Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box

cat pooping in the litter box

Why is My Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box? Real Solutions from Our Doctor and Award-Winning Harvard Cat Behaviorist, international Lecturer and Author, Mieshelle Nagelschneider, CCBC.

Why Only Pooping and Not Urinating You Ask?

Educating Veterinarians on: Why is My Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box:  Our Harvard Cat Behaviorist Mieshelle Nagelschneider lectures on feline evolutionary biology and why cats poop outside the box at the Annual Veterinary Behavior Convention in Toronto, Canada.  Veterinarians, shelter staff, cat owners, and Humane/SPCA Society CEO’s  learned how to solve the most perplexing and unusual of all cat behavior issues:  Defecation outside of the litter box.  “In the Business of Saving Lives” International Humane Society and SPCA Behavior education Convention, Toronto, Canada (keynote speaker) 2014.

Think you’ve tried everything to stop your cat from pooping outside of the box?

We’re pretty sure you haven’t.

 See 173 defecation testimonials.

cat poop real dry dec 2012 cat pooping outside the litter box
Cat Pooping on Bed? Cat Poop on Wall-to-Wall Carpet?
cat pooping outside the litter box Poop-on-tredmill
Cat Pooping on Area Rug? Cat Pooping on Treadmill?


Schedule a phone consultation and learn what causes cats to defecate (only) outside the box. For efficacy, you must first complete the behavior history questionnaire to help us determine if your cat is a good candidate for success.  If after review we determine a consultation would not be appropriate, we will let you know why.  80% of the time the instigating factor has nothing to do with the litter box (or litter) which is precisely why other behaviorists have a difficult time solving this “unfixable” issue. Your cat may look like he’s just pooping for no reason at all, but if he’s in the 80% majority, there can be several reasons for the behavior. Mieshelle can tell you not only why this “behavior anomaly” occurs, but how to solve it during your phone consultation.

The “Why is My Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box” consultation:  The defecation program is a one-hour phone or video consult with behavior author, international lecturer, and Harvard-trained cat behaviorist, Mieshelle Nagelschneider – Certified C.A.T. Counselor, to solve the infamous and frustrating defecation issue.  See why we have hundreds of client phone defecation testimonials. During a defecation consultation, she goes beyond the obvious facts and gives intelligent solutions to solve the most “perplexing” of all cat behavior issues. By scheduling a consultation, you will learn why your cat is defecating on the floor, but also help cats everywhere by taking part in our behavior studies at the clinic.

Another 2017 Review — My Cat is Now Defecating in the Litter Box. I am so very grateful for all your assistance and I am sure Gracie is very thankful as well! I am hopeful that we can keep little Gracie on track. I am still extremely thrilled that Gracie has been pooping the litter box all week thus far!!! It’s a miracle!!!  Thank you so much! Charlene R. Ontario, Canada

Cat Pooping on the Floor Testimonials: “It’s week 4 and Grady has been pooping in the litter box perfectly every time! I can hardly believe it! Since week one of (behavior advice removed) and also the (behavior advice removed) even when we went out of town over the weekend which is typically a disaster, we returned home and he’s been PERFECT. It’s really amazing that just those strategies solved this. Seriously, I almost wanted or expected it to be more complicated. All I can say is, thank you, from all of us. You have another testimonial now and I have an early Christmas gift. Cat poop in the box. Who would have thought… Kind Regards, Michael K., San Francisco, California

April 2017 Cat Pooping on the floor testimonial:  I started (behavior advice removed) Bella only (Behavior advice removed) as on Wed. morning, 4/5/17. Her 1st poop (photo ending in #417) all other photos are of her poops – ALL IN THE LITTER BOX, NONE ON THE FLOOR FOR EACH DAY THEREAFTER.  Thank you,  Abe G. New City, New York

Why Cats Poop Outside the Box:  Learn why your cat’s defecation behavior falls into the 80% majority for this issue and how to solve it with a behavior plan based on your cat’s feline evolutionary biology.

2016 Testimonial: “I just wanted to follow-up on Tolstoy’s progress with pooping outside the litter box. The short version is he is pooping in the litter box now…yeah!!! A bit more detail of what’s been happening the last 3 months is that we did start him (behavior advice removed) and he started pooping in the box…it started with 70% of the time, but after about a week, it became 100% of the time. We’re now on about 3 weeks of consistent litter box use. We are thrilled. Thank you so much!! Let us know if you want to do another Skype meeting. We may not have time for the Skype meeting for a couple of weeks, but wanted to start on the (behavior advice removed) if possible. Thanks! Karen H. Cambridge, Massachusetts

