8-year-old female housesoiling

Our question this week was:

I have a problem that maybe you can help with. I have 6 cats — I know, too many!! One of them, an 8-year-old female has taken to depositing a pile of poop outside of the potty pan. She pees in the pan, but will not use the pan for pooping. This has been going on for several years, but is getting worse, just about every day now. And now, I want to get new carpet!!

And she has blood in her stool. We are giving her pred every other day for that. I personally think it is anxiety since she is a “scardy cat”, always has been. I know she feels dominated, as my other cats are all more verbal, etc. than she is. And one of them, a female rag-a-muffin is definitely the queen of the troop! A brat, but so gorgeous and loving to me!! Anyway, is there any way I can break her of this nasty, nasty habit?

Gretchen Froehler Austin, Texas


Hi – thanks for your email. Your email indicated that you have a multi-cat household and one cat is defecating outside of the litter box with increasing frequency. It sounds like she has an underlying medical problem that you are treating with prednisone – does she have inflammatory bowel disease?

I guess we have a couple questions – first – is it a medical problem or behavioral? And second, how can you stop it?

Let’s start with the first question. Is it medical or behavioral? My gut feeling is that it is behavioral however I really don’t know. It could even be a combination. If she is still having blood in her stools, her disease may not be well controlled. It may be worth taking her in for an evaluation with your veterinarian to ensure that her disease treatment is optimized. Sometime increasing the prednisone or changing the diet can benefit some cats.

If it is medical, optimizing her medical treatment may help. If it is behavioral….then that is more difficult. Especially if she is the “scardy” cat. If it is behavioral, I’d recommend making sure you have enough litter boxes and she feels “safe” when she goes and not threatened by your dominant cats. I know it sounds crazy but if you have 8 cats, you should have 9 litter boxes. Some cats defecate outside of the litterbox to “mark” territory and as their own form of dominance. If her medical checkup turns out fine, you may consider behavioral drugs as a last resort.

I hate to say it but another option: Don’t replace the carpet in the litterbox room.

An article that might be helpful to you is on our Petplace.com Inappropriate Elimination in Cats. Also, this article on Normal Elimination Behavior in cats may be interesting.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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