Did you know that in 68% of US households, there are almost 100 million cats? Did you also know that at least 10% of these kitties has contributed to the poop cat-astrophe that kitty households have encountered at least once in their lifetime? Pooping on their owner’s bed is just one of many such encounters, which is worse than a cat urinating on a bed.
The Great Cat-astrophe
Consider this scenario. On a peaceful day, as we pass by our bedroom, minds up in the clouds – probably calculating budgets or workloads – our noses are assaulted by that distinctive smell of ammonia. True to our fear, we see a few dark brown nugget shapes on our bed – maybe even on our pillow.
That’s only the beginning.
You have probably seen your pet – or heard of a friend’s cat– taking a dump in the bed, while another kitty messed the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink or the laundry. Yet another cat had an accident by the closet door and still another on the carpet, the door or even on the staircase where somebody even stepped in the mess that one time they were too lazy to switch the lights on.
Your kitty – and your friend’s, or your friend-of-a-friend’s kitty –has probably taken a dump just about everywhere… except inside the litter box.
With a stinky problem like this, the first thing we often ask ourselves is “Why did my cat just poop on my bed?”
The Three Evils… Not
Of course, our kitties know nothing about good or evil. Unlike humans, cats only act on instinct and conditioning. We cannot scold our cat or talk to it like we do to our kids. A cat’s learning skill is similar to that of toddlers. However, we can still teach them to do things.
There are four factors that could affect our kitty’s toilet habits – age (or time), litter box and its location, health issues, and your kitty’s stress levels.
Is your kitty old or young? Young felines need an adjustment period when it comes to using the litter box. As they grow older, it supposedly gets easier for them to enter and make use of their kitty toilet.
For senior felines, however, their potty problems may be health-related – such as arthritis. Arthritic cats have difficulty getting into and out of the litter box, so you will need to introduce your old puss to a new litter box with lower sides.
If your kitten wants to go in its old litter box, but the sides are too high, you may need to cut a portion out so that the old cat can climb into it. Additionally, senior cats may lose their accuracy in “shooting their gunk”, so you should consider placing absorbent pads all around the box and even under it.
Older cats also have weaker senses compared to when they were younger, so this could be why your feline friend makes messy dumps. If your tabby is slower in feeling its way around due to old age, you should provide some night lighting to help your kitty pinpoint the exact location of their litter box. Some pet parents have even stuck rope lights on their walls to guide their cat all the way to the litter box.
Bowel consistency is also related to health issues and can cause a cat to poop outside their litter box. Young felines have a lower immune system, which makes them prone to a list of health problems, such as a sickness that has diarrhea symptoms.
With diarrhea, getting into the litter box in time is a challenge, so the only way to fix that problem is getting your kitty’s health checked by a vet.
On the other hand,older cats are prone to constipation. Constipation causes stress and discomfort, which will make your cat associate such negative sensations with the litter box. Additionally, because it takes some time for your cat to unload its bowels, it may make many attempts to discharge the troublesome nuggets whenever and wherever it can.
2. “This Toilet is Better”
If your feline friend has no health issues, then you may need to check out its “toilet” – the litter box. There are three factors that could make or break your fussy puss – and have it scurrying for another, “better” loo. These factors are the litter, the box, and the location.
- Two Inches Under
Does your kitty teeter along the sides or on the edge of its litter box? Does it seem in a hurry going in and out of its box, like it’s afraid that some creepy crawly critter will grab it while it unloads its turd? So much so that it may not even bother covering its deposit?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, then your furball may be having issues with the litter.
Cats are finicky to litter quality – whether because of the brand, the type of scent, the texture or even the material. Unlike humans who can use words to complain, the only thing tabbies can do to protest is by leaving you those wayward turds.
Identifying the specific litter box issue for your kitty may take a couple of weeks, as well as various litter boxes. Introduce your cat to a minimum of three litter boxes in one area of the house. Each box must have one different quality from the others, such as brand (brand A vs brand B vs brand C), scent (unscented vs natural grass vs pine), and texture (crystals vs gravel vs fine-grained).
