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purrdoc, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1053
Experience:  feline-only vet for 11 years
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My cat has been pooping on the carpet. His box is clean, we

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My cat has been pooping on the carpet. His box is clean, we changed his food to digestive health, no table scraps, changed litter companies (does like the new one better) gave him amoxicillan, and tried metronidazole to no avail. We even tried a kenalog shot which helped in the past. He seemed to be doing better, then we awoke to vomit and poop on the carpet this am.
Hello and thanks for the question. I would be glad to help you.

How long has this been going on?
How many cats do you have?
How many litter boxes?
Do they have a cover on them?
Do you use scoopable litter?
Are the stools normal or soft?
How often does he vomit?
Where is he pooping in relation to the litter box location?
What brand of food do you feed? Dry or canned?

Thanks and I will look for your reply.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
It happened once before about a year ago, after we had done some remodeling, so we thought it was stress related. Then it just started again, the end of August. We have this cat, Guido, and a kitten. They get along great, and the problem started again before we got the kitten. We have 3 litter boxes, one covered, 2 not. He used the covered one fine, and the kitten has her own in a different room. When this did not resolve with meds, I added an uncovered box with different litter, and he has used it well. He has pooped in the box recently, and I go all excited. When he poops on the carpet, it is in the living room, away from the box. When on the carpet, stools are soft, but usually formed. This is the first day we saw vomit, and it was food, not hairball. He is currently eating Iams dry "digestive health" food. He was eating Nutripet (like Iams and Science diet), but I changed it in Sept when he started up again,. I had changed him to this last year when he had the problem too. Thanks!
Thanks for the additional information.

First of all, if the stools are normal, pooping outside the box is always a behavioral issue, usually something about the box that they find unacceptable.

However, if the stools aren't normal (soft, etc), it is more likely a medical issue.

Since you mentioned his stools are soft, I would highly recommend you change his diet to a low carb, high protein diet. The current feeding recommendations for cats is mostly canned food and one of these low carb varieties. The problems with most dry cat foods on the market is that they are very high in grain content (corn, rice, soy, or wheat). These are very low quality ingredients for a cat who is a strict carnivore. All they do is allow the pet food companies a higher profit margin but they aren't food for cats as a species and can cause digestive issues.

I am going to attach two info sheets in my next postings that explain the foods that cats should be eating and also an info sheet on how to reduce stress in multi cat special attention to the section on litter box recommendations.

If after reading these, you still have questions, just let me know. Thank you!
How To Keep Your Indoor Cat Healthy-Emotionally and Physically

We all want what is absolutely best for our cats. This is exactly why many of us have chosen to keep our cats indoors at all times. This does ensure their safety by reducing the chance of injury and disease, but there are also health risks associated with this lifestyle.

Cats in the wild are very active day to day and are mentally stimulated on a continual basis by their surroundings. This is very different from how the typical indoor cat lives. Lack of exercise and minimal mental stimulation causes physical and emotional stress. Science has found a connection between chronic stress and disease in humans as well as in pets.

The typical indoor, well-loved cat may not seem to be under stress…or are they? Chronic stress is thought to play a role in some of the common inflammatory diseases of cats such as interstitial cystitis (sterile inflammation of the bladder) and inflammatory bowel disease (chronic vomiting or diarrhea). We recommend that you enrich the home environment of your cat. These positive changes will help replace the stimulation, activity, complexity, and choices that outdoor cats enjoy day to day.

There are 5 categories of basic life needs that all cats have:

1. Territory
2. Food/Water
3. Sleeping Area
4. Entertainment/exercise
5. Litter box

1. Territory is of utmost importance to most cats, especially if they share the house with other pets. Even though some cats are very social, they are independent creatures by nature and need a space of their own where they feel safe. Competition among cats in the same house is one of the most common causes for behavioral problems such as urine spraying, defecating or urinating outside the litter box, hair pulling, destructive scratching, eating or chewing on abnormal items, etc.
Each cat should have his or her own space, complete with a separate litter box, separate feeding station, and a separate space to spend time or sleep. Even though some cats may be ok with sharing space, you still need to provide this option.
In multiple cat households, the use of Feliway can help reduce stress, as can the holistic calming product, Rescue Remedy. Feliway is a facial pheromone (scent molecule) that is considered to be a ‘friendly’ scent to cats. It comes in a spray and plug-in unit. Rescue Remedy is a flower extract that can be added to drinking water or used directly on your cat.