September Defecation Testimonial: OMG, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have a cat that never defecated in the litter box. In fact he was my daughter’s cat and she couldn’t handle it any more, so she gave him to me. Tried everything – – multiple boxes, etc. No health issues. Friday after work (behavior advice removed). When I arrived home, I immediately (behavior advice removed). WITHIN HOURS no more defecating outside the box!!!! AND he covers his urine too, something he never did. Just urinated on top of the litter and walked away. Now I have to scoop down into the litter to find the urine and feces. I am telling everyone I know and my relatives and friends are amazed because they all knew about Capers and his out of box experiences (sometimes in the middle of the night stepping on it when they got up to use the bathroom, icky). Just wanted to extend extreme accolades! Barbara K. Forest City, California

May 26th – testimonial: Hi there! I just wanted to let you know that Reuben is now pooing in his litter box! YAY! for the past 2 weeks. I got something from (behavior advice removed). He has stopped biting as much but I’d like to use the last bit of my time to talk to you about that if we can organize a time. Thanks so much for all your help with this! It’s a huge relief. Andrea P. Toronto, Canada

Defecation testimonial just in: Mieshelle, I just wanted to let you know that everything is going perfectly now. It’s been 10 days and he has been pooping in the litter box every time! I can’t tell you how relieved we all are that we don’t have to clean up poop every day. After 4 years of daily poop patrol, we almost don’t know what to do with ourselves. Our seven year old daughter wants to be a cat whisperer now too! Thank you for giving us our lives back! Munchkin is clearly a happier cat which like you said was a big part of the problem. His happiness alone was worth the consultation. C. Cooper and family — Brooklyn, New York

Testimonial just in: — “Poop in the box for first time one day after consultation!” Mieshelle, Sammie used the box! This is photo of today, and the only thing we’ve done so far is (advice removed). So excited! C. Scott, Illinois

Poop in the box from Sammie!

Stool photo C. Scott may 2014

March 2015 Testimonial: — Poop in the litter box for first time 2 days after consultation. “Cooper has actually been going in the box and photos are below”. Sherry R. Jupiter, Florida

Cooper’s poop in the box photo!

poop in box testimonial photo The Cat Behavior Clinic 2015

If your cat is pooping outside the litter box (no urination issues), you may have already gotten advice such as, “Add a litter box.” Whether your cat is pooping on the wood floor or carpet, pooping on the bed or house furniture, or just pooping everywhere, litter boxes are occasionally just a very small part of a real, long-term solution. No treatment plan for unwanted elimination is complete unless it includes all three parts of what we call a C.A.T. Treatment Plan: Cease the Unwanted Behavior (this is where your cat may fall into the 80% diagnosis group and you won’t have any success if you don’t address this problem); Attract to a Desirable Alternative (this will be effective as long as the instigating factor — again, that 80% we keep mentioning is addressed); and last, but hardly least, Transform the Cat’s Environment (which includes social dynamic hierarchy structure).

Compared to the other common cat behavior issues, the defecation issue is far too complex to find effective help online and in popular books with cookie cutter advice. We have even helped multiple veterinarians with this issue with their own cats. We recommend you schedule a phone consultation with Mieshelle where you can also participate in our cat behavior study to help cats everywhere just like yours.

That’s how we solved this cat’s (Taffy) problem (note: cats are never spiteful or bad; they don’t have this level of cognition). IMPORTANT: Taffy is NOT bad, and he is not just “pooping”. He’s in the 80% and a descendant of the African wildcat (just like your cat). From Taffy’s owner after day one of initiating just one piece of the behavior plan: “I expected a nice surprise when I opened the bedroom door, but there was nothing!” T. Whalen Oakdale, New York 2009

Not Bad.  Just misunderstood, but remedied by (advice removed).

The cause of your cat’s behavior is critical to understand fully. Is the problem related to territory? How can you be sure that your cat is defecating rather than marking in a territorial behavior called middening? How do you know a secondary problem hasn’t developed like a habit for location or a substrate preference? Identifying the problem(s) makes all the difference between wasting your time and money on dead end reinventing the wheel advice and getting a real and lasting cure. That’s where we come in and other behaviorists won’t because they do not have the level of experience or education to address this sometimes (ok, always!) very frustrating behavior issue. Mieshelle Nagelschneider C.A.T. Counselor and Dr. Jim Shultz DVM are here to help.

