Switching litter for an "outside the box" cat

One of my cats, Mosby (the gray one), is an outside-the-box pooper. In the overall scheme of things, it’s not the worst problem in the world. A) He pees in the box. B) The litter box is in a bathroom, so it’s easy to clean up when he poops on the floor.

Nonetheless, if we could get him to poop in the box, that would be dandy. Mosby shares a box with Julian (the orange one). We have two boxes. Both use both boxes. I don’t think it’s a cleanliness issue, because many is the time I’ve scooped the box and added fresh litter only to have Mosby poop on the floor moments later.

We thought we’d try switching litter, but I’m wondering if there is anything in particular I should try. I really don’t want to go the route of one of the non-clay litters, so my first attempt would be to try a different scoopable littler. (Right now, I buy the bulk litter from Petco.)

Any suggestions about what to try? Or is it just a crap shoot, so to speak?

Does he always poop outside the box? I’ve had long-haired cats with unfortunate hygiene habits who sometimes get a trailing chunk of poo when it sticks in their fur and they don’t notice. Also, is your litter scented, and how is it for dust? I don’t know how yours are, but my cats don’t dig when they pee, only when they poop, so those two factors might make a difference. I use “Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Precious Cat Unscented Scoopable” litter (had to go read it off a bag) because it’s low-dust and has no scent.

And, regardless of the fact that we’re discussing their toilet habits, your cats are beautiful creatures! I love the “Oh my GOD! You were in the place with the WATER!” looks they’re giving you in the picture.

I think he always poops outside the box. I’ve never caught him pooping in it, at least. Mosby doesn’t have the poop/fur problem, thank goodness, because Julian is the king of dingleberries. :frowning:

A low-dust, unscented littler would be a place to start. I don’t find what I’m using highly scented or dusty, but I’m not a cat.

What’s your objection to the non-clay litters? I’ve not tried them myself, but I’ve often heard that cats prefer it to clay litters, plus it’s clumping AND flushable.

I guess I wouldn’t write them off right off the bat. Organic-material litters are low-dust, too.

What kind of non-clay litters would you recommend? I wouldn’t mind going non-clay myself, but my experiences have been less than stellar. I tried one that was made of corn (if I recall correctly), and it stank in a way that I am not able to describe adequately. It also didn’t so much clump as it…sogged. I also tried a ridiculously expensive one made of walnut shells, but it comes in little pellets and I wasn’t able to sift all the poo out of it, because my cats’ poop also sometimes includes little pellets of similar size and color.

I think I’m afraid of what InternetLegend just related – expensive and a PITA to deal with.

Flushable would be awesome, though. I used to buy a flushable clay litter, but then they stopped making it (or my store stopped carrying it.)

Is he standing in the box and pooping over the side or standing away from the box when he poops?
I had a cat that did the former quite a bit. I built a little platform for the box with sides to minimize the overpooping.

Is he the dominant cat? I read somewhere that the dominant cat will leave thier poop uncovered. My boss kitty did that but left them in the box, not on the floor.

Maybe he’s trying to show the other cat who is boss.

Hmmm, River Hippie, I never thought about the dominance issue. He’s completely outside the box when he poops. Definitely not a case of missing the target.

He does attempt to cover his poop. If there’s even a little bit of spilled litter on the floor, he’ll rake that over to cover it.

Is there any consistency or similarities to the places he poops? (location, floor covering, etc.) If so, and if just for experimentation you were to put a box in that location and/or with a similar flooring, it’d be interesting to see if he’d poop in it, or just poop elsewhere.

Just to consider:

We had a cat with the same issue. But he had a bigger problem in that he was depressed. Like extremely depressed. He was my first husband’s cat and he never got over losing his person.

When I told the vet about the problem, she said that anti-depressants actually work really well to control behavioral issues but don’t do a whole lot for mood issues in cats.

So, I’m not trying to say he’s depressed, but bring it up with your vet and bring up any other behavioral issue too. There might be a treatment for some underlying problem.

