Defecation Issues

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Oct 20th, 2009 09:51
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Our 8 year old obese (19 lbs) dilute calico has a problem that is increasing in frequency. It started maybe 8 months ago. She will poop outside of the litter box. None of the usual causes are suspected. We have 6 cats & 6 litterboxes throughout the house. They are cleaned twice daily. The litter is also disposed of and the boxes are washed monthly. The litter is a brand they all enjoy and does not have strong odors. We even have a large "doggie" sized litter pan since she is pretty large. She will poop in the litter box but not entirely. She used to start in one box, run to another box, and finish. Occasionaly we would find poop in the box & also directly outside of it. We figured that she wasn't done and had a little accident. Now it is apparent that she is doing this on purpose. She will poop a little in the box & finish the bulk of it somewhere in the corner on the carpet. She would do this about once a week usually in the early morning (If I am awake, she will use the litter box completely). Now it seems as though she is doing this more frequently and finding more places to poop on the carpet. We even added small litter boxes in the places she would go on the carpet. It is a healthy stool and is not diarrhea. She is healthy in all other respects. I don't think she was spooked in the litter box since she does use them to pee and to partially poop. She does not go outside. Because she is obese, she cannot clean herself either and we must keep her clean down there. Any ideas to this strange behavior? I can only think to confine her during the early morning to an area with no carpet (only the bedrooms are carpeted). She may still do this on a rug however. I cannot possibly add more litter boxes to every corner of the house. How can I make her litter boxes even more inviting to her without locking her in a room? We hate to do that to her, but we also hate all the clean-up. Thank you!
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Oct 20th, 2009 16:01
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Has the cat been checked for diabetes? It's common in older cats. How about a food allergy? Has the vet checked for a bowel or digestive problem? What is her stool like: loose, firm, or hard - dark or light?
I'm peppering you with questions because I've had so many diseases, including diabetes, that I know far more than most people about cat ailments.
Are you sure SHE still likes the litter? Cat opinions can change. What brand do you use? (For conventional litter boxes, I prefer Yesterday's News - great odor control, no inherent aroma in it, & you can feel noble because it's recycled newspaper. But now I use a SmartCatBox with shelled corn as litter; it has a reservoir for the liquid & the litter air-dries. I bought it when I had a FeLV-positive cat living with a Negative cat.)
If she's not sick, & there's no physical reason for this problem, then she needs some strong aversion therapy.
First: take away all the litter boxes except the original set. You're being way too accommodating.
Second: Wash the boxes more often; use a cleaner that removes pet odors. For a multiple-cat household like yours (6 is a lot of cats), monthly isn't enough. Up it to every 1-2 weeks. She may be smelling the boxes. (I only have 2 cats & 1 litter box, & I wash it every week.) (Also: how old are the boxes? After awhile, plastic will hold an odor permanently; you may need to replace some of them.)
Third: Put her on a diet, if she isn't on one already. Give her "light" food or a food for obese cats from the vet's (Hills is the most common), & cut her food; ask the vet how much she actually needs. My cats are on a diet, & they get 1/8 cup of dry food twice a day, & they're very active & healthy. (In fact, feed all the cats a limited diet at specified times, it's more healthy for them.)
Here's my home-grown Aversion Therapy:
"Bad things happen to me when I do this forbidden thing." I used it on one of my (past) cats, and broke her of a bad piddling habit in a week flat. It sounds harsh, but it won't hurt.
You're going to need to tie up a bathroom for 1-2 hours.

You'll be punishing the cat by depriving her of food & attention & isolating her.
When she does the forbidden thing (pooping outside the box, whatever):
Grab her immediately, by the scruff of the neck: this is a "Mother" action, & you are Mother. You don't have to lift her, just immobilize her.
Whap her (in a firm manner) on the nose w/your finger, enough to make her understand. Speak very sternly - yell, if that makes an impression: "NO! BAD FLUFFY! BAD CAT! DO NOT poop outside the box!! I will NOT have you pooping outside the box!! BAD CAT!!"

Pick her up, still holding by the scruff of the neck, the other hand supporting the body. No matter how much she swears at you, don't let go.

March her into the bathroom, plop her on the floor, & order her to "Stay there!" Then turn on the light & close the door.
Leave her alone in the room for at least an hour. Ignore all cries & yowls.

Then let her out - just go by & open the door without looking inside. She'll creep out slowly, wondering what she's going to find.

Ignore her, for at least 2 hrs. Do not speak to her, pet or play with her, anything. Pretend she doesn't exist.

If it's near mealtime, don't feed her - denial of food always gets a cat's attention. It won't hurt her to miss a meal (every few meals) (especially at her weight), and it'll make a point, coming right on the heels of the time in the cells (bathroom).

After 2-3 hrs, you may talk to her again, but don't be overly attentive: be civil. Make her realize that you're still mad. By morning (or evening, if the incident happened in the morning), go back to treating her as normal.

And every time she pulls the same thing, send her to their cell again, the same way, with the same aftermath.

This may make an impression, & convince the cat that doing the Forbidden Thing isn't fun enough to make up for the nasty treatment she gets afterward.

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Oct 20th, 2009 17:59
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Thank you Ahtnamas for the advice. Her name is Girl-Girl by the way. :)
She was checked for diabetes and everything else about 3 yrs ago when we were trying to figure out why she might be so fat (she really doesn't eat much). Everything came back negative but she should probably get a full blood panel again. We havn't tested for a food allergy or digestive problems. Her stool is firm to hard and darker in color but not black.
I don't think she has a problem with the litter since she uses it to pee and MOSTLY poop in. It is a clumping brand I got at Costco with lemongrass in it (I think it is called Litter Purrfect). The difference is that she exclusively uses the litterboxes since she does not go outside like the others do, which probably is why she is so big. She literally lays around ALL DAY. When I clean the boxes, I use dish soap and vinegar. The boxes are old and probably do need to be replaced.
As far as the diet goes, it will be hard since we free feed and all the other cats are within their normal weight range. We also feed them wet food at night and I control her portions of that food. I don't think she eats that much dry food but I'm not there 24-7 to know for sure. She does do the pooping accidents when I am either sleeping or gone. If I am around in the early morning (when she usually goes) she will do it in the litterbox (or two) and have no accidents. She is sneaky about it. I did yell at her this morning and showed her what she did as well as gently spanked her. My concern is that she will not understand and will fear me. You're right I have to avert the behavior right when it happens which is hard since she usually does it when I'm not available to see it happen. I think I will have my husband confine her with the litter box when he leaves for work but before I wake up, which is when she does it.
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