How do I get my cat to stop pooping in my bath tub?

Cat playing in bathtub and not pooping

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This is a question about “inappropriate elimination”. That’s a euphemism because from the cat’s perspective the elimination is appropriate because he or she is probably anxious, fearful and stressed because of a specific reason. Anxiety and fear are often the main factors driving cats to defecate indoors outside the litter tray.

Dr Bradshaw in his book Cat Sense, writes that some cats defecate on their owner’s bed sheets in a desperate attempt to try and mingle their own odour with their owner’s to establish ownership of the ‘core of the house’. Both bed sheets and bathtubs smell of the cat’s owner.

I can remember my former wife’s cat doing just this. She was absent for long periods from her flat. Her cat was stressed because of this absence. Perhaps it was separation anxiety. I think we can say with some confidence that anxiety is the most common cause of a cat pooping in the bath tub.

So what’s the solution? Well, the owner has to find out why their cat is anxious. It may be a cat outside coming inside the home. Or there may be disputes within a multi-cat household. Those are the usual causes.

There may also be feline medical reasons but this is much less likely. Another possible cause would be that the litter tray is in the wrong place, badly maintained or shared. However, the most likely cause of anxiety in domestic cats is quite possibly the worry that their territory is going to be invaded by other cats. These ‘invading’ cats might be in the neighbourhood or inside the house.

Dr Bradshaw did a survey in 2000 in rural Devon and in Hampshire, UK. Half of the 90 cat owners reported that their cats regularly fought with other cats. 40% of the cats were fearful of other cats in general. The point being made is that there is a lot more anxiety amongst domestic cats than many cat owners realise and one symptom is ‘inappropriate elimination’.



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3 thoughts on “How do I get my cat to stop pooping in my bath tub?”

  1. My late cat Einstein never used the cat box, and I had him for almost 18 years. In his last years as he suffered from kidney failure he peed in the tub, and pooped on the floor either in the kitchen or the bathroom. I tried a few things to alter the behavior but ultimately I accepted it and let him, plain and simple. He did go to the front door and look at it, and realized he wanted to do his business in the yard and let him out. When I didn’t, he didn’t and used the tub. I actually thought it was smart of him to think of the tub to pee in… kind of like a big urinal. He must have thought it was a practical place to do that, knowing it would wash down the drain, knowing that to do it anywhere else would be more of a problem for the household. He’d often follow me into the bathroom when I went to pee, and he did the same in the tub, after which I gave it a quick rinse. I didn’t fret about it at all except that I knew he had problems, and it would only add to them to yell at him. Again, it’s just that simple. You either love your animals, realize they ARE animals and accommodate them, live WITH them or you don’t have them. Why cause them more grief? To bring them into your home and be upset about every imperfect thing just isn’t fair.

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    • It is unusual for a cat to consistently not use the litter tray. Before he had kidney failure do you know why he did not like using the litter tray?

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  2. Good to see this covered so well. So many cats have been abused, abandoned, punished and just killed, due to dumb, selfish carers clinging on to death to the idea that cats do not have a full range of emotions and anxieties as humans.

    The poop protest is simply a cry for help. My dear old boy Toz, alerted us toa hideous, malignant soft bone tumor on the underside of his sacrum, by trying to poop in the bath. Or rather straining, as the tumour was pressing on his rectum, so he could not eliminate.

    Trying to in the bath, has alerted us to an UTI on more than one occasion. Tabbus, preferred the sandbox in the garden, he refused to use well maintained litter trays, whatever type of litter. So he scratched, turned around, squatted, scratched again, in the bath to alert us.

    Unwittingly humans have created a kind of slow burn hell for this species we created to keep our food stores safe from being eaten by the unfairly maligned rat.

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