Hi guys, can someone please give me some answers. My 11 year old cat one day poo'd on the floor. We didn't really think much about it other than the fact she must have not been able to make it to the litter box. Well, a couple weeks later, we switched her over to grain-free (My kitten has been on it and I didn't want my childhood cats on the terrible Meow Mix they'd been on no longer. Also my eldest cat was having some throwing up problems all her life, quickly cleared up once we switched by the way) and she had some diarrhea and once again wasn't making it to her litter box, she poo'd all over my brothers bed. On the floor a couple times, so we just assumed it was from the transition or something and also the fact that she is getting older. She would go in the litter box at the same time though, even when she was pooping on the floor, she'd pee in the litter box. Well one night, she went into the litter box and then after jumped on my Dad's bed and pee'd all over it. So we took her into the vet and she had some kind of infection (they weren't very specific so I can't tell you what also they told my dad and not me) and gave her some antibiotic and a bunch of tests and sent her home. We were supposed to see what the antibiotic did for a month and then check back. Well it's been about a week and she's continuing to poop on the floor?! and tonight she pooped in my dad's closet and peed on his bed. Yet she'll go in the litter box like she has to go to the bathroom but doesn't go, and decides to go somewhere else. My Dad unfortunately doesn't have the money to be doing blood work and all that so I'm not sure why she's doing this? Today we bought a second litter box and put it in the area she likes to poo on the floor. She hasn't used it. Not sure what to do at this point. My Dad's saying he wants to put her down if it doesn't stop and that just pisses me off. You don't just kill a cat because they're a little sick. Especially since she could be pooping on the floor and be completely healthy? So can someone PLEASE give me some idea of why she could be doing this.
11 Year old cat
It sounds like something is causing her pain. I'm not sure if it's a urinary tract infection or something with her bowel movements, or both. What happens is she tries to go in her litter box, and she feels discomfort or pain, and she doesn't know what to do but thinks the litter box might be hurting her. So then she tries somewhere else to escape the pain.
Because she's mostly just pooping outside the litter box, not peeing, I would guess it's a constipation issue, but it could be diarrhea that's just uncomfortable. She may have also developed a urinary tract infection as well, and that's what the vet discovered and prescribed antibiotics for, and maybe didn't look for constipation signs. But that's just a guess based on what you've mentioned here. The reason I think it might be constipation is that when a cat has a hard stool in the way, sometimes softer stool will leak around it and it looks like diarrhea. And constipation usually causes pain but I don't know that diarrhea does. Pay attention to her stool to see if it's softer or harder than it used to be.
Either way, the health problem has to be fixed before you're going to be able to resolve the habit it created. One thing that will help a lot with both constipation and urinary issues is switching her to canned food if she's not eating it already. Hydration is really important for both of these conditions, and canned food is going to provide the moisture she needs, as well as probably having even fewer unhealthy ingredients. Fancy Feast classic pates are a good low cost canned option. A spoonful of canned pumpkin mixed in with her food could also help with diarrhea or constipation. Exercise is also helpful, especially if she's gotten less active as she's gotten older.
Even if the antibiotics did the trick and she's feeling better now, she's not going to go back to her litter box because she thinks it was the culprit. So introducing a new litter box in a new place is a good idea. Make sure it looks a bit different from the old one. Maybe try using Cat Attract brand litter. Also, make sure you clean any area where she went to the bathroom with an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle really thoroughly so she won't be able to smell any remains. But you do need to make sure she's healthy before trying to fix the behavior, otherwise she's just going to feel pain in the new litter box and avoid that one, too.
If you have any more details about the vet visit, what her stool looks like, how often she's going and if there's any pattern to where she's going, that would help us make a better guess at what's going on. I really hope your dad is not serious about putting her down! It's definitely not fun dealing with litter box issues, but it is very solvable! If worst comes to worst, please try to turn her over to a no kill shelter so she can be rehomed at the very least, but with some effort and patience I really don't think that will be necessary.
I agree with everything Molly92 has said.
If nothing else, give the antibiotic a chance. She's to be on it for a month, correct? Now, remember, many times antibiotics can cause gastric distress, so this may be contributing to any actual diarrhea she may have, but I agree that this may actually be cause from constipation, which is VERY common on older cats, especially ones on a lifetime of eating dry food.
Naturally your father isn't too please about having a cat going to the bathroom on his bed (or anywhere else outside of the litter box), but as long as YOU are cleaning it up with an enzymatic cleaner, then he should be okay with that. With time (and the right medication and food), this should eventually clear up.
Cat Attract litter supposedly works wonders. It's probably more expensive than you're used to, but you don't have to fill the box with it. I would just put about an inch in the top of the boxes to start. Or first just trust seeing how the newest box works.
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Since she's not reliably going in one spot, it sounds like her issues are not fixed yet. Usually cats should have a bowel movement every day. Hard, dry stools are a sign of constipation, although there could still be some mild constipation with moister stool. Other symptoms are straining during defecation, or she tries to go and nothing comes out. Yelping in pain, vomiting after straining, lack of appetite, and lethargy are symptoms of more serious constipation and need veterinary attention.
You can add water or broth (no added sodium) to her dry food, but just be careful not to leave it out too long and clean her bowls regularly because bacteria can grow easily on dry food with added moisture.
My cats had no idea what canned food was until I started researching cat nutrition and decided wet food was much better for them (IMHO). So, whether they wanted to or not, they were transitioned to wet food. It wasn't easy, but over time, we did it. And at that time, two of my cats were seniors, if I recall correctly, one was around 15 and one was maybe 12. Anyway, now if I show them kibble when a free sample comes in a box of litter or something, they want nothing to do with it
Here are tips on transition them from kibble to canned, AFTER transitioning them to scheduled feedings, which I'm guessing they would also need.
The REAL key to getting them to eat canned food is figuring out which type of food they like. Some cats like pate style, some like chunks, some like flakes. Some like chicken, some like turkey, some like beef, some like fish. In our household, every cat likes something different, so at mealtimes, each has their own bowl, and their own varieties that they eat. I even have to rinse off the spoon between fixing up their bowls or they "object". But at least I feel good about what they are eating. And with wet food it's SO much easier if you need to mix something into it (like pumpkin, or miralax, or sometimes even try to sneak in medicine)