2. Cats in the wild hunt for their food. This is where they get most of their exercise as well as their water requirements. By keeping cats indoors, we have created a situation where they must only walk into the next room to eat. They no longer have to work for their food and are much more sedentary than their outside counterparts. They tend to consume too many calories for their activity level. This can be from the overfeeding of treats, free choice feeding (bowl is never empty), boredom, eating high carbohydrate foods (most common brands), competition for food resources, or all of these. Cats in the wild may eat up to 20 small meals in a day. But they watch, listen, stalk, jump, chase, and pounce for every meal. We currently recommend a diet of mainly canned food to help ensure they get enough moisture and protein. Of course, having fresh water available at all times is still critical. Many cats prefer moving water. This can be offered in the form of a fountain or fish tank bubbler placed in a bowl. Most dry foods are very high in carbohydrates (grains), which are not the ideal nutrient source for cats. You can read more about the recommendations for feeding cats at

3. Cats need a sleeping space that is quiet and safe. Many cats like to be alone when they sleep, either curled up in or under something or often up high where they are safe and can watch their surroundings. Providing a choice of sleeping areas is ideal. Let your cat choose. If your cat chooses somewhere to sleep, there is probably a reason…try to be accommodating if at all possible. Sometimes this means having cat beds as part of the décor. Cats have a sleep and wake cycle that constantly fluctuates. In the wild, cats hunt several times daily. Thus, to maintain this activity level, they must nap often. It is ideal to provide a number of suitable and attractive napping spots. This will help keep them happy.

4. Many indoor cats are lacking in exercise and entertainment. It is not only important in maintaining physical health, but staying active is healthy for their emotional state as well. Luckily, this is easy to encourage. Scratching posts or climbing areas are desirable to most cats for several reasons. They need a place to scratch. Scratching not only helps remove old nail but it provides for full body stretches, muscle flexing, and is a means of physical marking as well as scent marking. It is important to offer your cat a variety of scratching options. Try both horizontal and vertical scratching toys as well as different substrates such as sisal rope, carpet, cardboard, and wood.
The marking cats do while scratching is important to understand. It is a normal behavior. They mark trees in the wild to let other cats know the boundaries of their territory. If you have a scratching post in the spare bedroom, your cat won’t be as apt to use it regularly. It needs to become part of the décor in the busy part of the house. Cats like to scratch and stretch as soon as they wake up, so placing a scratching post near their favorite sleeping spot can increase compliance.
Multiple perches near windows will encourage more jumping and movement during the day. Provide access to shelving or bookcases if possible. Cats have a natural tendancy to want to watch their surroundings while feeling safe and hidden at the same time. Plant some flowers that attract bees and butterflies outside windows or install a planter box. Consider a bird feeder, birdbath, or squirrel feeder also.
You can feed your cat up off the ground to encourage jumping to get to it’s meal. If your cat has arthritis, make sure it can still comfortably reach the bowl. Changing the location of the food dish on a regular basis will help keep them active and it forces them to “hunt”. If feasible, try to hide small portions of your cat’s food around the home on a daily basis. A play-n-treat feeding ball is a fun toy that cats must chase and knock about in order for kibble to be released. It can increase your cat’s activity level and stimulate the mind.
Playing with your cat is the best form of exercise and will stimulate them mentally. There are videos you can play during the day that are designed just for cats. Play some soothing music while you are away. Cats get bored with toys easily, so make sure you rotate the toys every 1-2 weeks. Don’t offer the whole collection at once. Some easy and cost effective toys to add to the rotation would be: paper grocery bags to play in, large cardboard boxes filled with crumpled paper to hide in, rolled up paper or tinfoil or tape, plastic milk rings, paper q-tips, catnip stuffed socks. Interactive things that involve both play and exercise include dragging a long shoelace on the floor, laser light pointers (never point at eyes), hang a toy from the doorknob(s), throw dry kibble across the floor as a treat, toss a ball across a hard floor surface, treat balls, playing hide-n-seek with your cat, a ping pong ball in the bathtub, or non-toxic cat bubbles.
Many cats like to chew on grass or houseplants. Offering a source of greens to chew on can help with this natural desire and is safe. Catnip, catmint, or wheat grass can all be purchased or grown indoors. We recommend organic to reduce the exposure to pesticides. Remember that greens are not a nutritional requirement and may make some cats vomit.
Some people introduce their cats to a harness, which allows them to be outdoors in the fresh air but under supervision and safe. Remember to consider flea control during the summer months if needed.
You may want to consider adopting a companion cat if you have only one. This can help provide company and a playmate. Slow introduction is important to make the new addition work.

5. In the wild, cats void in a new, clean spot every time. The litter boxes we provide are not at all like what they would choose outdoors in their natural environment. The goal is to make sure the cat box is the most attractive place so they will not be tempted to go somewhere else in the house. Attractiveness to a cat includes cleanliness, safety, and convenience. There are some basic rules to follow to help keep your cat happy. Following these will help prevent behavioral issues such as urine marking or defecating outside the box.

a. Have a minimum of one box per cat and at least one box per level of house.
b. Place the boxes in separate locations around the house to provide options
c. Use unscented, scoopable litter, preferably low dust.
d. Don’t place the box near noisy appliances or air ducts
e. Scoop the box at least 1x daily and clean the entire box every 1-2 weeks with unscented soap and water, not disinfectants or cleaning products.
f. Litter box covers trap odors inside and may make your cat feel trapped so remove them.
g. Offer the largest boxes possible. We prefer plastic storage containers to actual cat boxes.
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High Protein/ Low Carbohydrate (grain-free) diets

Nutritionally speaking, cats are “obligate carnivores”. This means they need very high levels of protein to thrive and don’t have a very good ability for utilizing carbohydrates (grains, sugars). Cats also need some nutrients that can only be obtained from animal tissue, not plants. By ancestry, cats are descendents of desert cats (African wild cat, F. lybica). This is why they have very concentrated urine and don’t need to drink as much as other species of similar size. In the wild, cats hunt primarily small rodents and birds as prey. All these creatures are about 70% moisture. This is how cats in the wild get most of their water requirements.