And he’s beautiful. :slight_smile:

Voltaire, the boxes in the basement were on a concrete floor, and he pooped outside that box, too. Now that I’ve moved one box upstairs, he prefers to not poop in the upstairs box. :stuck_out_tongue:

jsgoddess, hugs to your kitty. I don’t think Mosby’s depressed. And he’s been pooping on the floor for a long time. It’s just that when both boxes were both in the basement, it really didn’t matter. It was very easy to clean up.

A rule of thumb with cats is one box each plus one. If it’s at all possible to add a third box, that might help. Or maybe temporarily use a third box to try new litters?

I use World’s Best Multi-Cat (red on a black bag), it clumps like nobody’s business and the cats seem to like it. No problems in a four-cat house, anyway. It’s a corn based litter but heavier than some of the other grain types while still lighter than clay clumping stuff. (I don’t like Feline Pine or Swheat Scoop or the stuff by Arm-N-Hammer)

I wonder if Cat-Attract litter would help. Here’s their page on where to start. Are your litter boxes covered? Try uncovering them and see what he does, this is one of the first things my behaviorist-friend recommends to people during her professional consultations.

Your kitties are beautiful. Tell Mosby, “You are a beautiful kitty cat, and yet you are a disgusting floor-shitter. Can you not grasp the incongruity here?”

Urghh, that’s a hard one. I had a cat that used to get IN the box and then poop over the side! He always peed in the box, no problem. I called him the “Boat cat” 'cause it was like he was pooping over the side of the boat. Tried just about everything but nothing worked until I got a huge plastic bin from Home Depot to use as a litter box and even then, it was 50/50. I put the litter pan inside the tub in the extra bathroom.

I also had another cat that liked to poop on cold, smooth surfaces - concrete floor, in the bathtub, occasionally the kitchen sink. I’ve heard of cats doing this before. I just started leaving a towel in the kitchen sink so he wouldn’t use it, but resigned myself to him using the bathtub much of the time. Easy clean-up!

Guess I don’t have much to suggest but I share your pain! :slight_smile:

This thread has led to a solution for one person. An acquaintance’s cat has become an outside-the-box cat. She’s tried various litters with no results. Today I mentioned some ideas from this thread, including putting a towel or paper around the box to ease cleanup. She suddenly realized that the litter box was sitting on one of those “get your indoor dog to relieve himself here” mats. For some reason, her mother had purchased one and put it under the litter box.

Maybe he likes flat surfaces; the fact that he is the one WITHOUT the dingleberries might be a clue as to why. Maybe try, as suggested, a third pan…but empty? If that doesn’t work, then yeah, it can always be used for trying out different litters.

Good luck; they are beautiful!

I have tried this on numerous occasions. He just doesn’t get it. Actually, I think what’s going through his head is, “I’m a beautiful kitty cat, and I’ll shit where I please.” :stuck_out_tongue:

SeaDragonTattoo, the World’s Best brand was one I was going to try. The cat-attract stuff is made by Dr. Elsey, the brand InternetLegend mentioned. I think my PetCo carries both. The World’s Best is supposed to be flushable, too.

I think I need to either add a box OR switch litters, but not both at once, lest I not be able to tell what’s working or not working.

I would add a box and leave it empty. Try that in a few different places. Then if that doesn’t attract him, fill it with the same litter. Then if that doesn’t attract him, put a different litter just in that box.

We have two cats. The dominated one often goes outside the box, and likes the bathroom sink. We’ve always kept three litter boxes, and I’ve tried a lot of things. We have a covered box, which boss cat hogs for himself, a small box placed up high where the dominated cat can go while keeping an eye out for boss cat, and recently we replaced the third litter box with a freakishly large one. So far, this combination is working best of all.

Some cats like/need a bigger box.

Yeah, we have two of the big top-load boxes because one of our little freaks needs to paw and dig and paw and dig and paw AND DIG AND PAW at the litter. :smiley: