom.

What To Do:

It’s time to scoop the box! But don’t just scoop all the waste and call it good. When you clean the litter box, add a scoop of new, fresh litter so the box smells better, and your cat can have fresh litter to do its business.

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2. Not enough litter.

Your cat could be pooping on the floor if there isn’t enough litter for it to bury. The amount of litter in a litter box dwindles as your kitty uses it. Pretty soon, the cat boxes are bare-boned, and there’s nothing for your kitty to use except soiled, crusty urine litter.

What To Do:

Cats love fresh litter! It will be enticing for your cat to use it. Each time you clean the litter box, add a scoop of new litter to keep the litter as clean and fresh as possible.

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3. Your cat doesn’t like the litter.

Two cats in the litter box
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

Cat litters are very different. They all serve different purposes through scent and texture. Cats are picky about their litter box, and this includes the litter. It may be that your cat doesn’t like it.

What To Do:

Try a different litter or two, and see if your cat prefers one litter over the other. To ensure a better litter transition, avoid litters that are scented. Cats’ olfactory senses are astonishingly powerful. Scented litters could deter your cat away from the litter box.

Bonus tip: If you have a scented candle, wax burner, or diffuser burning near the area, remove it and see if your cat uses the litter box. It could be a turn-off for your cat.

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4. Not enough litter boxes.

If you have multiple cats and one of them is pooping on the floor, you might not have enough litter boxes. The ideal ratio is one litter box per cat plus one extra. So if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes.

Having multiple cat boxes helps the cat litter stay fresher longer and avoids overcrowding. Your cat doesn’t want to step all over another cat’s waste when it has to “go.”

What To Do:

Do some cat math and figure out how many boxes you should have. Find a spot for each one and see if your cat stops pooping outside the litter box. You can place an extra litter box in the area where your cat is eliminating temporarily until your cat stops defecating outside the box.

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5. The litter box is in a bad area.

cat in a litter box
Image Credit: huoadg5888, Pixabay

The litter box could be next to a loud air vent or a high-traffic area where your cat can’t get privacy. If this is the case, it may be a way for your cat to draw the territory line. It could also be next to its food bowl. Cats don’t want to eat next to their toilet, which is understandable!

What To Do:

Observe the environment where the litter box rests, and compare it to the spot where your cat is defecating. Try moving the litter box to a place where it’s quiet and safe, and your cat can do its thing without interruption.

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6. Something scared your kitty.

In the wild, cats are most vulnerable when they use the restroom and domestic cats listen to that instinct. Your cat may feel unsafe in its litter box environment and is deciding to defecate elsewhere.

What To Do:

Move the litter box to a different area that’s free of noise. Cat owners should be wary of keeping the litter boxes in the utility room. Loud laundry machines are enough to deter your cat away from the litter box.

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7. Your cat can’t access the litter box.

cat peed in shoes
Image Credit: AJSTUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

Something could be blocking the litter box. Maybe a door shut, or another pet prevents your cat from using the box. Your cat could also be old and is now having difficulty accessing the box due to arthritis and other age-related ailments.

What To Do:

Have the litter box easily accessible for older kitties. Make sure nothing is blocking the entrance to the litter box. If you have multiple pets, see if another animal is refusing access to the litter box.

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8. Change in routine.

A change in routine can trigger inappropriate elimination outside the litter box. Changes like new pets, babies, a new home, or new people can cause a cat to feel unsure about its environment.

What To Do:

Moving the litter box to an area where your cat feels safe is a good start. Go a step further and check if your cat has a space to itself. Set up cat trees, scratchers, and toys. Create a space that your cat will know is his. If your cat is stressed, you can try the Feliway calming diffuser.

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9. Your cat could be sick.

Sick cat medicines
Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

If you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, your cat may be sick. Cats usually tell humans that something is off by misusing the litter box. Do some investigating and see if you notice any discoloration, debris, or blood in your cat’s stool.

What To Do:

A cat could misuse the litter box for many reasons due to illnesses such as diarrhea and constipation. It’s best to take your cat to a veterinarian and explain the behavior.

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How To Clean Up Cat Poop

Here’s the scoop on cleaning up your cat’s poop. Cats can sniff out an area where they’ve marked and return to that spot. Plus, if your cat has left a present on the carpet, it can stain. It would help if you cleaned up the mess as quickly and effectively as possible.

Cleaning up cat poop varies based on your floor type, but there are a few tried and true rules to cleaning up cat feces.

  • Always wear gloves: Cats can host the entire lifecycle of T. gondii, the parasite responsible for causing toxoplasmosis. To avoid contamination, always wear gloves when dealing with cat poop- or any poop for that matter!
  • Apply an enzyme-based stain and odor remover: Cleaning up the mess is the first step. Cat feces is pungent, so it will also help keep the area smelling good. Apply a stain and odor remover afterward to discourage your cat from returning to that spot. Baking Soda is a great option since it’s cheap, effective, and non-toxic to cats.

The Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray is our favorite enzyme cleaner out there. It permanently removes even the very worst kitty stains and smells, leaving your home fresh and clean! Click here to learn more about this amazing product and get yourself a bottle.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding products of this cool cat company!

Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution

cleaning carpet at home
Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

To cleanse your carpet of cat poop:

  1. Scrape off as much of the poop from the carpet as you can with something moist like a baby wipe.
  2. Mix a cleaning solution of 2 cups cold water, 1 tbsp liquid dish soap, and 1 tbsp white vinegar. Ensure the liquid dish soap doesn’t have bleach in it, so you don’t stain your carpet.
  3. After cleaning the stain, apply baking soda and sit for 10 minutes. Vacuum the baking soda afterward. For an extra cleanse, use Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover.

Keeping Your Cat Away From The Area

Place a litter box in the area where your cat likes to go. This won’t prevent your cat from using that spot, but it will encourage him to use the litter box. Try moving the litter box closer to the appropriate area slowly. Plus, you can try different litters this way.

After using a stain remover and deodorizer, apply a non-toxic scent to the area. Sometimes the chemical smell of a cleaner is enough to keep a cat away. Another option is to use scents like citrus, mints, and other intense herb aromas. You could also try a pressurized cat spray which uses motion-activated infrared to monitor movement. When a cat walks closely to an off-limits area, the pressurized can sprays, discouraging your cat from getting closer.

Cats also dislike certain textures like aluminum foil and sticky tape. You can try placing an unwanted surface on the floor to keep your cat away.

Overall, use positivity to keep your cat away from the area. Never hit your cat. This makes your cat afraid of you and doesn’t solve the issue.

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Final Thoughts

It’s stressful dealing with litter box problems. Sometimes the problem is obvious, and other times it takes some investigating to figure out its root. Try the tips we’ve given you and be patient with your cat.

Dealing with cats is like figuring out a puzzle. It takes trial and error. Remember to be patient with yourself as well.

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Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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