Housetraining cat
September 12, 2005 4:30 PM   Subscribe

My housetrained cat has just started crapping on the carpet on a regular basis.

My housetrained cat has just started crapping on the carpet on a regular basis. We have moved to a new city, new apartment. She's usually very good, she goes outdoors, but has recently taken to defaecating on the carpet even though she has been let outside. I think she doesn't like the garden, perhaps because the dirt is too hard or there are other cats that scare her or that it is a new place and she is stressed. I also suspect she started going on the carpet when she was kept inside when we first moved in because once or twice her litter box was too soiled. I just don't want this to become a habit. Any cat psychology tips would be very useful.
posted by Sonny Jim to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know that cats don't like to poop where they eat - try moving her food directly over the places she's soiled and maybe she'll get the hint.
posted by ferociouskitty at 4:35 PM on September 12, 2005

My parent's cat poops on the carpet when she's unhappy - whether it be with the state of her litter box or the fact that they just left her alone for the weekend. Is there anything you can think of that you might be deserving of punishment for? Cats are weird like that.

The food dish idea is a good one, but it hasn't worked for my parents. Who knows though, your cat may be far less finicky than theirs.

I know the upscale pet food store near us carries a product that's supposed to mimic cat pheremones to keep them from scratching/spraying/etc in areas where you apply the spray. Can't remember what it's called, but I'll see if I can find the name when I go pick up kitty food this evening. I've never tried it (mostly because it's around $30 a bottle) but it might be worth a shot if it's within your budget.

Barring that, you might try putting aluminum foil on the carpet in the spot where she's been pooping. Cats HATE the feeling of aluminum foil.

Also, if you've got the space, another litter box might be a good investment. Some people recommend having up to 2 boxes per kitty. It's a good idea, provided you have the room for it... though I'm not one to talk, as we have 3 cats and one (albeit jumbo) litter box...
posted by salad spork at 4:59 PM on September 12, 2005

New and unusual bathroom behaviour can be a sign of a serious health problem in a cat. You might want to make a trip to the vet to rule out any medical problems.
posted by gokart4xmas at 5:08 PM on September 12, 2005

Thanks guys. I'm trying the food thing, just started that today. If she poohs there, she eats there. I will see if it works.

I suspect she is quite traumatised. She has just moved to a new city, we flew her down and then she's been home by herself when she's used to having company. Also we have started taking a hard line on the "No cat in the bedroom" rule where before we'd let things slide before so she may be lonely and sad and upset.

I'm still worried she may form a habit even after the period of disruption is over though and I want to nip the behaviour in the bud
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:42 PM on September 12, 2005

The artificial cat scent is Feliway Comfort Zone. I have used it with success when we introduced a third kitty to the tribe. He was a foundling, and feral, so not only did the plug in help the other two kitties with adjustment, but it helped him become the Prince of COuches he is today. Feliway is expensive, but it is worth it (and I heard about it here on AxMeFi!).

I am curious, why the no kitty in the bedroom edict? I wonder only because it was ok in the last house and not ok here- was it a habit you had accidentally fallen into? I know that if I were to ban Melon (the foundling) from the bedroom, there would be hell to pay.
posted by oflinkey at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yeah .. . if your cat is used to "nesting" with you, then she's likely to be seriously distressed about being made to nest elsewhere/by herself. My cats would batter down the door if we shut them outside the bedroom. As it is, they get wicked separation anxiety so . . . you might reconsider the bedroom thing if it's at all negotiable and the vet says she's healthy.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:20 PM on September 12, 2005

Every cat I've ever owned who started pooping in a place other than where they're supposed to poop was upset emotionally, not physically.

A couple of years ago, we were gone for a week and a housesitter was supposed to come over and spend about three hours a day with our two cats. Unfortunately, she couldn't spend the amount of time we asked her to spend, and because the cats were alone they started pooping in our bedrooms. Once we returned home and the routine returned to normal, so did their elimination habits.

Get your cat back into her normal routine as soon as possible, including (if possible) access to the bedroom in question, and she should settle down. Moving coupled with being locked out of a favorite place is a lot of change at once for her. She may simply miss being able to hop onto your bed for a snuggle or a nap.

I also agree with putting her food on/near the spot she's been pooping on - it's been very effective for us.
posted by lambchop1 at 7:24 PM on September 12, 2005

The no kitty on the bed rule is the norm. Usually she has her *own room* which smells like her. We have set the same thing up in the new place but I suspect she's not into it as our furniture hasn't arrived yet.

Recently my husband and I have been living in different cities. She has been up north with my husband and he has had her on the bed. I tow a harder line with the cat. I really prefer not to have the cat in the bedroom as I have asthma.

[The bed in question at the moment is not really a bed but an air mattress on the floor. We're still waiting for the furniture to arrive, so it would also be very uncomfortable for all involved to sleep on the bed]
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:05 PM on September 12, 2005

Thanks for all the comments so far by the way. The chaange of routine is definitely the source of the problem. I think I just needed to hear that she would settle down once things get back to normal.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:18 PM on September 12, 2005

another possibility is that the place you moved into housed animals from the previous owner/renter. if they soiled the carpet, she may smell it and think it's okay to do that too.

just nip it in the bud. if it goes on too long or she starts peeing, she might never stop and then graduate to your furniture.
posted by centrs at 10:29 PM on September 12, 2005

Stress is the major cause of this kind of behavior, according to my daughter the vet. It is very common during a move, particularly if the cat's normal environment for bathroom needs is kind of hostile - she doesn't like the hard dirt in the garden, she's intimidated by other animals.

And then the problem, once it gets started, is perpetuated. Once she defecates on the carpet she will be attracted by the odor and feel it is acceptable, or even desirable, to do it again.

The solution is to do everything in your power to make her feel secure. Keep the litter box easily available, but out of a family traffic area so she is not distracted or startled by normal activity. Keep the litter box scrupulously clean. Scoop it every time you walk by - once a day is no where near enough while you are dealing with this problem. Give her extra attention. Discourage her going out unless she seems to really want to. (Indoor cats live, on average, about 10 years longer than outdoor cats).

Clean the soiled carpet vigorously - many times and with commercial products made for the job. And then do what you can to block that area of the house from her. If the room has a door (best scenario), keep it closed.

This is a difficult problem to resolve once it gets really established. Head it off now and stick with it.
posted by Prestocran at 11:53 PM on September 12, 2005

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