How To Stop Cats Peeing And Pooping On The Carpet

Recently, one of my readers, Shannon, asked me what to do with her cat, 7 year old spayed female which started peeing AND  pooping on her kitchen rug. There are five other cats in the household, which seem to get along well. There are 5 litter boxes which she cleans regularly. The cat in question never had a litter box problem before.

As urine spraying and house soiling is a very common problem in multi-cat households, I thought an article on this topic may be of interest to other cat owners as well.

Cats can start spraying (or house soiling) at any time during their life whether they are male, female, entire or neutered and in multi-cat households the chance that one or more of the resident cats will display this behavior during their life is much higher than in a single-cat household.

Pinpointing The Cause

Inappropriate elimination (urination, spraying, defecation) is a common problem which can have a behavioral cause but in some cases it can be a result of an underlying medical problem.  In Shannon’s case, as the cat is urinating as well as defecating in a certain location, I would suspect a stress factor coming into play here rather than a sexually/territorially driven marking behavior or a medical issue.

So the question is, what has caused the cat being stressed out, what exactly was it that triggered this behavior.  Is there anything that has changed in your household short before your cat started to soil your kitchen rug? It’s not always that obvious and may require some hard thinking on your part. New cat, baby, new person moving in, reorganizing and/or renovating house, moving furniture, companion cat acting differently (for example kitten growing up and trying to establish its position among the cat community), bully cat in the neighborhood… these are just a few of many possible reasons why a cat can get distressed, feel insecure, and  start soiling the house.

Of course, it would be ideal to determine the reason of house soiling and remove the cause… But this is often not possible so in that case I would proceed with the ‘symptomatic treatment’.

Tackling The Problem

If the cat is soiling only in one location, the easiest solution is to either prevent her from entering the place or make the place totally unattractive for her.

1. In this case, the cat is peeing and pooping in the kitchen – depending on the layout of the house, it may be quite hard to keep the cat out. So, rather than replacing the rug with a new one (what Shannon has done but it didn’t solve the problem), I would get rid of the rug altogether. Cats prefer soft surfaces to deposit their excrements; they will be much less attracted to smooth and hard surfaces such as tiles and laminated floors (in fact, most cats must be quite desperate to eliminate on hard surface).

2. In addition, I would advise you to get one of these pheromone based products with reassuring and calming effect on felines. What I like about them is that they are very safe to use (they don’t contain drugs which could be absorbed into the body) and work in a natural way. It is hard to say which one of the available products is the best – different cats will respond differently, so it is more a matter of testing out what works best for your cat.

There are sprays and diffusers like Feliway Behavior Modification spray or Feliway Diffuser, and there is also a pheromone containing collar, for example NurtureCALM 24/7 Feline Calming Pheromone Collar.

3. Make a feeding and play area in the  kitchen. Cats naturally avoid soiling where they eat and play.

[note] Note: Personally, I don’t like to use collars on cats which have access to the yard (especially when there are bushes and trees). During my veterinary practice I have seen quite a few cat collar injuries (usually slow healing skin damage/cut in the arm pit area) when their collar gets caught in the tree branch, they try to free themselves and slip their foreleg through the collar. [/note]

In any case of inappropriate urination and/or defecation  it is always advisable to get your cat checked over by the vet to eliminate any underlying  medical problem.

Medical problems are more common with urinating outside the litter box;  bladder and kidney problems, endocrine diseases like diabetes and hyperthyroidism can cause abnormal urination  and peeing outside the litter box. Pooping outside the litter box is more likely to be a behavioral issue but diarrhea, colitis and fecal incontinence could also be the reason.

4 thoughts on “How To Stop Cats Peeing And Pooping On The Carpet

  1. Kathryn

    I’m so glad you wrote this article. We rescued a cat from the shelter and haven’t had any problems until we had to take her to the vet. She peed in the carrier and ever since we brought her back, she’s been peeing and pooping outside her litter box. The other cat sometimes plays a little rough but she didn’t seem to have a problem with that for the most part. How can we reassure her? And should we sometimes separate the two cats so she can get a break? Thanks

  2. CatBehaviorTraining Post author

    Hi Kathryn, yes, it’s not unusual for a cat to start soiling the house after going through a stressful event (the vet)… Also the other cat could have started to become unfriendly after you brought her home (not sure if this is the case with your cats) – different scents, and illness can trigger unfriendly behavior towards the affected cat – this on its turn could lead to stress with house soiling as the result.

    So, it may be useful to separate the cats and see if she is still peeing and pooping outside her litter box.

    Also, make sure each cat has her own litter box + 1 extra litter box (so you should have 3 litter boxes in your house). Are you using the same type of litter than before? Some cats can be quite fussy about their litter and can start soiling if they get another brand (best is to use unscented litter).

    Has anything changed in the house while the cat was away? Moving furniture (or the litter box), new carpet, new people/guests staying in the house… any change, even if it’s a subtle change (for us) can lead to litter box problems.

    If you cannot find the reason, it may be worth trying Feliway pheromone diffuser.

  3. Andrea

    I also rescued a kitten (recently). He came from a multi-cat household, and was then in a cattery until we homed him. He was 4 months old (a month ago, we got him). I had to keep him separate for a while as he was not used to a normal family environment, and we also have a 3 year old female cat. Ever since I’ve had him, he’s had a runny tummy .. I’ve been letting him out in the house now but just last night he pooped in two different areas. He’s being treated for his diarrhea but this is difficult. I don’t know how to make him stop doing that.

  4. Debra

    Here’s my question: From day one my cat pooped and peed out side. However, I had to leave for 3 weeks. No one to really watch her(Izzy). A litter box was brought in, and she did very well with the ltter box (someone did come by and check on her, as well as clean the litter box, feed and made sure she had water) On my return the litter box was again put out side on the patio. However, Izzy is now using the spare room, pooping for sure. How do I stop her from using the spare room?

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