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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3921
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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I have an 11-yr-old male cat that outside s box about once a

Customer Question

I have an 11-yr-old male cat that poops outside his box about once a week. I think I can rule out stess-related instigation as he'll sometimes stop and do it on the way to opening a can of food -- to be fed!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Jess K replied 1 year ago.

Hello, this is Dr. Jess. I am sorry to hear about your kitty! Can you tell me how these bowel movements look? Are they loose or firmer/dryer than usual? Or do they just look like normal stool? Does your kitty have any trouble getting around, like jumping on furniture, etc.?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The bowel movements almost always look normal. Solid/firm until the very end where it gets softer.His "incontinence" started when he was about 5 when he urinated/defacated -- which turned out to be a "sign" of UTI. For the next 3-4 years, he got a UTI and "misbehaved". My vet said he associated pain with the litter box. After that, I was always quick to have him tested when he had accidents (about annually). Then I moved to my mother's after divorce.We lived separately in the basement where the ODD pooping behavior started. That's when I'd see him disappear during morning feeding...only to poop outside his box -- then hide. Testing showed this behavior wasn't a result of UTI any more. And, there were never any pets that lived in that basement. (Though a small dog was upstairs. He never acted like the dog bothered him.)Tigger is a large "Maine-coon" mix who's weighed between 15-17lbs his whole life. Smaller, more frequent meals seemed to lower his weight -- like humans are recommended to do. He's been around 15 for 5 years...since the ODD behavior started.I bought a new house and moved in 1.5 years ago. I had a female roommate that wasn't "big" on cats. Mostly she just ignored him...though she did feed him for the first few months. She also got up early than me....which meant he was begging from her. And...she'd wake me up every couple of weeks to say my cat had pooped in the house.Now, she is gone -- as is all of her belongings. I think any possibility of her being a stressor has vanished -- unless he was somehow "traumatized" from her loud demeanor. I kind of doubt it since the behavior preceeded her and the house.Since she moved out, he's continued the bi-weekly pooping. And, it's been DURING feeding time too many times. Twice, I've seen him pooping at his dish. His dishes are in my Master and have been for months. I removed him from my former remate to determine if she was the cause. I continue to feed him in my master though she's gone. His litter box is in my master bathroom so I can't forget to scoop it.Almost everytime I change his litter, he poops somewhere else...then goes back to using his box. Every time he's "bad", I say "bad kitty" several times, and lock him in the bathroom -- with his box -- for a couple of hours. By now, he KNOWS I don't like the behavior because he puts HIMSELF in timeout when he's bad now.My vet insists it's behavior with Prozac as the only treatment. But, I just can't understand stress/behavior causing him to run off and poop WHILE being fed. This cat LOVES dinner time. He KNOWS what "Should we feed the kitty?" means? The only other thing that seems consistent is pooping out of the box early in the day...though I've seen him poop around the clock.Tigger is an indoor-only cat and has always been a house-cat. The only medical problem with Tigger is occular Herpes which started after his pooping behavior. I give Tigger Prednisone eye drops on a regular basis. Twice weekly when inactive. 2-3 times/day when active. His condition remains "managed" though it finally spread to the other eye a few months ago. Since then, it seems like I need to give him drops more often. Basically, I'm having to drop him once/daily to keep it under control. My vet says this is unrelated to the other problem.My vet maintains behavior is the only possible solution. No active UTI and he's had the normal blood tests to check for normal body function. I've only had his poop tested once/twice but it didn't reveal anything either...except that he occasionally eats small amounts of real/artificial houseplants. LOL Seriously...I don't even have those anymore.It's a long-shot to try another vet -- but I wanted to try since my own vet seems unwilling to think outside the box anymore. After several years of this behavior, I'm getting tired of having my house be the back-up cat box. The good news is poop is MUCH easier to clean then urine. There's NO way I would have tolerated the later for this long.My cat is "close" to me. He follows me around all the time, likes me, and we are "pals". I have never mistreated him -- except to "scold" him when bad. My vet thinks that's useless because you can't "fight" cat behavior. I'm not sure he's a huge feline fan. :-)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh yeah...I have heard him howl during these "bouts" a couple of times. Not sure if it's him "knowing" he's in trouble or possibly even pain? But, the bowel movements don't seem hard/big enough to be constipation. And...if it were, why stop/drop in the middle of an excited dash to the kitchen?I didn't mention that he has (ProPlan turkey-based) dry food at his disposal all day long. He's never done well on chicken-based foods so, I've always fed him Turkey and fish proteins...which is what the can foods are. He gets a teaspoon 3-4 times/day on top of the dry food (and water).
Expert:  Jess K replied 1 year ago.

Hello there, I apologize I was offline for a time here, but am reading through your information now. Has he ever had any x-rays done of his abdomen? And has your vet done a rectal exam on him? Or talked about potentially switching his diet to see if this makes a difference ( I would consider a trial of low-residue diet, your vet likely carries one made by Iams; and if not difference there, then consider a higher fiber diet or a fiber supplement added to the food)? The fact that he sometimes vocalizes when having these accidents makes me wonder if he is having pain or discomfort for some reason. I would want to look and be sure there wasn't a structural abnormality (x-ray and rectal exam) or an intestinal discomfort (diet trial) as the problem. It is possible that this behavior has been going on for so long that there could be a psychological component that could require a medication like Prozac, at least temporarily (have you ever tried him on one of these medications, or on the alternative type treatments for anxiety such as Feliway pheromone diffusers?).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't believe my vet has done x-rays or a rectal exam. I'm sure he believes this is behavioral though I've never gotten an explanation for sudden accidents DURING feeding. It just seems SO odd! I COULD understand accidents while living in a house with another dog (though isolated) or because of a less-than-friendly female roommate...or even jealousy. But to continue them w/o the need to mark and during feeding?Low ash and/or low-residue diets (as most other specialty diets) are chicken-based. I've considered many of those options (and tried a few) until I figured out he doesn't process chicken well. (On chicken, he throws-up and has diarrhea fairly often.)My vet said male cats can mark using feces versus urine. And, that he's marking. That contradicts the original diagnosis of avoiding his litter box due to association with UTI pain -- which isn't as common anymore.Even if he has some pain during defecation, can you think of a reason that DOING IT, would be triggered while being so excited ON THE WAY to get fed? He doesn't have where's the urgency?I've tried giving him fresh water MORE often and feeding him more (wet) canned food -- in case he was slightly constipated.Still not getting to the reason for the timing though. Or...why he's OK 13 of 14 days...then bam. I guess...if it was medical, it should be more consistent. If it's behavioral, the odd manner eludes me.