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Poop problems!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
We live in the country, and over the last year and a half, two cats have "adopted" us - they started wandering into our house and making themselves at home. We have five other cats, aside from the two walk-ins. All are spayed/neutered (the two walk-ins were neutered once they were comfortable enough around us that we could cage them).

The latest walk-in (he's about a year old) is having some problems with the litter box. When he first started sleeping in the house a few weeks ago, he'd poop/pee on the kitchen floor (the kitchen is the room closest to the door with the cat flap). We figured that 1) the other cats weren't used to him yet, and were giving him a hard time and 2) he didn't know where the litter boxes were. So, we put a temporary litter box in the kitchen, gradually moving it to a more hygenic place near the back door over the course of a few days. We would also keep showing him where the regular boxes were (the boxes are usually kept in the basement - we have a small house, and don't want to have to smell fresh cat poops in the middle of eating!).

This arrangement, with the cat box near the back door, was working fine for a while. Of course the newcomer wasn't the only one to use the box, all the other cats had to take part in it too. We took him to get fixed last week, and he checked out fine by the vet - but after he got back home, he started pooping inappropriately again - but now it's in the middle of the bathroom rug instead of the kitchen. The poops aren't hard or mushy, they're normal.

It happened again just a few minutes ago - all the other cats were asleep, so nobody was blocking access to any of the litter boxes (we still have the one near the back door, even though we'd like to move it back downstairs), and the boxes are all clean.

I'm really not sure what else I can do to get the guy using the box properly - he knows what it's for, I've seen him use it. He's still not quite settled with the other cats (some growling/cowering at times), but again - he was using the box fine before he was neutered, and now he's not. I'm also of course worried about this spreading to other areas of the house. The only thing I think I haven't tried is containing him by himself for a few days, and I don't really have to space to be able to do that.

Any assistance or advice is greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 10
Well, this is a tough one. Not being able to confine him complicates things.

Have you cleaned up the places he's peed and pooped with an enzyme cleaner? This is a must. Anything else used to clean can make it smell OK to our noses, but not kitty's nose - and the smell will keep encouraging him to go there or near there.

Nature's Miracle is an example of an enzyme cleaner sold at most pet stores or supermarkets. We use Nok-Out and order it online: There's also Anti-Icky-Poo which also supposedly works great:

At that same catfaeries site, you can purchase flower essences. You might consider trying the Multicat Harmony essences.

I'd also consider purchasing Feliway - also available at catfaeries, though it's pretty much available everywhere these days. Feliway is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" marker in cats' cheeks. Sprayed at cat height around the house - avoiding places where it is appropriate to scratch or pee or poop might help. It will likely help all the cats feel less stress at newbie's presence (and will help him too). But it often also discourages inappropriate peeing or pooping.

Of course - sometimes it doesn't.

What you did - putting the litter box by the backdoor - was great. Because the next step in getting a kitty to use a box is to put it where he's going, then slowly move it to where you want it.

The other suggestions when inappropriate elimination takes place are to put something down that discourages going where they shouldn't. We use aluminum foil - but if kitty is going on hard surfaces, this probably won't do the trick. If he's going fairly consistently in one or a couple of places, perhaps consider purchasing one of those mats that goes under a rolling chair that sits on carpet - and cutting it to a useful size for the space and turning it upside down? I know that means the people in the house have to pick it up any time you walk into the bathroom for a few weeks but.......

I"d also consider purchasing a black light to go through the house to make sure you've found all the spots he's peed or sprayed. It really is important to get all of it with an enzyme cleaner.

The only other thing I can think of, apart from isolating him, which isn't an option, is any time you do see him use the box, praise him to high heaven and give him some treats. Positive reinforcement can go a long way.

Ummmm.... if you see him actually poop outside the box, grab paper towels and the cat, and put the poop in a box so he sees you do it. If possible, take his paws and help him cover the poop in the box and then praise him to heck and give him treats.

I gotta say - this is really weird. Because most ferals are taught by their mums to cover what they eliminate. The only thing I can think is that he's a stray that wasn't taught by his mum. And the only real way to teach him - if the recommendations above didn't work or don't work - is to put him in a large cage or small room by himself so he doesn't really have a choice about using the box.

Also, if he does keep going in one place, and it isn't a heavily trafficked area (by the cats), another thing to consider is oil of olbas. Cats HATE the scent, and it will definitely keep him away from that area. You'd get it at a health food store, drop some drops on a wet tea bag, and set that on a small plate on the area (after cleaning with enzyme cleaner).

But if he's randomly pooping and not using the box - other than working with him, supervised in a room for a few days, I don't really know what else to suggest.

Hope any of these ideas help,

post #3 of 10
....although... poop is often used as a territory marker by cats. Neutering will help reduce his need to mark territory (though unneutered males usually mark territory by spraying, poop can still be a territory marker they use). It can take a few weeks for the hormones to cycle out of his system once he's spayed - so the matter may actually resolve itself in a few weeks. But the Feliway and other stuff won't hurt in the meantime.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much! I forgot to mention that I do usually use Nature's Miracle, though it didn't occur to me to toss some into the washing machine when I washed the bathroom rug - I'll do that!

I'll continue to monitor him over the next few weeks, and look for those other options you mentioned.
post #5 of 10
Pop back in from time to time - others may have more (or better) ideas!

Best of luck,

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well, I'm still having no luck with the little guy.

We were able to borrow a large cage and put it in our basement near the other litter boxes - this cage was big enough for a large litter box, a sleeping pad, and an eating area. We kept him in there for five days (with regular visitations), and he used the box properly during that time. We took that time to thoroughly clean anywhere he peed or pooped, with a multitude of cleaning products (including Nature's Miracle).

Tonight, we let him out. After a few hours, he went and pooped right in the kitchen again.

I really don't know what else to do!
post #7 of 10
Thats a lot of cats, and a lot of kitty territory! I don't know how big your home is, or if they are indoor/outdoor, but if I am correct, 8 cats in a home is a lot and there can be a bit of a battle or territorial rights. In general, if you move a cats litter box temporarily, they tend to use it to remark the area. The newbie kitty is probably feeling threatened and scared to use the litter boxes, and even though you have tried to give him his own, ofcourse the others are going to mark it since it is in their home. I don't know what to suggest, but possible temporary seperation for a while......
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
They're indoor/outdoor out here (they're all fixed, and we live in the country - more cats keep coming to adopt us!) - and there's been no spats at all for a while, they've even started snuggling.

We did have him separated already - the 5 days in the large cage bit - and really the only thing I can think of is to leave him in there even longer, which breaks my heart
post #9 of 10
Have you put the litter box back in the kitchen?

And one last suggestion. Try purchasing "Cat Attract" litter. This product seems to really help kitties with inappropriate elimination problems. It's expensive - but so far it has proven its worth time and again. It is really worth a try.

post #10 of 10
Cat Attract is my suggestion, too. You can buy it as litter or as a litter additive. It is spendy but it doesn't usually take long. Please do let us know how things are going.
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