Discovering that your cat has pooped in the bathtub is a shocking, messy, and all-in-all unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, this is a problem that many cat owners may have to deal with while living with their fur-babies.
Why did your cat poop in your tub? When you cat poops in the bathtub, there’s always an underlying issue. Perhaps the litter box is full or placed in a bad location, or perhaps the litter brand is unappealing. Worse, your cat’s potty trouble might signal that it is stressed or has a medical problem.
When a cat that poops in the tub – or sink and shower, for that matter – there are specific steps that cat owners like you should take. Making changes to the cat’s litter and litter box, and adding a form of deterrence in the bathtub would be some of them.
Your cat might also need to be brought to the vet for a check-up.
Keep on reading to find out more about why your cat has been pooping in the tub and exactly how you can stop it.
Why does my cat poop in the tub?
1. Your cat has a problem with the litter box
This lengthy point covers four issues:
• The litter box is full
• The litter box is not conducive for use
• There is insufficient litter box
• The litter box does not have a good location
First things first, check the litter box. Is it full of feces or urine?
Just like humans, cats can be very particular about the place they do their business. If their litter box is already brimming with nasty stuff, your cat might deliberately poop somewhere else they deem as cleaner than their litter box.
Guess what – your tub fits that description!
Also, the litter box itself could be the problem. Did you recently change it?
If so, your new litter box might be too small for your cat – especially if you have a large-sized cat but a regular-sized litter. Many other aspects of your litter box matter for your cat too.
The wrong shape or depth can cause inconvenience, while a high-tech feature can give your cat the spooks. (For example, many cats are scared by the sounds that an automatic self-cleaning litter box occasionally makes.)
On top of this, litter boxes with a cover tend to be undesirable for cats; apart from trapping the unpleasant smells, the hood may cause your cat to feel claustrophobic or trapped.
We highly recommend getting the litter box we recommend in this article on Maine Coons – Read it here! That liter box is huge, it has an entryway, and it is totally inexpensive!
Next, it’s possible that you have insufficient litter boxes.
It’s good to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Why? Yet another quirk of some cats is that they don’t like to poop and pee at the same place. Others prefer to have two litter boxes that are placed in different locations simply for greater accessibility.
If you have two cats, you shouldn’t expect your cats to share just one litter box – that could be gross for your clean kitty. In fact, you should have three litter boxes so your two cats have more options.
Lastly, your litter box might not be at a good location.
This just substantiates why you should have more than one litter box per cat. You might have placed something that blocks your cat’s access to its only litter box. Or the litter box could be near something that your cat is frightened of – for example, the washing machine.
Or… perhaps you have placed the litter box near the cat food, when in fact cats don’t like to do their dirty deeds where they eat! Another thing that cat owners might not realize is that unlike humans, cats don’t always want privacy when pooping.
They prefer to poop somewhere in the open where they feel safe, as opposed to inside a closet or behind the door where they might get ambushed.
2. Your cat does not like the cat litter
Now, ask yourself if you’ve recently made changes to the litter.
If you have recently bought a new brand of cat litter, that could be your problem. There are many types of cat litter out in the market, partly because cats have their favorites.
Most of them would prefer the soft and sandy kind of litter that feels nice against the paws.
Fussy cats can be averse to litter in the form of pellets and large granules, or those that have a tendency to stick to the paws. It really doesn’t matter to your cat which litter is most mess-free or odor-free for you; being the boss of the house, you should cater to your cat’s wants.
Here are a few of our articles we recommend reading when you are looking for a new cat litter for a rather picky cat, even if you do not have one of those cat breeds:
- The 3 best cat litters for furry Maine Coon paws
- The 5 best cat litters for picky Persian cats
- The 3 best cat litters for Siamese cats
3. Your cat is facing stress or other emotional issues
Stress can cause a cat to poop at a different spot, such as in the tub.
What causes cats to be stressed? Here are some possible answers:
• There are changes to the household, such as the addition or absence of pets or people.
• There is competition for resources such as food and water in a multi-pet household
• There are changes in the home environment (eg. noise due to a renovation)
On top of these, you should be aware that even tiny changes, like moving the location of the cat tree, could be stressful to a sensitive feline. So think back and reflect on what could be causing stress to your cat.
Also, keep a lookout for other signs that would affirm the notion that your cat is stressed. This includes:
• Decrease appetite
• Increased clinginess
4. Your cat is struggling with a health issue
You certainly don’t want this section to apply to your cat, but it’s important to know that when a cat eliminates at an inappropriate location, it could be telling its owner that it’s unwell.
What kind of sickness causes a cat to poop in the tub?