In your behavior consultation with our expert cat behaviorist you’ll learn and we’ll also show you:

  • The Nagelschneider Method and why “social glue” may be crucial in solving this and other behavior issues.
  • why your cat is just pooping outside of the box (urination is not an issue unless your cat also has a urinary issue) and how to remedy this issue
  • how your cat’s innate instincts directly affect his litter box needs and how you can make the multi-faceted yet simple changes to meet these needs (but this is just one component of a comprehensive behavior plan).
  • the retraining process to ensure your cat defecates in the litter box every time. If your cat falls into the 80% diagnosis and that problem is addressed, then your cat may begin defecating in the box right away (even if your cat hasn’t pooped in the box for 5 years).
  • the latest behavior modification techniques to undo any habituated behavior (this is the part of the plan the internet, other book authors, and vets leave out and why cat owners fail at remedying this behavior issue).
  • why social tension between cats is often the cause of litter box issues and what to do about it (hint: it’s not about the box!). This social tension can actually be the first instigating cause that will place your cat in the 80%.
  • the latest scientific research and techniques to address scent tension with the litter box.
  • what 4 popular litters to avoid that are top of the list for creating litter box aversions! You will be surprised.
  • depending on when you schedule your phone consultation, you have the option of taking part in any of our cat behavior studies to help not only your cat, but cats everywhere.
  • and more, depending on the needs of your own cat(s), your household, and you.


Cat defecating on the floor testimonial for April 14th, 2013 “Tater” — Cathy S. Fredricksburg, Virginia

Here is a further update on Tater: 2 weeks since consultation. We continued all efforts described from week 1 update and he continued to poop outside of the box. Now with the (behavior information removed). However, on Friday night he used the litter box and then again on Saturday night!! Unbelievable, he has not used the litter box in back to back poops in years! We still went forth and (behavior advice removed). We also (behavior advice removed).

Thanks, Cathy


Zoologist Testimonial: “The reason people are so mesmerized by house cats is because they are truly miniature versions of lions, tigers, and leopards. Mieshelle explains in an unprecedented and a most accessible way, the behavior of the house cat, with her unique insight into the often misunderstood companion animal that is as wild as we have become civilized.” Dr. Jordan Carlton Schaul, PhD — Contributing Editor, National Geographic Society and Curator, Orange County Zoo

Even if you take steps to cease the unwanted behavior, any favorable results are likely to be at best temporary without a plan to Attract your cat to a new behavior. This is where our behavior modification techniques are also crucial to long-term success. We’ll show you how to implement these. The techniques alone are priceless and they are not one-size-fits-all like you might find elsewhere. This is also why you really do need to schedule a consultation with a behaviorist because you will never find the level of care online that your cat needs — there are too many interdependent variables. The defecation problem is far too complex to remedy on your own in at least 80% of the cases we see every day by phone. We have even had licensed vets as our clients for the infamous pooping issue!

And then there’s the big one, the Territory: how to create an environment that makes sense to them (after all, we are keeping them in captivity), so that your cats have all the resources they need and in locations that make sense to them for minimal behavior problems. We’ll explain how to set up your cats’ environment to help them structure their social hierarchy the way we do our own cats — a big part of why our clients have lasting success with this issue.

If you schedule a consultation we require a photo of where the defecation is occurring (stool included), litter box areas, feeding areas, and perching and resting areas.

“After the phone consult with your cat behaviorist, I immediately (behavior advice removed). It took 5 days to address the actual real problem (yes, she was right), and Sage began pooping in the box like nothing ever was wrong. Mieshelle’s advice is precious and I’m just so glad I called you folks. I thought I was the savvy cat owner working at the shelter all these years, but now I know there is a lot to know about cats!! My vet even looked at me like I was crazy, so he will learn this knowledge soon to help other cats. I think many cats are taken to the shelter for this exact problem and it’s like a silent killer — so sad.”

Kind Regards,

Karen S. – New York, NY 2011

“I must say that we can’t be anymore happier than we are right now! The vets and staff are amazed that you have fixed this cat of ours. He has been going to the vet for the last 3 years with test after test and now he is no longer ruining our house with urinating and defecating thanks to you! Thank you! I only wished I had called you sooner. I would have saved myself and kitty Jasper a lot of agony, car rides, and money!”

Law M. – Napa Valley, California

“Just started the techniques…amazingly, Jerry has used the litter box to defecate! Of course this is AMAZING, since it hasn’t happened in 8 years. Thank you!”

Erin A., Reston, Virginia

Hello Mieshelle,

I’m writing to give you an update on Lucy. The wonderful news is that she used (defecated) her box today! After I spoke with you, I made (behavior advice removed) and I got the (advice removed) her temperament does seem quite improved. I also (advice removed). She does like to have (advice removed) those activities when things are going well, so perhaps that is why. She has even slept in the bed a few times which she had not been doing. I think that’s about it for now!

