Cat poops on rugs. WTF?
July 18, 2009 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Cat has started pooping on the rugs. WTF?

So, in the past several months, our cat has decided that the bath rug we keep next to the tub, the one around the toilet, and the two we keep in front of the front and back doors, are just dandy places to poop.

He doesn't pee on them. Just poop. And ONLY at night after we've gone to sleep. If we take the rugs up, or if it's during the day, he happily poops in his box, so I don't think this is a case of him not liking his box anymore. If the rug's not there, he uses his box. In any case, there's really nowhere else in the house to put another box where the dog won't get into it (Because, you know, in dog-think Litter Box = Godiva!) and a second box won't fit in the current cat room.

Covering the rugs with newspaper seems to keep him from pooping on them, as well. And it's just these small throw rugs. He's not leaving presents anywhere else on the carpet. Just these rugs.

Kitty is an 8-year-old boy. Fixed. Is perfectly healthy as far as the vet can tell.

My wife has reminded me that this behavior seemed to escalate after we cleaned the carpets in the house and had to temporarily move the litter box to the bathroom for about a day. But, he never pooped on the rugs in there at that time. He used his box.

And, yes, we keep cleaning the rugs with enzymatic cleaners.

We're stumped. Anyone?
posted by Thorzdad to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My wife has reminded me that this behavior seemed to escalate after we cleaned the carpets in the house.

You changed the way all the carpet in the house smelled... except those bits.

So he's making sure they keep smelling like home.

You'll have to lose those rugs.
posted by rokusan at 7:48 AM on July 18, 2009

The last time one of the cats elected to take care of business someplace other than the litter box, we isolated the cat in the room with the box (a bathroom) for several days, she had no choice but to use the box. (note, we went in to interact, pet, play with the cat frequently during this "time out")... that took care of it..

Also, as mentioned, you might want to switch out the mats/rugs.
posted by HuronBob at 7:59 AM on July 18, 2009

As in "never have rugs there again" or "replace with new rugs"?

Since I posted the originally, my wife has refreshed me on the cat's habit with the rugs...THe bathroom has three rugs. Kitty began pooping on the rug by the tub ONLY. He didn't touch the other two.
When we took-up the tub rug, he moved-on to the rug in front of the sink, exclusively. He did not touch the toilet rug.
When we took-up the sink rug, he finally moved-over to the toilet rug. At no time, when all three rugs were down did he poop on any rug other than the tub rug.

When we finally took up the toilet rug (leaving no rugs in the bathroom) he moved to the rug by the front door. He never touched that rug until no rugs were available in the bathroom.

Psycho cat.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:02 AM on July 18, 2009

Forgot to add...the three rugs in the bathroom ARE new. We put them down after the carpets were cleaned, so they never had the "home" smell in the first place.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:03 AM on July 18, 2009

You can try making the "poop" rugs less appealing - i.e. try to make them smell new. Wash the ones that can be washed with something perfumey, or have then professionally cleaned. In addition to enzymatic cleaners, try rubbing the spots where he has done his work with white vinegar, or use white vinegar as part of the rinse if you wash the rugs. When we have used white vinegar, it has seemed to discourage reuse of the same spot.

If all else fails, invest in one new rug and see if he leaves it alone. If so, then replace them all.
posted by gudrun at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2009

Ah, just saw your update about the rugs being new. I would still try dousing them completely with white vinegar and see if he continues to use them, and spot treat with white vinegar as well. Also maybe remove the small rugs completely for a bit to try to break the habit.

Also, we had a really finicky cat who would poop elsewhere if the litter box did not smell to her liking. We had to be super vigilant about scooping the poop, cleaning the box regularly, and we took to sprinkling fresh litter over the top every time after scooping to help it pass her sniff test.
posted by gudrun at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

agree with grudrun; see if you can find a brand of cat litter more to his liking. I had a cat who crapped on stuff all the time until we changed the contents of his sandbox (my hippie roommates had been using actual sand; it didn't work on many different levels). Get the super odor-eating whatever brand, to be on tha safe side.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:40 AM on July 18, 2009

Well...he's been happily using the same odor-eating brand for several years now without problem. And he still pees in the box without an issue.'s worth a shot, as long as something budget-friendly can be found.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:04 AM on July 18, 2009

cats are insane. mine goes into these spells where she decides she wants to be a human too and poops in the bathroom, on the floor. usually it's on the tile, but if there's a bathmat down she'll go on that (which i think is because it's cozier--the tile is cold on her paws). why? i don't know. she's mad at me for painting a room? for having a houseguest? she wants her litter box cleaned more often? she has a hairball? she's got an upset tummy? she needs attention? i lose my mind trying to figure it out. i've put feliway diffusers everywhere, which helps a little. but sometimes the only solution is to 'reboot' the cat. lock her up in the room with her box. she has to stay in there all day while i'm at work, and all night, too. she uses the box when she's stuck in the room with it. i'll do this for a few days, then cautiously mete out freedom. if she has another incident, back into lockdown. but it usually stops the behavior for a few weeks, or until the next mysterious time she decides i have offended her.
posted by apostrophe at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Alternatively, you could use the Charles Mingus Method.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:31 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

We had a nice, docile cat for a couple of years and then "adopted" a stray a couple of years after that, intending for him to be a companion for her. The stray was far more active and while it took a real long time, our first cat started seemed to eat more, wound up looking more or less like a baby seal, and would always get "spectated on" when she went to the catbox, followed by a furious and unwanted chase as she rushed down the stairs with the adopted cat in pursuit. During this time she started pooping on the carpet right next to the catbox. We believe that this was either because 1) she wanted to make a quick getaway without being "trapped" by our other cat while taking a dumpski, and/or 2) her arse no longer fit comfortably in the catbox, which is one of the large automatic Littermaid units. A few months ago we donated the stray to our father-in-law, where he is much happier because he gets to go outside via a doggie door and also has a canine companion just as rambunctious as he is.

