Cats are deliberately avoiding the litter boxes: how do we get them to stop? (Obligatory photos and snowflake details inside.)
We have two cats, Jack is the black one
and Della is the gray one
. We've had them from kittenhood; they're about 4 years old at this point.
Historically, they've been great cats, but a few months ago, Jack started pooping on the carpet outside the bathroom. He has always made the most disgusting wet poops, which the vet investigated in his first year and found nothing wrong with. When this had been going on for a little while, Della began peeing there as well. It's disgusting -- the pooping generally happens overnight, and it's literally right in the doorway to the bathroom, so if you're not watching first thing in the morning, you can step on it or close the door over it. This is unacceptable:we have a two-year-old and we have a two-month
-old baby who's going to start crawling at some point, and it's not okay to have cat poop or the remnants thereof on the floor. We're at a loss as to how to fix this.
I had not previously made a vet appointment for Jack about this issue because those are just his normal poops, but I'm going to make one today just to check.
Here's what we've tried so far:
1) Enzymatic cleaner. No go.
2) Adding a litter box, so there are three total (two in the tiny bathroom, one in the basement). We even started with the addition on that spot and slowly moved it into the bathroom, since it prevented the bathroom door from closing. Solved the problem temporarily.
3) Put down things on the floor to deter them. Since we have to step over this spot to get to the bathroom, this doesn't last long. Either it gets destroyed, or my toddler picks it up to investigate and it vanishes. And eventually they just begin pooping on the item anyway, or pooping just outside whatever it is.
4) Catching them in the act -- they generally do it while everyone's asleep.
5) Making sure the litter boxes are extra clean -- no effect.
6) Shutting them in the bathroom overnight, which helped with the overnight poops, but not with having happy cats or with the random midday carpet poops that have started happening recently.
One option we've considered but haven't tried is pulling up the carpet -- aside from the carpet now needing to be replaced anyway, there's unfinished oak floor underneath. We'd rather postpone this, since ripping the carpet out of the hallway would put our only bathroom out of commission for the duration.
Clearly something is wrong in cat-land. This isn't, "Oh, we forgot what the litter box is for." The start of this behavior did coincide with:
a) Our toddler turning 2,
b) Cat-adoring housemate & her cat moving out, and
c) An overwhelming amount of familial stress (new baby! assorted deaths and illnesses! new job! It's been a hard year)
The toddler does chase them. We are working on this with him, in the mean time, when he's awake, they mostly live under the couch or under a chair (which they'd never done before). Perhaps giving them a safe space would help?
So, cats: how do they work? Any thoughts we haven't already tried before? And, again, I'm making an appointment with the vet to check general health.