This title to this post describes a cat behavior problem which is fairly commonly encountered except I have specified a particular type of ‘inappropriate elimination’. Let’s remind ourselves that ‘inappropriate elimination’ means inappropriate for us. That is obvious. From the cat’s perspective what she is doing is appropriate and a preference.
In this instance the cat is pooping just outside the litter box. From that we could deduce that the location of the litter box is okay. If the location is okay and if the cat has been using the litter in a satisfactory way for a while, the focus should be on the litter material itself – the substrate.
In this instance, bearing in mind the exact nature of the ‘inappropriate elimination’, I think we can also eliminate causes such as:
- behavioral problems due to stress (i.e. marking behavior)
- medical problem
- inability to get into the litter box
- forgetting where the litter box is
- negative experience when in the litter box
My guess is that she has developed a preference for the floor next to the litter box over the litter material. This developed preference may have arisen because she didn’t really like the surface feel of the litter material but put up with it. The cat’s caretaker uses: Tidy Cats Breeze system.
Also the cat may have decided the litter material was not clean enough. The lady says:
Dirty litter isn’t the problem as I just changed and cleaned it about a week ago
For me that is not frequent enough. I believe litter trays should be cleaned at least daily and sometimes twice daily depending on usage. The basic smells of the litter box need not be washed away but the surface needs to be free of feces and urine.
In the wild cats use the same sites as toilets sometimes but they will use a clear area. One unnatural aspect of a litter box is that it is a small area of material intended to replicate the outdoors. It needs to be kept clear of feces and urine.
Once a cat uses the floor next to the litter tray she’ll use it again. Cats can acquire a preference for eliminating on a specific substrate. Cats who dig and scratch their paws just outside the litter box before or after elimination may acquire a preference for the new surface and use it.
In addition to changing the litter material perhaps this lady could use an enzyme cleaner to clear up and kill the odor around the litter box and/or move the box.