Bad kitty...
June 21, 2017 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Our cat has developed the habit of consistently pooping on our bed. Sometimes we're home, sometimes not. Luckily she still pees in the litter box, but we're afraid that's going to change. We keep the litter clean and are at our wits end. I adore this cat... I love her to pieces. I'm desperate to keep her, but this behavior is intolerable and needs to stop. What can we do?

She's had 2 vet visits in the past month. Both for a double ear infection, and the second one she also got a flea treatment with Revolution. The ear infection is probably gone, since she's gotten two gel packs. The vet was confident in our second visit that the second gel pack would knock it out. She's also on Prednisolone, but a very very minor dose - 4mL only, to keep her stomatitis at bay. It works and she only gets it 3x/week.

Her left ear (the one that got the treatment) is bent - not sure what that's about - possibly the gel packs?

We took a 3-day trip recently. She was visited by our petsitters, who know her. While they take very good care of her when we're gone, the visits are only 35 minutes long.

I'm convinced her behavior has to do with separation anxiety. My husband thinks that's bullshit, and she's doing it out of spite because we left. We have an upcoming trip in the fall and we'll be gone for an entire month. I have no idea what to do about that besides boarding, which is outrageously expensive and might make this behavior worse.

I've called the vet (waiting for a callback), and we're going to give her box a good cleaning and fresh litter when we get home. We're also getting some canned pumpkin because we think she might be a little constipated. We've covered the bed in a cheap blanket and a giant SpaceBag, which seems to work.

Other than that, no ideas.
posted by onecircleaday to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My cat had a problem with pooping JUST outside the box (sigh).

We solved it by switching to Cat Attract Litter. It really worked!

Oh and for separation anxiety try Feliway
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2017

What happens if she doesn't have access to your bedroom? Does she poop on another soft surface (like your sofa) or does she poop in her litter box?
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:07 AM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

shroedingersgirl - good queston. We tried closing the bedroom off today; we'll find out when we get home.
posted by onecircleaday at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

My vet also recommended these composure chews for kitty anxiety, and his little catnip toys seem to help too. Also carrying him around the house like a baby talking about my day, but YMMV on that one. But I think that separation anxiety and spite go hand in hand here; my cat misbehaves pretty badly when he's anxious, so I think that you and your husband are both correct. That's not to say that you should just give up and allow the bed-pooping, though. My little guy's triggers are major alterations in my routine, so I know what's going to set him off on his bad days. I try to have lots of distractions in the form of fun boxes for him to sit in, and toys for him to destroy. It seems to give him an outlet for his issues.
posted by backwards compatible at 9:16 AM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could try using Feliway diffusers throughout the space. You can also cover your bed with something unpleasant for her to walk on, like plastic sheeting. (You can cut open a large Hefty-type bag(s) to do this.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2017

How long has the behavior been going on? Since the trip or before?
posted by theweasel at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2017

I would ask, how old is the kitty? And does her poop seem like healthy poop? My 15 year old cat is a notorious naughty pooper, and I keep doors closed, furniture covered, I use Cat Attract litter to curb it. My cat is better now because her behavior is linked to gastrointestinal issues, and that's being addressed better.
posted by feste at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2017

Cats do not act out of revenge. They can't develop motives that are that complex. The cat misses you or is anxious and is trying to mix its scent with yours (very strong on the bed!) to help the cat feel better.

Shut the bedroom door and get Cat Attract litter.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2017 [25 favorites]

Everyone likes to joke about cats being weird/jerks but I hope your husband knows this animal does not do things out of spite. She doesn't have a concept of punishment, that's ludicrous-- and attributing human motives to cat behavior often results in sub-optimal care for the animal. Think of it like this: she's solving a problem as yet unknown to you, the best way she can.

I know she's been to the vet recently but did you mention this issue? Sometimes cats associate pain with the litter box (if they have a digestive problem, ate some string, etc.), so they go somewhere else.

She may hate the box for other reasons (hates the feel of it when she tries to bury, hates the smell)-- you could try offering an alternate box with different litter in a different location.

