Why does my cat poop on the side of the litter box?
August 31, 2018 9:59 AM   Subscribe

My 1-year-old cat likes to poop both in the litter and on the side of the litter box. We use Nature's Miracle Jumbo Disposable Litter Boxes and dispose of the entire box once a month. He "christens" the new box as soon as it is provided to him and sometimes does it other times in the same box or other two boxes. (My three cats have three boxes total.) Why does he do this?

He has even started pooping on the wall right next to the litter boxes. We're not able to throw out the litter box every time he does this, and we try to clean the side the best we can. We went to disposable boxes because we have nowhere in the apartment to wash plastic boxes. Three boxes are the maximum we can fit in our small apartment, and they are all in our extra bathroom in a row placed on a wood plank on top of the bathtub area.

He was recently diagnosed with cryptosporidium and is being treated for that. He eats Orijen Regional Red Dry and Wellness wet chicken herring and also turkey salmon. He's 13 lbs and has gained 2 pounds in the last two months. This behavior has gone on for the last 6 months or so.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it that the box is too small, so his butt is hanging over the side?

If you're looking for a spot to fit a bigger box, inside the shower/bathtub is one solution. (We do this) Yes, it's a pain to deal with it every time you need to bathe, but it's better than the poopy alternative, to me.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:49 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

The boxes we use are the following dimensions: 21 x 15.25 x 7.75 inches.

I haven't seen his butt hanging over the side. He's going on the interior sides of the box or sprays it on the wall immediately next to the box.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 11:28 AM on August 31, 2018

That's a tight fit for a big boy cat! Maybe get 2 larger litter boxes?

also, have you had his rapid weight gain checked by the vet? it probably isn't why he's pooping on the box, but a pound a month is a lot for a kitty who is no longer technically a kitten.

also also, cat tax?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think the boxes are too short. My smallest cat for whatever reason stands completely upright to do her business. I've watched her; she's standing inside the box but the angle just makes it go over the side. We had to upgrade to the tallest boxes I could find, which are these (we use them without the lids).
posted by something something at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2018

Here he is.
posted by ridogi at 11:46 AM on August 31, 2018 [6 favorites]

Does he have what our vet calls butt-rise syndrome? Not an actual syndrome, it's just that as our cat is going, his back end stands up so while he starts out aiming properly downward, by the time he's done, he's aiming directly back. We bought a high-walled litterbox that claims to be nonstick, which keeps things inside unless he lines up so his butt is aimed directly out the entrance, which is solved by puppy pads. We wipe down the inside of the box with these textured wipes when it sticks to the sides.

Our elderly ladycat hangs her butt over the side--with this new litterbox, she hangs her butt out the front--and after years we just gave up. Our litterbox setup is the litterbox set in a washing machine tray lined with puppy pads, which are clipped to the edge of the tray with these litter tray liner clips we found at Petsmart. (For those who say we should have more litterboxes, we do--we have a Litter Robot right next to them, which only the elderly ladycat uses, and only occasionally. They prefer to use the same box, for whatever reason.)
posted by telophase at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

I should add that both our cats have the same issue no matter the size of the box--they both love lining up close to the edge. We've tried all sorts of sizes of box over the past decade.
posted by telophase at 11:58 AM on August 31, 2018

You might want to switch from the disposable boxes to larger plastic boxes with disposable liners. Instead of washing the box, you just take out the liner and the litter. No mess.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

My huge male cat does this with any litter box that isn't covered. We made ourselves something similar to this since the seams on commercial covered cat boxes would eventually leak when he sprayed the side.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:30 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, if I understand correctly, he's standing to poop and does it against the wall? A high-sided box, like a small Rubbermaid tote, could do the trick. Just make sure he can get in and out, either via a hole cut in the side of the tote or some kind of improvised cat staircase.

Melanie the Wonder Cat used to scratch the wall after using the box; she was just trying to be incredibly industrious with digging and covering up. I got a sheet of cheap formica from the Home Building Center, had it cut into manageable pieces, and slid one vertically between the box and the wall. She scratched on that to her heart's content. Maybe something similar would work for your boy's business getting on the walls.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:41 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Little My just can't aim. She's not an indoor cat, but she'll be digging vigorously in the garden and without fail poop 5-10" behind the hole. She looks surprised and annoyed every single time.
posted by Thug at 1:03 AM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

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