Now let’s think about what we typically feed our cats over their lifetime. They usually get most of their food in the form of dry kibble. Some people feed canned food but rarely exclusively. This traditional way of feeding cats presents two major problems as discussed below.

First, most of the common brands of cat foods are full of carbohydrates in the form of grains (corn, rice, soy, wheat). As “obligate carnivores”, cats aren’t designed to use high levels of carbohydrates for nutrition. Cats specifically do not have the enzymes in their liver or saliva that are optimal to process carbohydrates. Their mouths, teeth, digestive tracts, pancreas, and liver are specifically designed for a high protein diet. So why are most pet food companies putting so many grains (carbohydrates) into cat food? The answers could be many including convenience, larger profit margins, or the mistaken conception that cats are small dogs. When reading the ingredient label on food, a meat source is usually listed first but this doesn’t mean the diet is high protein. If the next several ingredients are a form of grain (listed above), this is a high carbohydrate food. Plants do contain protein, but for an obligate carnivore like cats, this is a lower quality protein. Animal based proteins have biologic values (a measure of usability) ranging from 100% (egg) to 78% (beef). Plant based proteins range from 67% (soybean) to 45% (corn).

What does a carbohydrate loaded diet mean in the long run to your cat? High carbohydrates can predispose to obesity, just like in people. Diabetes is common in cats and high carbohydrate diets and obesity are known to be risk factors. Obesity also leads to arthritis. Add to this scenario the typical spoiled, well-loved cat that doesn’t have to “hunt” for its food, and you have a sedentary lifestyle that also increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. It is known that a high carbohydrate diet actually changes the ph level and thus the bacterial types that grow in the mouth and digestive tracts. This change in bacterial content can lead to intestinal problems in some cats. Grains can be a source of allergies for some cats too.

The second problem a dry diet creates is a potentially dehydrated cat. Wild cats get most of their moisture from the prey they eat (mouse=70% water). The average dry food is only 10% water. Most feline practitioners and internal medicine specialists are now recommending an exclusively canned diet since the moisture in canned food most closely mimics their natural prey. It is thought that the lack of moisture in dry diets can contribute to urinary tract disease such as cystitis, crystals, and stones.

Many people have been told canned food is bad for teeth and can lead to dental disease. This is only partially true. Although canned food can leave more residue on the teeth than dry food, dry food does virtually nothing to help keep the teeth clean. It would be the equivalent of your dentist telling you it is ok to eat crunchy cookies to help clean your teeth. There are a few dental diets on the market that do a better job at scraping plaque off the teeth, but they are high carbohydrate and are only minimally effective at actual cleaning. The real reason for dental disease is lack of daily care. Obviously it is difficult to get a cat to accept daily tooth brushing, but there are some “cat friendly” options available. Your veterinarian can advise you on these products.

**So what should your cat eat for optimal health? The more moisture your cat receives, the better. If your cat loves canned food and you don’t mind feeding it exclusively, it is currently thought to be the best option as it mimics their moisture requirement. Grain-free canned food is the lowest in carbohydrates. If your cat refuses to eat canned food, the grain free dry foods are still the best option nutritionally. Many cats will accept the dry food with some water added. It is imperative to have fresh water available at all times.

It is important to realize there is no such thing as the perfect pet food. Changing brands every once and a while or mixing brands may help ensure your cat gets the best each company has to offer. It is also good to offer variety so we don’t train our cats to become finicky eaters. There are many grain free dry and canned foods on the market. High protein levels may not be advisable for select medical conditions. Please talk to your veterinarian regarding the recommendations for your cat.

For more information, visit

High Protein/Low-carbohydrate (no grain) food data sheet

Canned food: Before Grain (not meant for exclusive feeding)
Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Innova Evo
Newman’s Own Grain Free
Wellness Core
Wellness Grain Free
Best Feline Friend

Dry food: Taste of the Wild
Before Grain
Indigo Moon
Wellness Core
Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Innova Evo

*canned food ranges from 30-40 calories/oz with little variation between brands.

* dry food varies widely in calories and is ranked lowest to highest above

**Most cats need about 200calories/24 hours. This is about 1 tuna sized can per day per cat. To figure 200 calories of dry food, check the bag for calorie content/cup or contact the company

More information can be found at these companies websites

When making any diet change, transition slowly by mixing old food with new food, preferably 50/50 to start, then gradually wean off old diet.

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