Cats do get anxious when their routines are disrupted as they thrive on routine, and the level of contact and play they've become accustomed to. If you're going to be gone for a month, can you have cat/house sitters come stay there, rather than popping in, to maintain her preferred schedule?
posted by kapers at 9:35 AM on June 21, 2017 [7 favorites]

Medieval Maven is 100% correct. Kitty is anxious and misses you and is trying to help the situation by commingling your scents. Get feliway diffusers, Cat Attract, and shut the door. For your longer trip, get someone to stay at your place.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2017

OP here - The behavior has been going on since the trip. The cat is 3 years old and has multiple health issues, all of which are under control. She seems a bit constipated, which has never been an issue before, but maybe mixing some pumpkin with her food will help. I say that because her poop is kind of hard and small.
posted by onecircleaday at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2017

She could be constipated, and when she relaxes to sleep on the bed, she wakes up relaxed enough to GO RIGHT THEN instead of when she was straining earlier in the box.
posted by agregoli at 10:04 AM on June 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

On the issue of anxiety and scent mixing, would it be possible to wear something frequently, or sleep with something, that you then put in a special bed or box for her during the day? My housemate has a deeply anxious cat who spends the day sleeping on her dirty laundry, which seems to help her separation anxiety, especially when she's on vacation. Maybe this would help your kitty too?
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 10:05 AM on June 21, 2017

If her poops are hard and small, pooping might be painful. If pooping is painful and she usually associates the box with pooping, then using the comfy bed might be a cat attempt to avoid the association of box with pain. Also because the bed smells like you, if pooping is painful, she might feel less anxious about pooping when she's near your scent.

Is her water dish near her food? Surprisingly, most cats prefer their water source some distance for their food, this is generally thought to be about avoiding water contamination. Also, was there a dripping faucet that was fixed recently? That can throw a cat's water pattern off. Oh. And if the cat is a toilet drinker and the toilet has started being unavailable, that can also impact pooping.

It doesn't sound like you've changed her food, but if you have, that can change the quality/comfort of the poops.

Too long; didn't read: the trip is possibly the trigger. But it might be a red herring. Definitely investigate the poops and her bowel system.
posted by bilabial at 10:06 AM on June 21, 2017 [7 favorites]

Short term solution: get a second litter box and keep the bedroom door closed when you're not home.

Long term solution: figure out and resolve whatever is causing the constipation.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:36 PM on June 21, 2017

I'd also suggest getting her anal glands expressed at the vet. My cat starts pooping outside the box when she's due for it. I think it causes her pain when she tries to poop and she associates that pain with the litter box. Also, she does not necessarily scoot her butt on the floor when her glands are full, but does sometimes.
posted by fozzie_bear at 7:08 PM on June 21, 2017

I didn't open your question before because I don't know about cats and littering. But when I did the Prednisolone jumped out at me, because my dog is on it now, and the vet said I had to prepare for pooping indoors and she was right. He seems to be over it now, but my antique Afghan carpet needs a trip to the cleaners.
posted by mumimor at 2:38 AM on June 22, 2017

OP here. I called the vet, and knowing that she's generally in a constant state of stress, the vet prescribed 1/4 pill of Prozac daily. I read up on the side effects of the kitty Prozac ("Reconcile"), and we've decided to give it a try along with other suggestions mentioned upthread. She has a vet visit scheduled next week and I'll be sure to ask them to check all things gastrointestinal. Also will ask about the Prednisolone - thank you for that!

The laundry is a great idea. We have plenty of tee shirts that we could leave in a box for her (she loves boxes). Closing the door helped; I thought she'd just go on the carpet in the living room but she did go in the box. We washed out the litter box yesterday and put fresh litter in it. We'll see what she does today. We were also directed to put no more than 1/8 tsp of pumpkin in her food. Hopefully that will help the constipation and any associated pain she's having.

I'll follow up in a couple of weeks for anyone interested in Reconcile. It's not my first choice, but we need to break out the big guns here.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by onecircleaday at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older What was this vaguely remembered anecdote about...   |   Need to wipe laptop drive Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.