Basically it sounds like this behaviour could be caused by a whole range of things; just throwing another possible reason out there. We don't as yet have a solution but she's pooping in the catbox more now that he's gone. Still has the occasional shit outside the box though. The box has been cleaned twice and is in a nice, private area. The carpet isn't particularly thick either.
posted by cyniczny at 11:30 AM on July 18, 2009

I'll actually recommend against changing the cat litter, if he's been using it fine for years. If you change it and he doesn't take to it, you'll only be forcing him to the rugs. However, you need to keep that box immaculately clean. Swap out all the litter, replacing it with fresh stuff. Clean the box. Scoop daily, if not twice a day. Make it as appealing to him as possible.

Regardless of why he first pooped on the rugs (although the carpet cleaning probably freaked him out and was the cause), to him, the rugs now smell like home. He's pooped on them, they're his. Even if you can't smell it, he can. Cats prefer to keep pooping & peeing in the same place, ie the place that smells like them. If you want to keep these rugs, you're going to have to remove all traces of his smell, including the ones you can't smell yourself. You'll need something like Nature's Miracle to do this. It might be easier to replace the rugs, I dunno.
posted by cgg at 11:37 AM on July 18, 2009

Have you noticed any change in his poop? Or does his anus look raw or irritated? Apparently cats, with their tiny lovable brains, sometimes stop pooping in their litter box because it hurts to poop and they associate the box with the pain. I know you said he's perfectly healthy, but our guy is also otherwise perfectly healthy and sometimes his bum just gets irritated for no apparent reason, upon which he enjoys pooping in the bathtub (at least its easily cleanable?). You probably would have noticed, but just thought I'd provide another pov.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:57 PM on July 18, 2009

Don't change the litter, if he is used to one brand stick with it. It may not be about the rugs or the litter but has something to do with you and your wife or the dog at night. Was the cat allowed in your room at night and now isn't? Was the dog confined at night and now roams free or vice versa? Does the cat use the litter box to poop during the day?

There is a litter called Cat Attract that you might look at but I would do that only as a last resort. Dump out all the litter in the box, wash the box, and refill it with fresh litter.

Try keeping him confined at night to an area with no rugs but a very accessible litter box. Make sure the litter box is clean before you go to bed.
posted by Flacka at 2:15 PM on July 18, 2009

Just an anecdote, but when we adopted our fourth cat and he wouldn't stop pooping on the carpet in the corner we finally gave up and crate-trained him.

Yes, crate-trained a cat. We just stuck him in a cage with his litter box and food and water, endured all the crying while our other three cats sat fascinated (mocking) on the other side of the wire, and when he finally learned that he had to poop in the litterbox, we let him out. It took a week or so.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:23 PM on July 18, 2009

Sorry for taking so long to get back to this thread. I just wanted to give any fix we tried some time to hopefully work.

We have been trying a combination of keeping the rugs up off the floor for weeks at a time and spraying them with vinegar when they are on the floor. Results have been mixed. If we keep applying the vinegar daily, the cat seems to be avoiding the front door rug. It's been hit-and-miss on the bathroom rugs, though.

Sorry not to have more definite results.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:57 PM on August 17, 2009

As an update...Nothing we've tried has ultimately dissuaded the cat from pooping on the rugs. He might go many days but, eventually, he will drop a load on a rug.

We really have no idea what to do now.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2009

I'm coming in especially late, I know. I'm not sure what you have and haven't tried, but I thought I'd bring up a couple of possibilities.

What happens before he dumps a load? Is there a pattern? Is there a particularly stressful event, or does the cleaning get skipped that day? Maybe your answer lies there.

It's sometimes the case that a cat prefers to pee in one box and poop in the other. He could also just be especially insistent on having a pristine box. You said having a dog precludes two boxes, but if you're still having this issue, you might want to reconsider, and look for a way to hack it. They'd still need to be clean and completely odorless (no perfumes), and scooped daily.

Ala wuzandfuzz's comment above, but specifically: is his poop hard? He may be dehydrated, which would make it uncomfortable to poop. And I didn't see it mentioned: have you had him checked out by the vet, to rule out any other health issues? Cats don't telegraph when they're in discomfort or pain, and litter box issues are often the first sign that something's wrong.

And somebody else brought it up: are there any new, ongoing stressors?

Assuming your cat is healthy and your litter box is clean, the issue that triggered this whole thing may already be resolved, but you have a cat now in the habit of pooping outside the box. You'll want to do everything you can to make the box attractive and his environment comfortable.

I've heard great things from various places about a product called "Cat Attract," which comes as a pre-made litter or as a product you sprinkle into odorless litter to make the kitties love it.*

There's also a product called Feliway. I'd recommend it for cats in any kind of stressful situation, or for scratching/yowling/peeing/spraying problems. No idea if it will help with the pooping situation.

Finally, here's a web page on litter box issues, which may or may not have something more to offer. Good luck.

*I've never used it. I do use the litter from the same makers, and every night I scoop, I want to weep in happiness. I love the stuff. "Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra," if you're interested. Zero scent, clumps hard. More expensive initially, but lasts forever if you're good to it.
posted by moira at 8:48 PM on September 25, 2009

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