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petdrz, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7335
Experience:  Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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My cat urinates in the litter box but is defecating in the

Customer Question

my cat urinates in the litter box but is defecating in the house on rugs on hardwood floors under recliners I have two cats and they are brothers I had him to the vet about 6 months ago because he was sraying on couches and I was told it was because I had changed the type of litter and when I changed to the previous litter he stopped but he was defacating in the new litter and the older litter at the time and now its the opposite problem
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and Vito today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy work with you.
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
Do you only have the 2 cats? Are they indoor only or they allowed outdoors as well?
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
How many litterboxes totally do you have in the house?Are the stools consistently formed and normal in appearance?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have 2 cats they are brothers I have 2 litter boxes they have never been outside cats
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the reply.
While cats can develop a litter box aversion at any age due to various causes, his previous spraying issues (vertical urination)is usually a marking behavior and more a sign of anxiety. So, to be complete and stand the best chance of resolving this behavior, you really need to address all possible reasons he may have developed this behavior.
First you need to make sure you take any medical issues out of the picture. Make sure your vet has checked a urine sample and a stool sample and maybe even culture it to look for bacteria. Make note if the stools are consistently formed or if there is any blood or mucus present in the sample. As far as the urine, often there can be abnormalities that are not noted with the naked eye and a urinalysis can offer a great deal of information. Cats are unique in that they will often associate discomfort with passing urine or stool with the litter box and then develop an aversion to the box because of it. Odds are that they are be normal, but if there is any abnormality at all, you will never get this under control.
Once a medical condition is eliminated, or if Vito is found to be free of disease, then you can focus on getting him back to the box for both urine and stool. The goal is to make the litter boxes the most attractive place in the house and the other spots less attractive. The general rule of thumb is to have one more litter pan than you have cats. Since you have 2 cats, you should have at least 3 litter boxes. You can have them two of them side by side if need be, but it is better to have at least one in a different area of the house.
Some cats develop a preference of one for stool and one for urine. Maybe try one covered and one uncovered to find his preference. Clumping litters seem to be preferred by most cats because it is soft. It also allows you to keep it cleaner as there shouldn't be a wet bottom. You may need to experiment with different litters different types of boxes (short sided, tall sided, etc) You must scoop daily! Cat's are very texture specific so look at the places he is choosing to go. If it is a carpet, you may want to put a piece of scrap carpeting in a litter box for him and slowly add more litter as he starts to use it or place it nearby the litter box. There is also a litter box additive called Cat Attract® which works very well.
You may have already tried these, but they are suggestions that have helped many of my clients and myself. Litter pan hygiene is key. This is all to help with the problem of the inappropriate urine and stools that is more likely a substrate preference or litter box aversion. The spraying (vertical urination) is usually a marking behavior and more a sign of anxiety.
When dealing with anxiety in a multi cat house, it is best to try to identify the source of the anxiety. Even if there has never been a problem with the tow cats before, things can change as they age or he may be feeling anxious about cats he may be seeing outside of the house or other changes to the household. We have to strive to provide an environment where all cats are able to find a place where they feel "safe". That begins by creating an environment of "plenty." There should be plenty of litter boxes, food bowls, climbing towers, toys and resting areas in multiple locations. All the litter boxes and food bowls cannot be clumped all in one place because that forces the cats together. If that is not possible due to the layout of your home, another option is to create a time sharing plan. One cat is out in the house for a bit, then put into a room and other is then allowed out.
Next, you want to make the other spots unattractive or unavailable, confinement is one way. Maybe keep him from the places it is occurring if possible, especially when you are not home, unless that is where the litter boxes are. Enzyme products are needed to break down the odor causing components of the urine. There are a few products that work very well to do that: Nature's Miracle®, Anti-icky poo® or Zero odor®. Deterrents are needed after that. Carpet runners (with plastic spikes) turned upside down work great for large areas. There are also "scat mats" which give off a small electrical charge. These are not harmful to him. Another option is an indoor invisible fence to keep him (or both of them) out of certain areas of the house. They are very effective. LINK HERE:
One thing I would suggest is a product called Feliway®.
Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural chemicals that a cat secretes. It creates a comforting, reassuring feeling that has a calming effect. It has been shown to decrease marking and spraying within 30 days with a 95% success rate. It is also calming to cats in stressful situations such as transport, hospitalization, veterinarian visits, boarding, new environments, pets or people. Feliway® is a product that can be sprayed or used as a room diffuser. It can be purchased through veterinarians and pet stores. I would definitely put a few of these around the house.
There are drugs that can be tried, but I would try the other things first. Even if you have to resort to drug therapy for a while, these are changes that should be incorporated at the same time. Anti-anxiety meds such as Prozac have been shown to effectively reduce urine spraying.
This is a hard subject to cover adequately in a few paragraphs. I am including a link that may give you a few more ideas. Work with your veterinarian who should have experience with this also as this is a very common problem, but can be solved in many cases. I am also including links to two different sites that offer suggestions to provide environmental enrichment for indoor cats. This has become a very important subject as we have now identified that many cat behavior and medical disorders stem from the fact that they are confined indoors and forced to share territory with other cats, which is not how cats naturally choose to live. This "stress" can lead to physical and behavioral problems.
Feline house soiling:
OSU Indoor Pet Initiative:
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please reply so I can clarify for you.
Dr Z