Your cat might need two litter boxes. Has that ever occurred to you? I have never heard of it but it may be the case that, rarely, a domestic cat may need two litter boxes as some cats have a propensity to poop in one place and pee in another (or vice versa).
Ruth who is Monty’s guardian says that Monty – who is an indoor/outdoor cat using a large enclosure – likes to pee in one place and then walks about fifteen feet away to poop. He just likes to pee and poop in deferent places spaced by about fifteen feet.
“Today he and I were out in his enclosure in the morning and he was doing his business by the back fence. He peed in one spot– I know he was urinating because I could actually hear it hitting the ground as I walked by– a copious amount.
Then he walked about ten to fifteen feet away and started digging another hole. Sure enough, before long he was dropping a big poopie into that hole.
Why? What would be the advantage to a cat to put their pee in one place and their poop in an entirely different spot? Or is there no reason, just a personality quirk on the part of some cats?”
Books on cat behaviour don’t really refer to this. Experts may refer to the need to pee outside the litter box because of a urinary tract infection (cystitis often) but then there are stories of perfectly healthy cats pooping in the litter box and peeing outside it, sometimes on a different sort of surface such as a hard surface. Under these circumstances the behavior implies that the cat prefers a different surface to pee than when pooping. The hard surface would be non-absorbent and therefore the pee would smell more. This may be a reason or it might just be a preference.
So what is behind healthy cats wishing poop and pee in different places separated by a distance that the litter box cannot accommodate?
It must a natural urge. For a cat, peeing and pooping has two purposes: to get rid of waste (obvious 🙂 ) and to leave scent marks to warn others that this is there home range. We all know that by now.
There cannot be a physical barrier to peeing and pooping in the same place. Therefore I am driven to conclude that the most likely reason is because the cat wishes to maximise his scent marking. Poop doubles up as a form of scent marking. Pee is often used for scent marking when it is sprayed horizontally onto surfaces such as a gate and so on.
But pee which is just deposited in the usual way when at toilet is also a form of scent marking in the wild for the wild cats. Sometimes wild cats have toilet areas at major junctions within their territory.
Therefore perhaps Monty is scent marking in a more purposeful manner by spreading it out thereby making it more effective along the boundary of his territory. To deposit pee and poop in the same place is less effective if scent marking is the goal. Or as Ruth suggests it may simply be a individual cat characteristic with no practical purpose. He just fancies doing it that way.
For healthy indoor cats, pooping inside the litter box and peeing outside could be a result of stress. When a cat is stressed he is more likely to want to scent mark. He is more likely to want to maximise the effect of scent marking. This may compel a cat to spread his scent around the home which means pooping in the litter box and peeing outside it at some distance.
A key factor here would be how far away from the litter box does the cat pee. If it just outside the box then the cause is likely to be something different – a mistake perhaps. But ten feet away or more might indicate a stressed cat maximising marking territory.
I stress though that this should not be mixed up with an ill cat with cystitis who pees bloody urine in small drops outside the box. This is a health problem and nothing to do with cat behaviour characteristics.
It could be argued that for some cats the litter box is too small. Sometimes they are obviously too small but sometimes they may be too small to accommodate the cat’s personal preferences rather than his size.
Do you have any nice ideas?
P.S. Once a cat has peed outside the litter box he’s likely to use the same spot as it becomes a marking point. An enzyme cleaner should be used.
P.P.S. Some cats have an aversion to certain types of litter. This may have an impact on where he poops and pees.