Although each cat has their own preference, the usual choice is unscented, fine-grained litter piled two to three inches deep inside a litter box. Long-haired cats may prefer less than two inches litter in a rather slick-surfaced litter box.
After cleaning, refill and even out the litter to avoid kitty pee from pooling in the bottom of the box and making it stinky. Your cat will usually take around 20 seconds to cover its poop and pat down the litter and leave the box if it is fully satisfied.
- A Box of Evidence
Before changing your cat’s type of litter box, you may want to consider this first- how old and clean is your kitty’s toilet? Cats, like humans, are finicky and they are drawn to new and clean things. Having a litter box accumulate more than 24 hours of gunk can discourage your cat from enjoying its private time. If you have a fussier cat, you may even need to remove the used litter at least twice a day.
In addition to removing used litter regularly, have a general box cleaning at least once a month – weekly if the litter is non-clumping, since all of the litter will have to be replaced. You will also have to change the litter box from time to time if regular scrubbing no longer removes the stink. There is no need to use enzymatic fluids. Forget citrus scented-cleaners too, since cats dislike citrus fruits.
If you have been keeping your kitty’s litter box clean regularly, another problem could be the size and shape of the box itself. A box has to be at least 1.5 times the length of the cat for the kitty to find it comfortable to poop and pat. Linings, privacy, back and side heights, and even self-cleaning properties may be determined using the multi-litter box experiment.
- Moving Box
If changing boxes and litter still does not move your cat into the box, then it is possible that your kitty does not like its current location. This is especially true if your cat’s litter box is too far from its favorite haunt, which might mean that the poor puss has difficulty holding it in as it runs for a dump.
If your kitty makes use of its current litter box but is still pooping on your bed or some other areas outside of its dumping ground, then it may mean that your frisky feline wants a second litter box location – one that is more convenient for its daily rounds. This is especially true if your house is wide or multi-storied. Having additional litter boxes will be convenient for your kitty and it is recommended to have one litter box per floor.
If your home houses multiple cats, it is also ideal to have one litter box for each cat, plus one extra. Just be aware that cats are fussy with their own litter box. Don’t put all the litter boxes in the same room, or one “top cat” may decide to guard the facilities and keep the other cats away.
Another possible reason it does not like the location is the surroundings. A sudden uprising from the likes of nearby passing and honking cars, thuds from the washing machine, or surprising loud sounds that disturb its pooping time can be a cause for your cat to shun its current litter box location.
Even worse, if those sudden sounds happened during its first pooping experience in the box, it could associate the litter box with such traumatic events and will totally refuse the whole set.
Do you place litter boxes near your kitty’s feeding bowls? Chances are your fur ball would either not eat, or would pick a different poop depository, so keep the food bowl and the litter box in two separate areas of the house. If your cat fancies a place where placing the litter box is possible, try moving the litter box to that area.
Did you do a little bit of decorating before the cat-astrophe occurred, and did your kitty do the deed in an area near the newly-rearranged spot? Chances are the puss just found itself a new and better location.
If it is possible to relocate the litter box to that area, then do so. Otherwise, have that “new” area thoroughly cleaned and unavailable to the kitty, and retrain your feline to its litter box.
Cats are sensitive and temperamental, so you must identify the mood or trigger that caused your kitty to turn your bed into a toilet.
New kitties may carry with them litter box preferences, as well as traumatic experiences from whence they came. You may need to consult with the shelter, the sanctuary, or the cattery where you got your kitty and trace any litter box issues for easier correction.
Cats also prefer to deviate from their habits when they are stressed. They may spray in the wrong places; they may urinate and defecate outside their litter boxes, andhide or barely show their faces to us afterward. Cat parents have to investigate the cause of their stress through the hints they give.
