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Why Does my Cat Poop Outside the Box?


Question: Why Does my Cat Poop Outside the Box?

My cat "Willy" is about 16 years old and been my only companion since my wife passed away from cancer. About 6 months ago, Willy started going to the bath room outside the litter box.

However, he always urinates in the litter box only the other outside it. For a long time he went right near the litter box but now goes other places. I have no idea what to do. He is an inside cat and has never been outside. I just don't understand why he urinates in the box all the time but does the other outside of the box.

Any help you can give me would be very much appreciated.


I'm sure you feel close to Willy, since the loss of your wife, and I can appreciate your concern about his change in litter box habits. There could be a few causes, however, because of Willy's age, and the fact that the problem started suddenly, I'd like you to address the most important one first. Willy could be having bowel problems, such as diarrhea, impacted anal glands, constipation or IBD, and associate the resultant discomfort and pain with his litter box. So the first item on your agenda is to take Willy to your veterinarian for an examination to rule out health problems. At his age, Willy should be examined every six months, so if he isn't already, this would be a good time to start that schedule. Second item to consider: Were there any changes in your household routine around the time this behavior started? Cats are creatures of habit, and things like rearranging furniture or switching to a different litter box or cat litter could also affect Willy's litter box habits.

Other Reasons Cats Might Poop Outside the Box

  • Stress and Anxiety
    Something so seemingly innocuous as his seeing a new cat outside the window could trigger the behavioral change. And since cats commonly leave their poop uncovered in the wild, leaving it outside the box could send a clear signal.
  • Some Cats Prefer Separate Boxes for Poop and Pee
    It could be that Willy has gotten fussy in his old age. Also, the rule of thumb for litter boxes is One + One, i.e., one box per cat plus one extra. In your case, that would mean two boxes for your cat.

Finally, I'd like for you to read some related articles by Amy Shojai, former Contributing Writer for this site. Although they are not all exactly the same as Willy's problem, you may pick up some useful related information.

Best of luck with Willy, and please let me know how everything turns out for him.

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