Why Is My Cat Pooping in the Tub? (How to Stop Them)

By Phil / November 26, 2019
Why Is My Cat Pooping in the Tub

Finding cat poop in the bathtub or somewhere else in your home that isn’t the litter box is one of the most distressing things as a cat owner.

I’ve been there myself enough times over the years, and it never gets any less annoying. I have always been able to correct this behavior though, so there’s hope.

In this article, I’m going to explain all the reasons why your cat has started pooping in your bathtub, or anywhere else they shouldn’t be. As well as the steps you need to take to stop them from doing this.

Why Is My Cat Pooping in the Bathtub?

There are three main reasons why a cat starts to poop outside of their litter box, these are:

  • Something about their litter box is turning them away
  • It’s down to behavior issues (of which there will be triggers)
  • They have a health issue

Here’s how to tackle each of these potential causes:

Reasons a Cat Will Stop Using Their Litter Box

Here are the main reasons why cats stop using their litter boxes. See if you can pinpoint a reason why your cat has:

It’s not clean enough – It can take just one day slacking on your part to let their box get too full and a cat will poop elsewhere. They then might start pooping in that new location (the bathtub) until you reintroduce them to their nice clean box again.

They’ve outgrown it – Are you still using the same litter box they had as a kitten? A cat’s box should be at least 1 and a half times their size.

The location is bothering them – This is another thing that you may never have changed, but your cat has suddenly taken issue with. Is their box in a quiet, private place? You need to put their needs ahead of yours when it comes to location.

They don’t like the litter – It’s not uncommon for cats to suddenly refuse to use the litter they’ve always had. Trying a different litter should be one of the first things you do. Find one that’s softer and less scented.

Identifying Behavior Issues

Identifying Behavior Issues in Cats Pooping outside of their box

Cats love having a set routine. Changes to their daily routine will often cause some kind of behavioral issue.

I remember the last time we moved house, one of my cats became very reserved and started pooping in the shower. Then, when we bought home our newborn, the same cat started pooping just outside of her box.

So, it’s very obvious that these kinds of environmental changes have a big impact on her. Have there been any similar events in your life that may have triggered a similar behavioral change in your cat?

I also had a cat displaying middening behavior. Middening is when cats leave their feces in strategic places to warn away other cats – it’s not pleasant when we find the evidence either!

I described how I found a middening solution if you need some tips or want to look into this as a possible cause.

Look into Possible Health Issues

Whenever you spot a drastic change in your cat’s behavior, it’s always wise to rule out any health issues.

When it comes to bodily functions, there are a few known health issues that can cause cats to urinate or poop outside of their box:

Constipation – When a cat is constipated and they’re finding it painful to poop, they often associate their litter box with this pain. I’ve covered some useful home remedies for cat constipation before, such as feeding cats olive oil or pumpkin. It can also be a reason why cats get the zoomies.

If you prefer a more traditional solution, you can give your cat MiraLax.

Cystitis – An inflamed bladder or bladder stones can be incredibly painful. This will typically cause a cat to urinate outside of their box if you’ve noticed this.

Arthritis – If you have an older cat they may be developing arthritic joints and other aches and pains. If your bath has easier access than their litter box or feels more comfortable, they’ll take this opportunity to use it.

Stress/Anxiety – I touched on environmental changes being a cause above. Changes in a cat’s routine often cause them to be stressed or anxious, which in turn often leads on to pooping issues.

How to Stop Your Cat Defecating in the Bathtub or Sink

How to Stop Your Cat Defecating in the Bathtub or Sink

Identifying why your cat is defecating in the tub is half of the battle, correcting their behavior is the other half.

I’ve managed to correct pooping behaviors a few times over the years. Such as popping in the shower, bathtub, and other places that are not where my cats should be doing their business – back to where they should be – in their litter boxes.

It always comes down to three things;

  • Finding out why they don’t want to use their litter box anymore
  • Making them aware that they can’t poop in the places they have been, and
  • Ruling out any health issues

Here’s how I approach each of these areas:

Addressing Litter Box Issues

I assume your cat used to use their litter box just fine, so something changed. If there’s nothing obvious that comes to mind, such as introducing a new cat into the home or changing their litter, try the following:

  • Give their litter box a deep clean, making sure to remove any scent of cleaning products afterward. Cats have a highly tuned sense of smell, they might be detected a smell they don’t like that we can’t pick up on.
  • Add another litter box to another location in your home. Something may have spooked them about where their current box is, giving them another option will give you an easy answer if this is the case.
  • Try a bigger box with better access. If your cat is aging, something about climbing into the box might be bothering them. I know enclosed boxes look better and lock smells more effectively, but it might be restricting their access.
  • Try a new brand of litter. Even if you haven’t changed the type of litter you use in years, it’s worth trying. It’s possible it’s started hurting their paws if it’s rough, or they’ve gone off the smell.

Make the Tub out of Bounds

Without solving the underlying reason why they’re using the tub as a litter tray, you risk pushing the problem elsewhere in your home. But at the same time, you need to change their habit of using the bathtub.

If you can keep the bathroom door closed at all times, great. If not, a simple solution is to put some water in the bath. This will make it pretty much impossible for a cat to do their business there.

Rule out Any Medical Issues

Cats are very good at hiding when they’re sick or injured. The way we find out is usually through changes in behavior, such as pooping outside of their litter box.

Your cat’s health is not something you can stall on. I recommend taking them to your vet and explaining what’s been happening. They will likely take a stool sample, give them a check over head-to-toe and advise you of the best course of action based on any findings.

When You’ve Identified and Address the Issue

With the information in this article you should have been able to identify why your cat has been behaving like this, and how to correct their behavior.

It’s not always that easy, however, I can appreciate that. We don’t all have the time and resources to do everything ourselves.

If your cat is still pooping in your tub or anywhere else outside of their box after you’ve tried everything, don’t be shy about reaching out for help. See if you can book a brief consultation with a feline behavioral expert to discuss your options.

If the issues are stemming from stress or anxiety, your vet might even recommend some medication to help your cat.

The bottom line is that there is always a solution, so please don’t despair. I know how stressful (and messy) it is finding a cat poo. But with a little patience and persistence, you’ll figure it out and be back to enjoying living with an (almost) perfectly behaved kitty.

Have you had to address pooping issues with your cat in the past? Feel free to share any tips and advice you have, what worked for you, or anything else of value below.

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