How to Stop a Cat From Pooping on the Carpet

Your cat is adorable, and she loves you. She'll even bring you a small gift every once in a while, perhaps depositing a dead rodent at your feet. Rodents are bad enough. But some might say that poop is even worse, at least when it's not deposited in the litter box.

White cat under the table
How to Stop a Cat From Pooping on the Carpet
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What to do if your cat is suddenly turning her nose up at the box you've provided for her? Fortunately, you're not without recourse, but it all begins with figuring out why your feline prefers the carpet all of a sudden.

Cat pooping on the floor

A handful of health concerns can have your cat pooping outside the litter box, so it only makes sense to rule them out first.

If he's an older cat and has a long history of going where he's supposed to, but that suddenly changes, he might be in pain. It could be a matter of arthritis or constipation. He might begin associating the pain with the litter box if he's struggling to eliminate, and this could make your cat start pooping on the floor.

Some medical conditions can make even young cats reluctant to — or unable to — get into that box. A urinary tract infection might be the culprit, although this usually convinces a cat that it's easier to both poop and pee outside the box. Inflammatory bowel disease also commonly causes a cat to stop using the litter box. It hurts to go, so he'll simply go whenever and wherever he can to get it over with.

In either case, a visit to the vet can rule these things out.

About that cat food…

Even if your cat has been eating the same food for eons, this doesn't mean that it still agrees with her, especially if she's getting up in years. And if you've recently bought another brand of cat food — maybe it was on sale, or someone recommended it — the change could easily prompt different bowel habits and have your cat pooping on the carpet.

Is your cat stressed?

Cats really tend to dislike change, and this is a common cause of litter box distrust.

Is something about your home different lately? Keep in mind that it might be something you're not even aware of. Maybe a stray has taken to peering in your windows at night. This could easily cause your cat to change his previously tidy habits because he's feeling invaded, defensive, and just plain unhappy over the nocturnal visitor.

Try to pinpoint the date when your cat suddenly decided the litter box wasn't much to his liking after all. Did your routine change about that time? Did you buy a new sofa or other items of furniture? Have you found a new friend who visits your home periodically? Yikes! These could all be cat killers! Too many cat killers can have your cat pooping on the rug.

It’s about location, location, location

Where exactly is this litter box that your cat prefers not to use? Have you placed it in the basement or some other remote corner of the house because you don't like looking at it? If you're finding poop deposits in common areas of the house, it might be that your cat just wants to be where her family and the action are. She might not want to travel to some distant corner to do her business.

But it works both ways. Maybe you've placed the litter box in a busy area of your home, and she's going down to the basement to poop. Cats tend to like their privacy when it comes to these matters. Yes, they'll come into the bathroom and stare at you when you're going, but that's you. They don't want to be subjected to the same treatment.

If his box is in the closet or some other tight, relatively hidden location, or if it's one of those with a lid over the top, he might worry that he's going to get trapped in there at a time when he's least able to fight back. It can be a good idea to give a fussy cat multiple options — litter boxes in as many rooms as you can tolerate — particularly if you have other pets who might ambush him in a weak moment.

Some cats find it distasteful to poop and pee in the same place. Try placing two litter boxes side-by-side or at least in the same room so he can keep his business separate if he's urinating in the box but pooping beside it.

Keep in mind, too, that cats generally do not like to sleep, eat and poop all in the same limited area. You might consider moving the litter box some distance from his food, water bowl, and bed.

Scoop, then scoop some more

Cats are fastidious, and they can become even more so as they get older. Cat experts recommend that you scoop the litter once a day at the very least. Twice a day is better. And change it completely at least once a week, washing the box out with hot water and soap when it's empty.

The problem could also be the type of litter you're using or the amount you're putting in her box. Some cats like just a little while others prefer a lot. Try changing it up to see if this brings about any results. You might also want to change the box itself. If it has high sides, purchase one with low sides or vice versa.

Your problem might be one of these issues or a combination. Cats can be quirky. Sometimes all you can do is keep changing things up until your cat gives a sigh of relief and steps into the litter box; then you'll know you've finally gotten it right.