Why Do Cats Poop on the Floor?

Cats are the most lovable animals on the planet. They’re cute, cuddly, and so much fun to play with! But what about when they do something that doesn’t seem so nice? Like poop on your floor for example. Why does this happen? Well, let’s find out together! 

The reason why cats produce feces is that their stomachs don’t have an enzyme called “amylase” which breaks down carbohydrates in food into sugar to be absorbed through the small intestine. This means that cats can only digest protein-rich foods like meat or dairy products.

Cat Attitudes is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why Is My Cat Pooping on the Floor?

There can be several reasons your cat is pooping on the floor, but the most common reasons are medical, environmental, or stress-related.

The above reasons for your cat not using the litter box are very broad and to correct the problem you are going to have to do a little bit of detective work to get to the root of the problem. Keep reading to find out more about why your cat may be choosing to do his business on the floor and not in the box.

Medical Reasons a Cat is Not Using the Litter Box

Illness – If your cat is frequently missing the litter box, he might be experiencing pain when using it. This can be due to a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is the most common cause of straining during urination in cats.

If your cat is suffering from a UTI or another illness that causes them pain when defecating, they may stop using the litter box and start to hide their waste so that it will not be found.

Constipation – Another possible cause for your cat having pain while defecating is constipation. Cats tend to eliminate two or three times per day and if they only go once per day you should take them to a vet because this could be a sign of something more serious.

Although it is normal for cats to occasionally miss the box, if your cat is doing it enough that you notice and he has other symptoms like straining or blood in their stool, then take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Diarrhea – If your cat starts having diarrhea, it is very likely that your cat will have to go more often. This means that if your cat doesn’t poop in the box while suffering from diarrhea, they are most likely going on the floor instead.

Constipation or diarrhea may make it difficult for your cat to make it to the box in time. This can be caused by a change in diet among other things. Work with your vet to find the reason your cat’s bowel habits have changed as well as identify a treatment that will correct this medical issue.

Environmental Reasons a Cat is Not Using the Litter Box

Box Cleanliness – The litter box may not be clean enough for your cat. It should be scooped daily and have a complete litter change once a week. Your cat’s box will also need scrubbed and replaced periodically depending on what type your cat has.

Poor Litter Box Placement – Cats do not like to be startled. Placing their litter box where they can have privacy will make them more likely not to choose alternative locations to do their business. Having to use steps to get to their litter box can also cause problems for some cats.

Type of Litter Box – Your cat may require a larger (or smaller) litter box. If your cat is older, he may have trouble getting into a litter box that has high sides. If your cat is not using the box, you may want to consider changing the type of litter box your cat is using.

Type of Litter – Cats like to be able to dig in their litter and cover up their waste. If you are using a clumping litter, make sure that your cat is still pleased with the type of litter you have been using.

Different types of litter have different textures and scents. Some cats may prefer one over another. If your cat doesn’t seem to like the type of litter you are using, try to switch them over to a different type.

Number of Litter Boxes – If you have a multiple-cat household, make sure that each of your cats has its own litter box. In multi-cat households, one cat will likely become dominant and start to make everyone else get out of their boxes. They may also spray the sides of the box with urine to mark it as “theirs”  and not negotiable.

Stressful Situations 

Cats will sometimes avoid their litter box if they are stressed out or unwell. If your cat starts avoiding his litter box, take him to the vet before retraining him on proper litter box etiquette.

Being stressed can also cause your cat to have bad litter box habits. Your cat may start pooping or peeing outside of their litter box when they are stressed because it is a form of communication in the animal world.

Stress to your cat can be anything from having outside people in your home to him being left alone in the home. Our cats have a way of perceiving stress a lot differently than their human owners.

Do Cats Poop on the Floor Out of Spite?

It certainly seems sometimes like our cats are trying to send a message by pooping on the floor. It can be their way of showing us they are mad at us. But at the end of the day, this behavior ties back to your cat being under stress.

They are most likely scared or upset about something when they go out of their way to poop in places, such as your bed or the kitchen counter. Yes…cats do choose these kinds of places to defecate on occasion.

Why is My Cat Pooping on the Floor All of a Sudden?

If your cat has recently stopped using the litter box. Look at all the reasons named above. First, think about all the things that have changed in your cat’s world recently. If his food and box have not gone through any changes, look at the possibility of stress or medical issues. Have you added or lost a pet in your home?

If medical issues and stress are what you are left with, a veterinarian is the best place to find the answer. If your cat’s issue is medical in nature, you want to address it as soon as possible. The same can be said for stress. Stress can be debilitating and you want to relieve it as soon as possible for your cat.

Tips for Stopping Your Cat from Pooping on the Floor

First, it is NOT okay to punish your cat for pooping on the floor. If it is a kitten, it may need a little more training. Gently pick the kitten up and put it in the box if it is pooping on the floor. 

It has been my experience that most kittens figure out how to use the box very quickly. 

Issues having to do with the placement of the box, size of the box and number of boxes are pretty easy fixes. The same can be said for the type of the litter that is being used. The few times I have had this problem with my cats, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that the cats did not like the “change.”

If you can catch your cat in the act, try to notice anything that may be going on at the time that would cause your cat to be uncomfortable using the box. See more about this in Pixie’s Story.

If you think your cat is having medical issues, do not delay in getting your cat to the vet for a checkup to diagnose any medical problems. You may need to consult with the vet about stress as well. 

Stress can be caused by temporary conditions (visitors, you being on vacation, etc.). The good thing about this kind of stress is it should clear up when the cause goes away. Feliway is a great product that you can use in your home that will help calm your cat down if the stress persists.

Pixie’s Story

Boy has always been the typical alpha male. If any one of the other cats was getting attention, he always made sure he was right there to get his share (and theirs too). Even though Boy and Pixie were siblings, they never were best of friends.


Pixie just tried to stay out of Boy’s way but there were times Boy made Pix feel uncomfortable when she was using the litter box. And rather than feel uncomfortable, she just chose another spot where she was not bothered while doing her business. After Boy’s passing, this issue cleared up mostly.

However, Pixie has a habit of showing her displeasure when she is left at home by herself when we travel. We do have a lady that comes into our house that feeds and cleans up after Pixie, but she still “gifts” us by pooping on a throw rug that we have. The only time she does it is when we are gone for an extended period of time.

Final Thoughts

Why do cats poop on the floor? It comes down to 3 things…medical issues, something they do not like about their box or the litter in it and lastly, stress. If you can determine which of these is making your cat choose a place other than the litter box to do his business, you are well on your way to fixing the problem of your cat pooping outside the litter box.

You Might Also Like…

How to Cope With the Loss of a Cat

Why Do Cats Eat Their Own Fur?

My Cat Died…What Do I Do With the Body?

Is Cheese Bad for Cats?

How to Treat Cat Acne: Everything You Need to Know

How High Can a House Cat Jump