If you’re curious about whether or not your cat having pooped on the floor for the first time is cause for concern, I would say one hundred per cent a resounding yes, but it may not be a serious concern particularly, it’s just something definitely needs to be sorted out.
The cause for why cats do this is incredibly varied, and I’ll get into the ways you should troubleshoot to figure this out and fix the problem.
But most certainly there is a problem, one that needs fixing, and it’s not something normal.
When one of the cats I was looking after outdoors had a litter of kittens and one managed to survive against the odds, I was shocked to discover that I basically didn’t need to litter train her at all.
I just put in a little Tupperware filled with cat litter into her playpen and she immediately knew what she was doing with it.
Of course, kittens be kittens and she would also play in the litter box like a scoundrel, but she 100% already knew to use that spot to pee and poo and anything bathroom related needed to be done there, and that was immediately as she was no longer needing the help of mom, took no time at all!
So this is a biological thing pretty much. Your cat knows without being taught that litter box = where they go to the bathroom, and it’s instinctual to the point where if they are not doing their litter-related activities in the litter box, it’s because there is a problem.
What could be the problem if it’s a #2 outside the litter box. Here’s where we get into the troubleshooting.
What Could Be Wrong if Your Cat Pooped on the Floor for the First Time
1. Health issues could be causing your cat to poop on the floor
You absolutely must rule this out by taking your cat to the vet and getting him or her checked out because it’s such a peculiar behaviour for a cat that you should be certain it’s not a health related issue.
It doesn’t matter if you suspect your cat might be leaving poops on the floor for alternate reason, you can be wrong enough about this for it to cause problems later.
Also, you would regret not taking your cat to the vet sooner if it turns out later that he or she has a health problem, because with most cat-related health issues, especially things like UTIs, the problems often become worse (and way more costly and intrusive, like surgery!), the longer it takes you to figure them out and try to treat them.
Nip it in the bud and most issues become non-issues quite soon. But this is definitely something you should talk to a vet about because it’s so out of the norm in terms of feline behaviour. They need all the tests done up to make sure they are healthy.
Especially point out the nature of your cat’s poop – if it’s firm or dry or loose or soft.
Your cat having diarrhea and not making it to the litter box in time is a different issue from your cat leaving a really dry stool just outside the litter box that may have stuck to him or her because your cat was so constipated and the poop thus landed outside of the litter box instead of where your cat was when they were trying to get it out.
Did you watch it happen? Can you explain your cat’s behavior as it did? Were they alarmed, stressed, meowing? What did they do after they were done? Did they try to use another litter box? In terms of figuring out what’s happening and why and in terms of correct diagnosis, it makes a huge difference.
Yes, check for UTIs, even though it’s technically a #2 and not a #1. Yes, check for food allergies that might be causing your pet gastronomical issues. Yes, check for everything else, because you just don’t know.
Once that’s out the way?
2. Other cats could be causing your cat to poop on the floor
Listen, I don’t care if you have cats that get along stupendously well and cuddle all the time and are just peachy together, in so many instances you need to try to keep an eye on when your cats try to pee or poo in the litter box.
What do you need to watch out for? If there is any aggression, even the ever most slightest bit, happening that is causing your cat to avoid pooping in the litter box, and resulting in him or her pooping on the floor instead.
Because cats are honestly super weird sometimes, and I have three in my home now that get along so well at this point that they play together every evening and snuggle together whenever it gets chilly. Honestly they are incredible.
But there will still be friction around the litter box sometimes. One cat will chase another away, and it’s the ones who are closest who will sometimes do this to each other. I think it’s just a biological instinct they have to keep other cats out of where they go?
I don’t know for sure cause these cats don’t even show aggression over food (they eat together 5 meals a day and no issues, not even a raised hand!), but the litter is a sticky (sorry, pun intended and had to!) point nonetheless.
What can you do if you’ve identified this as a problem? Honestly I think the best option is to have more litter boxes, in different locations though. Because in my experience once a cat has chased away another cat from a litter box, they don’t typically tend to follow, and your cat who needs the litter box can just use a different one in peace in another room.
The rule of thumb for litter boxes is number of cats + 1. So for me it’s 4 because I have 3 cats and one spare litter box.
But I definitely think issues arise if these are all placed in the same space, because then one cat can block off access period, no matter how many boxes there are. It’s better to space them out throughout the house, in different rooms if possible.
Let me know if you’ve experienced this too in the comments below cause I don’t see it spoken about often (location of spacing of multiple cat litter boxes).
3. Issues with the cat litter might be causing your cat to poop on the floor
Some cats just don’t jive well with specific litter. Maybe it’s too ashy and sandy and gets in their eyes, or is too weird feeling on their feet? Too hard or too thick or too thin?
Whatever the reason may be, some litters are just preferred by some cats, and you should try changing the litter back if you recently changed it, as your cat could just be saying they hate the new litter.
But they changed the formulation of the normal one so I prefer to use the low tracking version now that that’s available. I love it the best.
That being said, it’s not so easy to access here in the EU, so I switched litters a few different times to try new ones, and one my cat literally cried before using the litter each and every single time. He still used it, but seemed displeased.
I hated that cat litter too. Waywayway too much dust! (It was Croci Eco Clean Litter if you’re curious) So after a few days of trying it, I chucked it out and switched to the second cat litter I’d been testing as a back up – Cat’s Best Original Formula.
He seems to like this formulation even better than the World’s Best, probably because he has issues with cereals when he ingests them and World’s Best is made of corn kernel, while this new one I’m using is made of Wood and Vegetable Fiber and maybe that jives better with him? Or maybe it’s the lack of dust (there’s been so much less!).
Either way, yes, cats have massive preferences for litter and you need to pay attention to this and try different ones because your cat actually does have an easier time using the bathroom if it’s a litter they like.
4. Your cat may not like the litter box you are using
My cats are perfectly happy with these and I think they prefer them because they give them privacy from each other (so I’d recommend them based on my experience, as multi-cat household litter boxes).
My cats definitely can get nosey and try to chase away other cats from the litter, as I’ve said, but this keeps the cat in the litter far enough away that it’s not been a problem once a cat gets into a box.
Some cats hate narrow litter boxes and want them to be spacious, say because they are larger themselves, and some cats just hate where you put the litter box and you need to move the placement for them to be happier.
Sometimes circumstance changes too, like my brother’s cat who once pooped on the floor cause she couldn’t be bothered to go into the top entry litter box with her cone on (as she’d been doing for two weeks already). So he added an open litter box for her and she would go in there from then on.
So keep this in mind if your cat’s going on the floor, and definitely try to arrange things in a manner your cat prefers, even if you’re not worried about poop being on the floor because it’s easy to clean.
A cat that poops in the litter box is undoubtedly far less stressed than one pooping on the floor. Only a serious issue like a health issue or a lot of stress from other sources would cause this problem.
Your Thoughts on Cats Pooping on the Floor?
Have you ever had a cat poop on the floor outside the litter box? What did you suspect the problem was? What did it turn out to be?
Do you have any advice for those whose cats are pooping on the floor for the first time? Any stories you can share about this kind of thing happening?
Are there any explanations I missed in the article? Would love to know your thoughts and opinions and hear your stories in the comments section down below!