Occasional Pooping on One Rug

by Steve Kates
(Boca Raton, FL)

Our cat problems only occur every now and then - our 2.5 year old female Russian Blue cat occasionally poops on our dining room rug; she always uses her box for urinating. Usually, the pooping follows our vacation absence (she is cared for here at home) or when overnight guests leave.

We have provided her with 2 boxes, and we mix litter of World's Best cat litter with Pine sawdust. Both boxes are cleaned weekly, even though the litter labels suggest every 30 days.

She has always been shy with people other than ourselves, and she will hide when visitors come to the house.

We were advised to close her into a room with litter, food/water (and yes, play with her) for a week but she already knows where her boxes are, and how to use them. This is only occasional bad behavior, although for the past three days, she has done this (our weekend guests left four days ago).

Reply from Liz (editor): I'm pretty sure these cat problems are anxiety-related, I don't think they're due to litter box problems, and if I'm right, the advice you were given above won't help to solve them.

She displays this behavior basically when she's stressed - i.e. when you go away or when visitors come round (Russian Blue cats are known for being very shy and uncomfortable around strangers). The behavior doesn't instantly stop after the cause of the stress has gone (i.e. you returning or visitors leaving) because she's taking a little while to get over it.

Obviously you can't stop going away occasionally or having people round to your house (!) so you need to look at how to reduce her anxiety levels and discourage her at the same time to stop using the rug as a toilet! A couple of suggestions that may help:

  • A Feliway diffuser or spray may help. It's a cat pheromone substitute, available either online or from good pet stores. Humans can't smell it, but it has a calming, soothing effect on many cats. Buying the plug-in and putting it on a couple of days before guests come round, or before you go away, then keeping it on during and a few days after, may just calm her enough to stop her. It doesn't work on every cat, but I think in your cat's case it's worth a try.

  • When guests are around, eliminate her stress as much as possible. This may mean asking guests not to pet her, or even keeping her out of the way for some of the time while they're in the house.

  • Get rid of the smell of poop from the rug completely. This is very important - if she can even smell the faintest whiff she'll think it's OK to poop there again. This page on the website - how to clean cat urine - will give you some ideas on how to do this successfully.

  • Once the rug is completely clean, put her food bowl in the spot where she was pooping. If she was pooping in more than one spot, divide her food up between several bowls and put one bowl on each spot. This only need be a temporary measure until she's un-learned the habit of pooping in those spots, but it's very effective in solving these types of cat problems. Cats hate eating anywhere that they can smell pee or poop, so putting her food there will really help to break the habit.

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