My Cat is Pooping Outside His Litter Box: Causes, Solutions and Expert Tips

If you’re a new cat owner, you may experience your furry friend pooping outside his litter box for the first time. It’s easy to clean up the waste and move on.

But if this becomes a regular occurrence, it can get very frustrating, especially if you can’t pinpoint the exact cause. You need to find a solution.

In this article, we explain why your cat could be pooping outside his litter box, some solutions, and, as a bonus, what the ideal cat litter box setup looks like.

Reasons Why a Cat Would Poop Outside His Litter Box

It can be frustrating if your cat poops outside of his litter box repeatedly, and you’d probably want to solve this mystery as soon as possible. 

But before you change the box or the litter itself, it helps to take a step back and understand why your cat is doing it. This includes changes in the environment, health reasons, and emotional reasons.

Environmental Reasons

Your cat may be pooping outside the litter box as there may have been a change in his environment. Read about the common changes below.

Not Used to Litter Boxes

If you adopt a cat that’s used to roaming outside, he may take a while to adapt to using the litter box. Moreover, some cats that have been recently adopted may feel disoriented and may not go to the toilet the right way at first. 

You can show your new furry friend where the litter box is. If need be, place him gently in it and he may use it. 

Changes in the House

Two men carrying furniture

Sometimes, a big change in the house, such as the introduction of a new cat, someone moving in, or even when you shift furniture around can cause the cat to be uneasy. 

Litter and Litter Box Preferences

Some cats are picky when it comes to their litter box and may not like either their box, the litter, or both. This may be due to their preferences, such as wanting to have more space to relieve themselves, or the scent of their litter. 

Emotional Reasons

Feeling fearful, frustrated or stressed may cause your furry friends to act out by pooping outside the litter box. Some common reasons include the following.

Fear and Stress

Loud noises and strangers that walk past the litter box could result in a stray lump being dumped outside the box. This typically happens in younger cats or even older cats that are a little skittish in nature. 

Territorial Behavior

A cat may poop out of his litter box when he feels like he doesn’t have enough space in the house. This happens especially when there’s a new cat. Or perhaps it’s the new cat that’s finding it difficult to share a space with a more domineering cat.

Health Reasons

Cats are masters of hiding their ailments, and while they seem to be happy and healthy on the surface, they may not be able to hide it when relieving themselves. Here are some common health problems that may affect how they eliminate waste.


Cat lying on a pavement

If your cat is older, he may poop outside the litter box because he has arthritis and can’t climb into the box anymore. 

Stomach Issues

Your cat may be unwell and may suffer from common stomach ailments, such as constipation or diarrhea.

Constipated cats may leave the litter box earlier than they should and cause leftover poop to drop on the floor. Those with diarrhea may rush to the box and not make it there in time, leaving a watery stool on the floor. 

Ways to Stop Your Cat From Pooping Outside His Litter Box

Now that you know some of the reasons why cats may poop outside the litter box, it’s time to evaluate the next step — a solution! 

Wait for your cat to poop outside the litter box again, or recreate the scene of the crime — try as much as possible to remember the exact location of the poop and if there were any environmental factors influencing it. 

Perhaps there was another cat nearby that was watching your cat poop. Taking in all possible factors into consideration will allow you to come up with a suitable solution. 

Solutions for Environmental Reasons

If you’ve ruled out behavioral and health issues, perhaps your furry friend could do with a change of environment. Let’s have a look at some common solutions that will stop your cat from pooping outside his litter box.

Clean litter box more regularly

Person cleaning a cat's litter box

Some cats don’t like pooping in a litter box when it’s full or dirty, and may “protest” by pooping outside it. You can remedy this by scooping the litter boxes more often so that your cat can relieve himself in comfort.

Find a new location

Some cats like to relieve themselves in silence or in a peaceful environment. Move the litter box where there is less noise and foot traffic. Show your cat where it is and see if it makes a difference.

Add or change a new litter box

Perhaps one litter box is not enough, or your cat doesn’t like his box. If you have multiple cats, try adding a litter box so that your furry friend has more space to relieve himself. 

Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a certified cat behaviorist, suggests having one more box than the number of cats. This means that if you have 1 cat, you’ll need 2 litter boxes. If you have 2 cats, you’ll need 3, and so on.

If not, try a different kind of litter box and see if your fur baby takes to it.

Add or change a new litter

Person pouring litter into litter box

It could be that your cat doesn’t like the litter he has to relieve himself in because of the texture of odor. Try out a different brand to see if he likes others better.

Chunkier cats may need more litter in the box as they don’t like stepping in and sinking down. Cat litter should range from 5cm to 8cm in depth.

Having liners in litter boxes is highly discouraged as cats may scratch it in an effort to bury their litter. Liners can also cause discomfort and feel unsatisfying to your cat because they may not successfully bury their litter.

Solution for Emotional Reasons: Manage Stress or Anxiety

Find out what’s making your feline friend anxious. For example, you’ve realized that your cat may be afraid of people. 

Or perhaps something bad happened while he was relieving himself and you have no clue what it is. You may want to spray a cat diffuser around the litter box to show him that his environment is safe. You can also reward him with treats and praise every time he eliminates correctly.

Solution for Health Reasons: Talk To a Vet

Owner and cat at the vet

If your cat is still popping outside the litter box on a regular basis and there are no major changes in his environment, then it’s best to talk to a vet. 

Your vet may be able to shed some light on why your fur baby isn’t pooping at the right spot. It can also help to bring a stool sample to the vet.

The Ideal Litter and Litter Box For Your Cat

If you think there’s something wrong with your litter box setup, this section is for you. We detail the best litter boxes and litter for your cat. According to Jackson Galaxy, he pointed out that many cat owners choose to set up litter boxes for their benefit, and not for their cat’s.  

To help you make an informed decision, read on to learn about the criteria for the ideal litter and litter boxes.  

You’ve gone shopping and there are so many litter boxes to choose from, but which is the right one for your cat? It’s best that your litter box needs to meet the following criterion:

  • Large and uncovered

Generally, a cat owner’s best bet would be a large litter box with no lid. Large litter boxes ensure that there’s enough space for your cat to relieve himself. 

Cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett recommends that the litter box should be 1.5 times the length of the cat from the nose’s tip to the tail’s base.

Our recommendations below:

ASEO Litter Tray Jumbo (Grey)
BOER Litter Box with Scoop (Green)
product image - ASEO Litter Tray Jumbo (Grey)
product image - BOER Litter Box with Scoop (Green)

We recommend litter to fulfill these criteria:

  • Smooth texture

Some cats are picky and would refuse to use the litter box because the litter hurts their paws. Thus, litter that’s soft and smooth is ideal. 

  • Unscented

Try not to choose scented litter as cats react strongly to these smells and may choose not to use their boxes.

Here are some of the best cat litter products that we recommend:

Breeder Celect Cat Litter 30L
Tofu Litter Natural 7L
product image - Breeder Celect Cat Litter 30L
product image - Tofu Litter Natural 7L

FAQ about Cats Pooping Outside The Litter Box

Show your cat where the location of the box is. If possible, carry your cat and place him gently in the litter box. If he doesn’t like being carried, lure him towards the box with a toy and praise him when he steps in the litter.

It’s not advisable to yell or punish your cat for not using the litter box as it’s damaging to your relationship with him.

Instead, it’s better to find out why your cat is not using it and make the necessary changes. Remember to praise and reward your cat for using the litter box.

Cats instinctively know where to poop. Simply show them where the litter box is and they can eliminate their waste accordingly.

Cats don’t poop outside their litter boxes on purpose; it’s usually a sign indicating that something is wrong. They may be facing a health issue or there may be environmental changes that makes them feel unsafe to relieve themselves.


  • Shi Min


    Shi Min is a writer. You may have read her first book, Dragonhearted, which was published in 2016. It won the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book in 2018. In her spare time, she hugs cats, bakes lemony goodness, and plays tabletop games of all kinds.

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