Thanks very much,

Hilary P. Brooklyn, New York 2012

December 2014: To The Cat Behavior Clinic – Well, here is another testimonial for you! I honestly thought Buster would be that one case that you would not be able to solve. I guess I was wrong. Not only has he been pooping in the litter box every single time for going on 5 weeks, he now sleeps on the bed with the other cats where previously he was that odd cat out. I guess you could say I am now over my cautiously optimistic stage and feel like I have a normal cat household, FINALLY!! I didn’t realize how much this problem bothered me until it had completely disappeared. I know this might sound a little cliche’, but I feel like I finally have my life back! Also, on a side note, my co-workers are no longer snickering at me for hiring “the Cat Whisperer”, but asking me for your phone number! Thank you for all that you do. 2013 is now going to end on a “poop-free” note! What a relief… Regards, Stephen M. New York, NY

Just to let you know that all has been WONDERFUL with the cats! No pooping and no more peeing going on upstairs! … Anyway, thank you for saving us!!!”

R.W., Rock Island, Illinois

“Well, it’s been about a week that Hurley has been using the box to defecate. I am EXTREMELY pleased with the results so far.

“There have been no accidents. He goes right in the box. You get another testimonial from a happy client!”

Bill G., New York, NY

“So far Avery has been accident free for almost 3 weeks. I am so excited. Thanks to you! We haven’t had to confine him either. Thanks….”

Lisa N. Alabama

October, 2013: Dear Cat Behavior Clinic, It has been two weeks since we had our consultation to address Cadbury’s persistent non-litterbox pooping and we are *delighted* to report that he has not missed the box since initiating the behavior modification recommendations made by Ms. Nagelschneider. The change in behavior was immediate. In addition to using the box, we have observed (information removed) since implementing the (advice removed) changes. Thank you for your time and help. If there are any further developments we will let you know, but it seems that the underlying issues causing the problem have been successfully addressed. Regards, Mike & Barbara S. (And M&M, Cadbury, and Kokio), Townsend, Massachusetts

January 2014: Mieshelle,

As much as I didn’t want to say “you told me so”….YOU TOLD ME SO! I’ve had cats all my life and never thought anyone could tell me anything I didn’t already know, but you proved me wrong (several times over, I might add) and I have a happier cat family to prove it — and most importantly, the defecation issue was solved in 3 days..! The vets couldn’t help me or all those cat behavior books. but your advice made sense and I’m just wishing I would have called you sooner! Thank you for your astute knowledge and all the work you do in saving cats lives! Dave C. Los Angeles, California


We’re constantly receiving testimonials for solving cat defecation issues. Ready to get some real solutions for the long-term? Book a consultation now.


By Mieshelle Nagelschneider (middening and defecation study conducted in 2003).

Sometimes a stool is not just a stool. Stools left around the walkways of the home or on a favored sofa or other elevated areas might be a form of marking done by your cat to delineate territory. This “middening,” which usually begins only when the cat enters into social maturity, is to simple defecation as spraying is to mere urination. Middening comes from a little-known English word that derives from the Old Norse term for a dunghill or manure pile. If you type middening into a search engine, it will, maddeningly, try to correct your spelling. “Was it maddening you were looking for?” Just say no. The fact that the search engine thinks you can’t spell, and won’t give you much information on middening in any event, is an indication of how rare middening is, at least indoors (free-ranging outdoor cats midden as much as half the time, but in housecats it’s much rarer). But when it does happen, middening can be synonymous with maddening!

More-dominant or confident cats may midden to send territorial messages. Middening is not only a strong visual signal, visible from a distance, but, because the anal sac secretions that lubricate feces are so foul smelling, it’s a very strong olfactory signal as well. Because cats who are middening are trying to send a message, they usually deposit their midden in very prominent locations so it’s not easily missed by other cats, (aka the competition): in hallways or the frequently walked paths of household cats, near doorways leading outside or to favored rooms in the house, on elevated locations, and near other important pieces of real estate about which a cat may feel competitive. Cats may defecate (rather than mark) in these prominent listed locations as well,but it’s more common for them to defecate in less prominent locations like the corner of a dining room. Typically middening is done away from the core territory of the nesting area’s food and cat beds.  However, a dominant cat who wants to deter other cats may even midden territorially in front of litter boxes or food bowls. You’ll know your cat has tried to cover the stool if you find it buriedin clothing or bed linens left on the floor, or if you see claw marks on the carpet near where he left the feces. Cats will not cover a stool if they’re leaving it for marking purposes. They want it to be seen! That said, there are some cats that don’t try to cover their defecation even when they are not intending it as a message. So when you find an uncovered stool by the front door, it can be difficult to know for sure what your cat’s intent was. This is when you need a behaviorist!

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For Clinic Guarantee and Efficacy:  If after reviewing your completed behavior history questionnaire Mieshelle determines a consultation would not be appropriate for your defecating cat, the clinic will not hold the consultation and will let you know why.