My six year-old cat is acting strange about food and defecating. Help me help him.
July 5, 2012 8:26 AM   Subscribe

My six year-old cat is acting strange about food and defecating. Help me help him.

I have two six year-old cats, one male, one female. Baxter (obligatory photo) is six years-old, and he has always been a finicky little bugger when it comes to the litter box. He only likes particular kinds of litter - he hates anything scented - and once he deems the box unclean, he goes right outside of it. This was a huge problem at my previous place, because the box was on hardwood floor and after one "accident," he continued to go on the floor, even when the box was freshly cleaned.

I moved to a new place about a month ago, and this problem has gotten a lot worse. At first he was having absolutely no problems going in the litter box. The cats were sharing a huge new box (this one) and he seemed to like it. Then I added a litter mat because they were tracking litter all over my bathroom floor, and he defecated on that. I guess one day that box wasn't clean enough for him and he defecated on the floor right next to the box. I've been cleaning the box every day and changed it last Thursday. Even when it was completely new and fresh, he defecated outside of it. He appears to still be using the box every so often, but he mostly uses the floor. I went on a four-day trip last week and came back to find five piles of feces on my bathroom floor.

He's also been strange about food. As you can see from the picture, he is not a small cat. He's always been a very healthy eater. The cats share a can of wet food and two cups of dry food at around 10pm at night. He eats all of the food within five minutes and then vomits it up because he ate so fast. Then he starts begging for food first thing in the morning and doesn't stop all day. I've started giving him an extra scoop of dry food so he'll stop bothering me. That's gone in a few minutes and he's begging again.

I'm planning to take him to the vet, but does anyone have any similar experiences with a cat?
posted by anotheraccount to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
Try getting a second little box.

It also sounds like he might be a bit anxious or stressed. You might talk to your vet about that.

My cats do the eat too fast vomit it up thing too, I just kind of resigned myself to cleaning up little piles of regurgitated cat food for the rest of my life.
posted by royalsong at 8:34 AM on July 5, 2012

I would try removing the cover from the box. A lot of cats hate the confining aspect of a covered litter box. I tried that one you have for a short period and it was a total disaster.

My mom's cat has always been like that with eating so fast he pukes, and she only gives him small portions now as a result. Half a can of wet food plus a cup of dry is a LOT for a cat to eat at once. Mine are hearty eaters and they eat less than a cup over the course of an entire day. I would give them the wet food at night and the dry in the morning, or vice versa, but not both at once.
posted by something something at 8:46 AM on July 5, 2012

If your cat is sensitive to smells, maybe try an uncovered litter box plus scoop every day plus add another litter box or two (they say to have 1 for each cat and then one extra). It may just be the ammonia + poop smell. For example, the time you were gone for 4 days, he pooped 5 times and probably the other cat did too. That's 10 poops in one box, which would be a lot to handle.
posted by Houstonian at 8:52 AM on July 5, 2012

If you went on a four-day trip last week, the box was certainly not spotlessly clean by the end of your trip. So to me, it sounds like a little pile of feces on the floor would be right in line with Baxter's established habits.

Honestly, one box for two cats isn't enough, especially if one is a picky pooper and only uses a clean box and especially if you're not scrupulous about keeping it clean (by which I mean cleaning it 2-3 times a day, not just once a day).

As for food, you could try dividing it up -- our cat currently gets breakfast (blob of wet food), dinner (blob of wet food) and a bedtime snack (blob of wet food).
posted by kate blank at 8:53 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Our dearly departed alpha male cat hated the Booda Dome. DESPISED it. Threw a caterwauling fit in the hallway the third or fourth day after we got it, crapped all around it, and peed on our bed for good measure, lest we misunderstand the true depths of his disdain. So, we got rid of it. Things calmed down.