It could be constipation, anal gland problems, or intestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease. Though unlikely because your cat is able to jump into the tub, cats also poop outside of the litter box due to problems in mobility caused by arthritis or joint disease.
Don’t jump into conclusions, though! You’re not a veterinarian and using Google isn’t a reliable method to give your cat a diagnosis. You’ll want to rule out a health issue by bringing your cat to the vet.
5. Other less likely reasons
Apart from what’s mentioned above, there are a few other possibilities to consider.
Firstly, your cat could be marking its territory. In a multi-cat household, pottying in the tub is a way to tell other cats that a location’s taken. Another way would be to leave uncovered feces, but that’s a story for another article.
Secondly, a cat that has been declawed may not feel comfortable when digging into its litter. They prefer to use the tub rather than to get their paws dirty in the litter.
Thirdly, the smell of the tub could be appealing to your cat.
Do you use bleach to clean your tub? There’s something about the scent of bleach that can trigger a cat’s senses, causing it to rub, purr, drool and… poop in the tub. Similar reactions may apply to other cleaning products too.
How can I stop my cat from pooping in the tub?
After reading through the many reasons why your kitty could be pooping in the tub, most of the solutions would come naturally to you. However, this is still a section worth covering as it’ll offer you new insights into the topic.
1. Make changes to your cat’s litter or litter box
If the litter box is full of poop, you clean it. If the number of litter boxes is insufficient, you buy more. And if the litter box is not conducive for use, you change it.
But… how do you pick the best litter box for your cat?
The ideal litter box for your cat should have ample room not just to fit your cat’s body, but also for your cat to move around, dig, and find litter spaces that have yet to be spoiled by an earlier visit.
If your cat is of a large breed, such as a Maine Coon, look into the litter boxes that are recommended for plus-sized cats.
Then, consider the height of the sides of the litter box.
Your cat should be able to enter the litter box easily, so take into account the limitations of kittens or cats with mobility issues.
You may want a litter box with a tall height (eight to twelve inches) if your cat tends to kick litter out of its boxes, but ensure that one of the four sides is lower to allow easy entry and exit. (Again, we recommend the litter box in this article.)
Also, where is the best place to put the litter box?
The answer to this question depends on the house itself, but in general, you want a place that can be easily reached, is relatively quiet and isn’t in a closet or an alley with a dead-end. Your cat should feel safe when using the litter box.
As mentioned, don’t put the litter box near the washer and dryer, and certainly not near the food and water too. For your own sake, find spots that fit this description but are out of your sight – and smell.
Lastly, how do you know if your cat likes its litter?
Well, apart from checking to see whether or not your cat poops in the litter box (and not the bathtub), there are other tell-tale signs that your cat does not like its litter.
For example, your cat might stay close to the edge of the litter box, trying to reduce the contact it has to make with the litter.
Your cat might also do its business as quickly as possible, running out of the box without covering its poop when it’s done.
If the litter is too dusty, your cat might react by sneezing near the litter. And if the litter is disagreeable, your cat might shake its paw vigorously upon exiting the litter box. Keep an eye for any of these signs in the days after changing your cat’s litter brand.
2. Deter your cat from entering the tub
A simple way to stop your cat from pooping in the tub is to add some water in it. Most domestic cats don’t like water, and they will not enjoy getting their paws wet while taking a poop.
However, it’s best to solve the mystery of why your cat wants to poop in the tub in the first place. Otherwise, your cat will still feel reluctant to use its litter box – and may poop at other places in the house, like your bed. Surely you don’t want that.
3. Take your cat to the vet
If you have an inkling of suspect that your cat is unwell, make an appointment with the vet.
To help your veterinarian identify the problem, bring along your cat’s fecal sample. The vet could get one by himself or herself, but you could make things easier for your cat (and the vet) by taking the initiative.
On top of that, collecting it will be pretty convenient since the poop will be fresh from the tub! Place your hand in an inverted plastic bag, pinch a cube-sized sample, then reverse the bag. Voila!
If your cat turns out to be in the pink of health, that’s wonderful. Use the opportunity to talk to the vet; he or she could reveal the source of your cat’s potty problems.
Why do cats poop outside of the litter box? Cats poop outside of the litter box for the reasons mentioned above, such as a litter box that is full or in a bad location, or stress caused by changes in the household.
Why is my cat laying on the bathtub? Your cat may enjoy the cold and smooth surface of the bathtub or it may consider the bathtub a safe hiding place. If your cat loves water, it could also be enthralled by the dripping of water from the faucet.
Why does my cat not cover his poop? If your cat doesn’t have a habit of covering its poop, it might have not learned this social skill from its mother previously. Other cats do the same because the litter is not comfortable for them, or if they want to mark their territory.