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Cher
Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21157
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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My cat who we adopted from a shelter8 months ago has just

Customer Question

My cat who we adopted from a shelter8 months ago has just started pooping in different rooms of the house. Her favorite room is next to where her litter box is. She was completely box trained from the moment we got her. She was afraid of everyone and hid for the first 3 months and now comes into the room but will not let you touch her. She is around 4 years old and had been in different shelters for 2 years that we know about.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Cher replied 8 months ago.

Hello, and welcome.

My apologies that you did not receive an earlier answer. Different experts are online at various times and I recently logged in and was notified of your question. Your patience is greatly appreciated!

Belated congratulations on your new furry addition! It sounds like this poor girl had a hard go of it, in the past. If you won't mind, I have just a few questions that will allow me to assist you better:

What is her name?

Is she spayed?

Are her stools normal in color and consistency?

Is she using the box for urination with no problem?

Is she eating and drinking as usual?

What type of box do you have? Covered or uncovered?

What kind of litter are you using?

Have there been any changes in your lifestyle (hours at home, etc.) or her environment, recently? Any visitors (human and/or pet)? Any new carpet, appliances, furniture, arrangement of furniture?

Thanks for all your additional information and after you reply, please allow me some time to read it over, compose and send your detailed answer.

Warmest regards,

Cher

Expert:  Cher replied 8 months ago.

Hello again,

I was hoping to hear back from you, but I can send your answer now and then, if you have any other questions about this situation, please don't hesitate to ask.

It sounds, from your description, that your furry girl is very sensitive and timid. She seems to have had a difficult start in life, living in different shelters and elsewhere. I'm glad she ended up with you, in a loving, caring home! If she is sensitive, any slight change in her or your routine or environment may stress her and this may be why she began soiling outside the litterbox. However, first, it must be determined that this is not due to an underlying medical problem. Sometimes, cats who feel pain or have a problem defecating, will associate the place of elimination with this discomfort and choose to 'go' elsewhere. If her stools are not of normal color and/or consistency, she may have diarrhea, constipation or even intestinal parasites. A vet visit would be a good idea at this point, just to rule out anything medical and make sure this is purely a behavioral problem. If a medical cause is found, it will be treated.

Let's hope all is well, medically, and something stressed her and caused her to start defecating outside the litterbox. Cats are very sensitive to change and something that seems very minor to you (like changing the configuration of the furniture or having visitors) may cause her stress/anxiety. She also may be exhibiting litterbox aversion, due to the placement of the box. If it is in a well-trafficked area of the house, perhaps near a noisy appliance, this can be a deterrent to her using the box, as well, even though she had no problem with it in the past.

With 1 cat, you should have 2 boxes and they should be open, not covered, and use non-scented litter. You can use 'Cat Attract' litter in her entire box, or just add some to her current litter. As an alternative, you can buy 'Cat Attract' litter 'additive', which is a different product, and add that to her current litter. Make sure her boxes are scooped all the time and add new litter as needed. Once a month, empty it completely and wash in mild soap with warm water with some baking soda added to it. This will help to get rid of the odors that are trapped in the plastic of the box, but, as I'm sure you know, some will still remain. It's plastic, after all and a porous material. Still, monthly cleaning will help. Cat attract products are available in pet supply stores or can be ordered online.

To help with stress/anxiety and the inappropriate elimination, FELIWAY is a great product. It comes in both a plug-in diffuser and a spray; the plug-ins emit cat calming pheromones which have no scent to humans--only cats can detect it. Feliway is available in all major pet supply stores and you can also order online. Here is more information:

http://www.feliway.com/us

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It's also possible that she smells some stray cats outside and is territorially marking, which is usually done with urine, but can be done with feces, as well; it's instinctive. If you do notice any strays or even a neighbor cat hanging around your house, spray the door frames of doors leading to the outside and also spray (with Feliway) the window frames/window sills inside, with it. You might also spray these areas outside, but, of course, if it rains, it will be washed away. When you spray inside, don't allow your cat access to the area for 30 minutes, until it's completely dry.

It's very important that you clean the areas where she soils, well, to remove all stains and odors so she doesn't return to the same places. Use an enzyme based cleaner like Nature's miracle, Zero Odor, Odor Mute or many others, available in your pet supply store and sometimes, Walmart carries these types of cleaners. After you clean, allow to dry and then spray a light mist of Feliway over the spot (again, allow to dry completely) and this will make her think she has already 'marked' there, so she won't return.

Try to keep things as calm as possible for her and when you find she has soiled outside the box, put her feces in the box and show her it's there--let her smell it and say gently, this is where you go poop-or whatever words you like. Leave it there for a day before scooping it.

When you get your additional litterbox (I'm assuming you only have 1 at this time), try placing it in the room next door to the one where her other box is, and where she is pooping; let's see if that makes a difference.

I hope you found my answer helpful and things will improve with your furry girl, soon!

As I mentioned, if you need any additional information, just click 'reply' and I will be glad to continue.

Please take a moment to rate my answer with positive feedback, so I may receive credit from the site for my time and assistance. Thank you very much!

Warmest regards,

Cher

Expert:  Cher replied 8 months ago.

Hello again,

I'm just checking in with you to make sure you received my response, if you found it helpful and if you have any additional questions. Please let me know.

Thanks,

Cher