As others have said, I think it traps odors and is confining in a really uncomfortable way, particularly if your cat is fastidious and rebels at a dirty litter box.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:56 AM on July 5, 2012

Have you tried using Cat Attract litter? It's not scented, it's just got something in it that cats like.
posted by schroedinger at 9:24 AM on July 5, 2012

Some cats prefer to use one box for urine and another location for feces. It makes them feel more organized, or something, god help us. Nthing putting out more boxes. Is there perhaps some kind of litter or box that your female cat objects to but Baxter does not? If so, that would help him maintain his organizational system.
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:32 AM on July 5, 2012

Ah. You have a gulper. So he needs to be able to graze. Have you thought of a programmable feeder in addition to your nightly wet food regimen? Something like this one, which can deliver up to 4 portions of dry food a day.

And yes, sounds like your box selection has been vetoed. But whatever you do, use an enzymatic cleaner all around the area. Not for the stains, for the to-us-undetectable scent cues. I use one that's not available in the States, but I hear good things about Nature's Miracle.
posted by likeso at 9:33 AM on July 5, 2012

He eats all of the food within five minutes and then vomits it up because he ate so fast. The medical term, according to our beloved former vet Dr. Brenda Hollis, is "piggy vomit". Dole his supper out in courses. Then he starts begging for food first thing in the morning and doesn't stop all day. I've started giving him an extra scoop of dry food so he'll stop bothering me. That's gone in a few minutes and he's begging again.
How about one of those ball-feeders the cat has to chase around to get it to release food kibble-by-kibble? That way Baxter could harass it instead of you.
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:39 AM on July 5, 2012

One of our cats always poops just outside the box, we have tried everything (different litters, more boxes, moving box, cleaning twice a day, different types of boxes etc) and the vet has tested for everything. We now just put some newspaper outside the box and she goes on that and its much easier to clean up. We joke she has her own newspaper subscription because that's the only reason we get the paper (we read it online).
posted by meepmeow at 9:54 AM on July 5, 2012

Thanks, all. I did get one of the ball-feeders a few weeks ago and he hasn't figured it out yet (in addition to being a pain in my butt, Baxter is also not the smartest animal I have ever come across). I will try that again.

I stopped feeding them more than once a day because if I fed in them in the morning, Bax would start meowing hysterically in my face at 4am looking for breakfast. Since I've moved I've been closing the bedroom door at night, so maybe I can try spacing out feedings more.

I took the dome off of the litter box a few weeks ago because it didn't fit under my bathroom counter with the dome on. He's pooped a lot more outside of the box since then, though I think that has more to do with wanting to poop there than the dome. Doesn't make sense that he would prefer the dome and yet poop somewhere where it's totally visible.
posted by anotheraccount at 9:56 AM on July 5, 2012

When our kitties were babies, we kept our litter box under a wall sink in the basement bathroom.

Suddenly Malcolm decided that the totally awesome, non smelling BREEZE litter box was not to his liking so he took his dumps on the bathroom floor. Uncool!

Turns out that as Malcolm grew larger, he didn't like the U-pipe cramping his style. We got a really cool bit of litter furniture, moved the litter system, and now we have no problem.

Your kitty may just hate crapping in an igloo.

I have to say, if your kitty hates smells, he may love the Breeze litter box.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:38 PM on July 5, 2012

Regarding the eating behavior, you might want to get Baxter's thyroid checked. As I just mentioned in another thread, I have a cat that had a similar food obsession and it turned out to be hyperthyroidism. Getting his thyroid levels under control pretty much fixed the constant "FEED ME NOW!" problem entirely. (And my cat was over 20 lbs at the time, so don't automatically rule it out just because "weight loss" is one of the symptoms.)
posted by platinum at 2:05 PM on July 5, 2012

One of my cats is a gulper, but his vomiting stopped pretty drastically once I raised his food dish.
posted by kimota at 6:13 AM on July 9, 2012

Looks like I did some malformed HTML there. I meant to link to this.
posted by kimota at 6:15 AM on July 9, 2012

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