Here are some of the stressors that will cause them to leave landmines outside their litter box:
Some of these traumas have been mentioned above, such as constipation, sudden thuds, and even surprises. But what if it has to do with thunder?
Fortunately, thunder is not a frequent phenomenon (unless you live in a place where thunderstorms are commonplace). One option is to have your kitty readjusted to thunderstorms, and at the same time, use a quick-escape type of litter box so your kitty can easily run off. Another is to relocate the litter box into a place where they may feel safer.
- Newcomers in their territory
Your kitty is sensitive to new faces so a new family member like a baby, a relative or friend staying over, or even a new pet can cause your kitty to feel stressed. Aside from spraying on its territory, the puss may also place stink bombs all over as if to say “This is my spot – you better introduce yourself properly!”
Gradually introducing the newcomers to your feline friend will help your kitty adjust.
- Missing link
Cats are sensitive to absent household members as well. A change in the number of people your kitty lives with can affect its toileting habits. Spending a week out of town away from them, for example, might make them want to leave their spoils on your bed.
Kitties are used to the mingling of their scents with their usual companions, so they are actually reassuring themselves of your presence by mingling their poop with their own owner’s not-so-distinctive scent.
- Bullies and Other Critters
Most multiple-cat households will face this issue. Cats tend to have hierarchies, so it is important to know their territories, as well as who is higher than who.
Inter-kitty disputes tend to happen when a newcomer enters the home, so it’s recommended to gradually introduced them. Feuding cats, on the other hand, have to be separated for a while and may even require retraining for their litter boxes.
One thing is for sure – felines are fussy with their litter boxes and some do not share, so having an extra litter box always helps.
Bully cats and other animals are also something to look out for. Other pets, for instance, may not recognize the hierarchy your kitty is in. This is the same with wayward animals and those outdoors (indoor kitties may be prone to harassment compared to outdoor tabbies).
Make sure that your stressed-out feline has its litter box free from any obstruction by any of these critters; even by bullying fellow housecats. Additionally, cats in multiple-feline households tend to prefer open litter boxes for quick access to their litter box.
If your cat is a homebody with no other pets in the household, it might appreciate a hooded litter box like those by Frisco, Nature’s Miracle, or Pet Mate. These boxes will keep prying eyes away from your kitty. You could also place the litter box in an area where no outdoor critters can peek. So, even with an open box, your puss will still enjoy their unloading time in peace.
Other Ways to Keep The Poopers Away
While trying to resolve your kitty’s issues, you will still have to clean the gunk off your sheets, pillows, bed, and other areas of the house where your cat is not supposed to take a dump. However, doing so with regular house cleaning agents will not erase the ammonia scent – a cat’s nose can detect even slightest whiff of its own scent, even if you can’t smell it- which may tempt your cat to leave deposits again.
Use enzymatic cleaners such as Nature’s Miracle and Kids n’ Pets to clean and remove an yscents your cat may pick up on. Pour the cleaner – spraying it will not get the cleaning substance deep enough to penetrate and totally remove the ammonia. You may also use weaker cleaners, but you still need to add some cat repellent.
When the hard cleaning is done, try to alter the newly scrubbed ground zero by closing it down, and if necessary, locking doors, putting tin foil barriers, carpet runners upside down, etc. You may even need to add more citrus repellent to discourage your kitty from coming in.
Nothing Beats Change
Let us face it – our kitties grow old and will discover new things and places, even if they are indoor cats. Today they like the bed while tomorrow they might prefer the basement. The important thing is to be able to identify the reason they would like a new toilet whether their litter box location needs a little bit of modification or if they need a new litter box.
Always make sure that your kitty is healthy first. The unwarranted bed dumping may be a health issue that requires a visit to the vet. Your kitty is a creature of habit so whenever it takes a dump at a wrong location – for you, at least – it could mean something is up.
Sensitivity to your feline’s messages will make you realize that the cat-astrophe is as simple as saying “Notice me, love. My bed is not for you to poop!”