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Dr. Barbara
Dr. Barbara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 1614
Experience:  Thirty years experience in small animal medicine and surgery.
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I have 2 pedigree British shorthair cats. A boy - 2 yrs old

Customer Question

I have 2 pedigree British shorthair cats. A boy - 2 yrs old & a girl 1 yr old. Both settled & happy. Eat, sleep, drink & play well.
Both WERE litter trained - now dirtying everywhere & anywhere. Even right next to their clean litter tray & in the bath!!!!!
Help - please - I'm at my wits end.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 4 years ago.

Dr. Barbara :

Hi Nicki, Welcome to JustAnswer. I am a licensed veterinarian and I'm here to help you. I bet you are at your wits end! I'm not completely clear, though, as to whether both your cats are doing this or just one. . .Bailey. And I also am not clear as to whether it is urine or stool or both outside of the litter box. Please let me know as my recommendations depend upon my having a clear picture!

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : It's predominately Bailey the 2 yr old we think. We've witnessed him dirtying - both urine & stools. We do believe Darcey the 1yr old has too though - again both.
Dr. Barbara :

Thanks so much for your response. Since it does seem to be both cats and both urine and defecation, then this is most likely a behavioral problem called litter box aversion. Have you changed the type or brand of litter that you use? Did you buy a new litter box?

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Pleased to hear its unlikely to be a health issue.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Cat box & litter haven't changed. It's cleaned after each use & totally emptied & refilled every 2/3 days dependent on usage.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : There doesn't seem to be any pattern to their behaviour nor timing. I'm at home - so they're not left for long. I don't have a cat flap - but the litter tray is always available & I do let them in & out on request. I have seen them 'toilet' outside too.
Dr. Barbara :

Thank you. . .and the litter box is in the same place as always?

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Thank you also.
Dr. Barbara :

The fact that they are eliminating next to the litter tray points toward litter aversion. . .they want to use the litter, but for some reason are disliking the litter.

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Yes - the litter box remains in the same place.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Should I alter the litter type I use?
Dr. Barbara :

If they have always used the same brand and type of litter as when they WERE litter trained, I'd say not. But perhaps this would make a difference. . .just have to try. Here are some suggestions in general to help with litter box etiquette: The type of litter and litter box (covered or uncovered) should be pleasing to the cats. It is recommended that you have one more litter box than cats, so a box is always available, in your case 3 boxes. The boxes should be in private and easily accessible places. If there seems to be any nervousness with or between Bailey and Darcey, you could get some Feliway disperser plug-ins. Feliway is a cat pheromone that is calming to many cats. Some people have had good success with a product called "Cat Attract" sprinkled in the litter box. I think you are already doing so, but the areas that they have soiled should be cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner that both removes any stain AND also removes any residual odor that they might smell. Do any of these suggestions sound applicable in your situation?

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Your suggestions do make perfect sense - and some are options I've already visited. I used to have the extra litter trays - both cats only ever used the one that remains. It is in a private but accessible place & is continuously kept clean. I haven't as yet explored the option of the hormone plug in - though have read about it. It's quite costly & I wasn't certain of its purpose. Do you view this as a real possibility to help?
Dr. Barbara :

Maybe. . .wish I could say definitely. Do Bailey and Darcey act the same towards each other as they always have? Medically, does either one drink excessive water or produce more urine than they used to? Obviously, SOMETHING is different here!

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Definitely something has changed - just can't pinpoint it.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Darcey eats & drinks constantly & is a bit of a scavenger. She is not the most affectionate of cats. Bailey is very placid & not nearly as keen to seek food out - although has a healthy appetite. Both cats seek companionship in each other.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : As I type this Bailey is on his back on the living room floor & Darcey is curled up on the sofa. Both seem content & at peace.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Bailey is rotund. Darcey seems underweight - very petite. Both classified fit & well. Both are active. Neither viscious. Neither are 'lap' cats. Instead seek attention as/when - but appear loving towards all members of the family.
Dr. Barbara :

Cats can stop using a litter box if they no longer fit in it or can't climb over the edge comfortably. Is Bailey rotund enough for this to be a possibility?

Dr. Barbara :

HI Nicki,

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Although a little 'cuddly' Bailey does fit comfortably in/out of the litter tray. I have an extra large covered one - the swing door removed as per both cats preference.
Dr. Barbara :

I have to be offline for a couple of hours, but I'd like to continue chatting with you later to see if we can't get to the bottom of your problem. I think that it is about 9:30 PM where you live right now. I see that you are typing right now so I'll wait.

Dr. Barbara :

Before I go, just to be sure. . .they have always used a covered litter box, correct? One thing I'd like to mention before I go, is that overweight cats can be prone to diabetes. A diabetic cat would initially be eating a lot and drink more water than normal. . .do you think diabetes is a possibility for Bailey? Have to run, but I'll talk with you later or tomorrow. WE WILL GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS!!!!!

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : Good morning.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : They have always used a covered litter box yes. Bailey is the overweight cat but with normal eating & drinking habits. One thing I have observed - comparing them to previous cats I've had - is that they both have bowel movements more often then I would expect. What they are passing is not abnormal - although at times maybe less solid. They both excrete maybe 7/8+ times daily. They are fed IAMS dried food. Could this have any bearing?
Dr. Barbara :

Yes, could very well be the cause of all of this. It is unusual for cats to defecate that frequently!!!! Perhaps it is the food. Which Iams cat food are you feeding? I was just looking up and there are several.

JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : I mix the kitten food with the adult food - I'm gradually moving them on to the adult food.
JACUSTOMER-z0cd4rrp- : I stay with the same flavour too. Chicken.
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 4 years ago.
I wasn't able to bring up our conversation in the chat mode we were in so I switched us to this Q&A mode. Do you think their "litter box" problem began when you started switching them to the adult Iams?
If you still have the bag for the adult food, would you please tell me which formula you are using. . .there are several apparently. Thanks!