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I have an elderly cat who has a history of digestion issues. A couple months ago he started having severe constipation, which he alerted me to by pooping on the floor in front of the litter box instead of in the litter box itself. It took a little while to readjust his diet to fix the constipation issues, which have cleared up.

Unfortunately, I know this because he's still pooping on the floor, and now it's a bit harder to clean up after.

He still urinates in the litter box, and I suspect that he's just gotten used to pooping on the floor or associates the pain of constipation with the litter box or the like. I've tried replacing the litter box with one that's easier to get into, as well as changing the kind of litter in use to see if that breaks the association, but that hasn't helped either.

Unfortunately, there isn't anywhere else in my home that would be suitable for his litter box, so changing its location isn't a possibility (and anyway, he is going to the right room).

What else can I try to stop having to mop my bathroom floor every day?

Edit: For the first time ever I actually caught him in the act of doing it. He started out by standing in the box, started clenching down, and then walked forward as the poop came out. So clearly he's starting in the litter box; the challenge is getting him to stay there.

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Replacing the litter box with one that's easier to get into was a good idea, as was experimenting with different types of litter. For many cats, one of those would have solved the problem. But it sounds like your elderly cat associated the pain with the location, rather than the box or the litter.

At least temporarily, put a second litter box on the floor where he's currently pooping. Yes, that will probably mean you have a new litter box right in front of the old one. Once he's pooping in the new litter box consistently, you can probably retire the old one, and then s-l-o-w-l-y move the new one where the old one was.

  • Thanks, I'll give that a try. Or maybe I'll start by moving the existing litter box to where he poops. I just hope that doesn't throw off my other cat too much... – fluffy Oct 28 '18 at 22:48
  • Wellp, now he's just pooping on a different part of the floor, sigh. – fluffy Oct 29 '18 at 19:46
  • So sorry that didn't help! – mhwombat Oct 30 '18 at 19:13
  • It was a good idea though! Hopefully it helps someone else who comes by. :) – fluffy Oct 30 '18 at 22:56
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    Based on your edit, I wonder if he discovered that walking forward while pooping made it less uncomfortable, just as a human might shift position on the toilet if very constipated. If that's what happened, then perhaps he will eventually stop doing it once he gets used to pooping being easy again. In the meantime, perhaps putting a "puppy training pad" on the floor in front of the litter box will make clean-up a bit easier. Or even just some cardboard, since it's poop rather than urine. – mhwombat Nov 1 '18 at 0:26
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Today I took him to the vet, who suggested all the things I've already tried – changing the litter substrate, going to a lower-lipped litter box, and so on – and she suggested that the issue might actually be due to his arthritis, and perhaps the act of squatting in litter is what's causing his pain (which is mostly in his lower back as far as I can tell).

I'm going to try putting him on a glucosamine supplement, although it will take a while for that to make any difference at all.

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    It could be that your cat is walking forward because he finds the squatting position painful after a moment. In that case, the glucosamine may help. – mhwombat Nov 1 '18 at 0:28
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I believe you will find a solution to this problem. But... given that your cat is elderly and has arthritis, there's a chance that this may be something you have to put up with for whatever time he has left. In that case, it may be easier to focus on changes that will make clean-up easier for you. Perhaps you could put down several sheets of newspaper, so that when he poops, you only have to pick up the top sheet and throw it away. It may be a little frustrating, but it will probably be a lot easier once you figure out a good system.

I went through this myself with a beloved dog years ago. I started collecting bits of plastic wrap from packages. That made it easy to pick up the poop and toss it away without having to wash my hands 20 times a day. (I have eczema which is exacerbated by dry skin.) One I figured out a system for dealing with the poop, it became easy. I knew at the time that my dog didn't have long; it was about a year. I still miss him terribly and I'd be glad to pick up the poop if he was still with me.

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