I have read this question, but no answer seems to help here.

My cat is an eight-year-old neutered male, and I have had it for five years.

He has always used the litter box, but sometimes defecated outside of it (always just in front). I figured that he didn't like the box (too small), and fixed it years ago. Also, I did some tests with different types of litter to see which he was comfortable with (the one I currently have is really efficient at neutralizing the smell).

Until then, when he did defecate in front of his litter-box, it was always related to one of two causes:

  • He was not happy (we sometimes lock him up inside the bathroom when we clean up the flat; it is his way to say that he disapproved of it)
  • Because the litter is dirty and/or smelled bad

But for the last month or so he refuses to use the box to defecate at all, even if the box is clean and the litter is new. He always defecates just in front of the box. Thankfully, urination has never been a problem.

I haven't changed the litter brand, the "cleaning stuff" brand, location of the box, or anything that could have disrupted him. I know cats can easily be stressed by small environment changes, but I can't see anything that could have stressed him.

I don't think my cat is doing this out of anger, but what my cat does really look like a "I show you I am not happy" behavior. Maybe he is stressed when we lock him up and stress leads to this behavior?

I will bring my cat to a veterinarian next week if the problem isn't solved by then. I didn't do it yet, because "health problem" seems like an unlikely cause (apart from that, his behavior didn't change at all).

Except for unforeseen health problems, do you know of anything else that could bring a cat to change this kind of behavior? Can a cat suddenly not like a litter brand anymore, for example?


6 Answers 6


An anal gland infection/impaction may cause him to associate pain with the litter box. In the early stages, there will be no evidence of a problem.


Other than the issues noted already, this is the only thing I can think of that would cause your cat to avoid the litter box.

  • This happened with my cat who got a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Even after recovering he associated the litterbox with painful urination and won't use it. Or so my vet suggested.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 17:07

I have seen cats not like using the litterbox for a variety of reasons.

  • Do not want to share with another cat
  • They do not like the litter - smell, touch, etc.
  • They do not like the location of the litterbox
  • Litterbox is not clean enough
  • They dont like the litterbox cover
  • Not big enough
  • Too hard to get in to - either they are too small to get in, or arthritic
  • various others

The best thing to do is talk to your vet and see what he/she says

  • 1
    While all of that is true, this question asks about a change in behavior. These things were (according to the OP) all fine before and haven't changed; further, the cat uses it for urination. Commented May 21, 2014 at 19:46
  • perhaps one of these apply
    – Keltari
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 20:03
  • 4
    @MonicaCellio there hasn't been a change that we know of. For example, if he was startled in the box while defecating, he may be hesitant to put himself in that position again. Basic troubleshooting (including vet visit, adding additional boxes in new locations/shapes/litter/etc) is still required for this case.
    – Zaralynda
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 0:06

I finally succeeded in changing this behavior by breaking the routine.

I had seen a vet that said my cat is perfectly fine, and just after that I went on vacation and for 10 days a friend looked after him in his own place.

When I got home and took my cat back, he was back defecating in his box normally.

I don't know why he began to defecate out of the box on the first place, but it seems he continues just for the sake of routine...

Thank you everyone for your help!


My vet advised me to add a thin layer of "Dr Elsey's CatAttract" to the box. This is a litter designed (as I understand) to smell like the kinds of places favored by feral cats for their function.

It hasn't helped much, yet.

LATER: What worked, it seems, was cleaning the box more often (I had been doing it once a day). I'll continue to add CatAttract until it runs out.

  • How long have you been using it? Have you used it as directed? Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 16:41

I have a 7 year old cat who stopped using the litter box to defecate, and within another month, started urinating out of the box, as well. Going in very strange places – ex. on my butcher block cutting board, on the counters, on the carpet, sometimes close to the box, but rarely in it. I tried everything - changing diets, took him to the vet for blood work and xray to rule out disease or infection. Moved the litter box, changed the litter to natural, non-fragrance. I tried everything I could think of and read online. Finally, the vet prescribed Prozac 5mg a day – thought his problem was behavioral. It takes about a month to kick in, but after a month, he was still missing the box. I was at my wits end! I went to a Petco store, where I met a clerk who suggested the following - She said it worked for her cat. This was the end of the road for my cat, Jules, so we had nothing to lose:
I continued with the Prozac 5 mg a day (Vet prescribed). I bought a 3’ long x 2’ high x 2’wide wire dog kennel for $65 at Walmart. Put the litter box at the back of the kennel, and made a bed for him in the front of the kennel by the door.
I placed a small bowl of food between the bedding and the litter box in one corner, and a small bowl of water in the other corner – sandwiched between the rug/blanket and the litter box to avoid spills.
I covered most of the kennel on the outside with a couple of towels, so he would remain calm and sleep comfortably undistracted – leaving the front door area uncovered by the towel so he could look out and get fresh air.
I placed the kennel with the cat in a quiet room and closed the door. Consider where you put the kennel, because this will be where you leave the litter box from now on, even after your cat is re-programmed. I checked on him often. This is not punishment - it’s reprogramming your cat to use the litterbox.
My cat stayed in the kennel, night and day for 4- 5 days. I cleaned the litter box every time he went in it – change it about once a week. I use non-fragrance Little Kitty clumping litter, sold at Walmart. Changed the water twice a day and made sure he had enough food twice a day. He started using the litter box every time - So far so good.
After 4-5 days, I allowed him to leave the kennel, to roam freely in the same small room where the kennel remained – but that’s all. Keep the room door shut, but check to make sure he’s using the litter box left in the open kennel with the food and bedding. After a couple days of that, I decided to let him upstairs into the gated kitchen where I could supervise him when I was in the room with him. That went well, too. – When I could no longer supervise him, I put him back downstairs in his kennel room for the night. This went on for another few days or so, to make sure he used the litter box in the kennel at all times.
It’s been well over a month that he’s been roaming freely around the house unsupervised, but he continues to go back to the kennel litterbox in the room where he was re-trained. HE HASN’T HAD AN ACCIDENT IN OVER A MONTH!!!! I still give him the Prozac, and leave the kennel up – I’m afraid to change that – I don’t want him getting confused again. But, my cat actually loved sleeping in the kennel – he felt very secure in there – even when the door was open. The litter box is still in the kennel with his bedding. I have another cat, and another litter box in the same room, but Jules doesn’t use the one outside the kennel.
I hope you are willing to try this – it was the only thing that worked for Jules! He’s now a very happy, well-adjusted cat again. I thank God every day.


I think Keltari has some good ideas....

A cat can change its "taste" in litter material.

Also arthritis can make a cat not want to step into the box.

Straining can make a cat not want to use a box (but in that case the poop would seldom be near the box... more likely on some soft comfy surface).

Dementia can make a cat poop outside, again typically not near the box...

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