cat tracking poop all over house
Behavioral Problems

Why Is My Cat Dragging Poop Out of The Litter Box?

Hiding feces is a natural instinct for cats. In the wild, it helps them to avoid predators and keep from challenging more dominant cats in the area. More than anything, though, cats are very tidy creatures. They will avoid leaving a mess and tainting their home if they can. If your cat is routinely dragging poop out of its litter box, it needs to be addressed.

Cats usually engage in poop dragging when the litter box is too small or dirty. They prefer to poop where it’s secluded and quiet so, if the box is somewhere noisy, they will leave before finishing. For cats with mobility issues, dragging poop out may be accidental. They could also be incontinent, unable to clean away the poop from themselves, or unable to cover the poop. This tracks poop everywhere as they step in it or walk through it.

Cats that are bored or stressed spread poop outside of their box. When pushed to desperate measures, cats will use dried poop as a toy or as a way to get attention. Stressed cats may try marking their territory with poop to feel safer and more secure. Stray and elderly cats struggle to pick up litter box training and spread poop around by accident.

Why Is My Cat Taking Poop Out of The Litter Box?

A cat taking its poop out of the litter box is not typical behavior. Burying waste is a natural instinct for cats due to the pheromones in their waste. The scent of it can draw predators to them, so they bury it to reduce the odor.

Most of all, cats prefer a clean litter box over a dirty one, according to Behavioural Processes. That’s especially true if there are any feces or urine visually present. Felines are clean animals and groom themselves regularly. Spending time around open waste is a terrible way to maintain their neat, tidy nature.

In a multi-cat household, where waste can stack up, cats will be especially diligent about masking their own poop. Therefore, if your cat goes to the bathroom outside of the litter box or tracking poop around the house, it’s usually because the litter box is too dirty.

It is recommended to clean your cat’s litter box once a day or more if you can. About 9 times out of 10, this fixes your cat’s issue with its litter box.

Why Does My Cat Take Its Poop Out Of The Litter Box?

Even with a dirty litter box, cats will avoid pooping outside of their designated area. They don’t want to challenge you, and they don’t want to attract predators. If the cat is willing to risk it, you can be sure it has been pushed to desperation by:

Immobility

If your cat is elderly, disabled, or obese, it could be tracking poop outside of the litter box accidentally. When defecating, your cat may get some feces on its fur, especially if the feces are runny. If the cat has mobility issues, it may lack the flexibility needed to clean the waste off.

Arthritic and obese cats in particular will have trouble with this. That can also be applied to long-haired cats. They may get feces in their butt fur and struggle to clean it off when they age.

To solve this problem, you will need to help your cat groom. Use an unscented wet wipe on its fur, paying close attention to its butt. Clean off any waste that your cat has trouble getting to.

cat keeps stepping in poop

Poor Litter Box Habits

Cats learn grooming and litter box habits from their mothers when they are young. If you adopted a kitten or stray adult cat, you will need to teach it how to use the litter box properly. If your cat is pooping outside of this zone, it may need some training on where the litter box is and how to use it.

This problem gets worse if your cat isn’t covering its poop. It may then step on it and track it all over the house. In this case, your cat may need to be taught how to cover its poop. You can do this by sitting with your cat while it uses the litter box. Gently take its paw and help it cover the poop after it has finished.

Marking Territory

According to the Journal of Chemical Ecology, a cat’s feces contain a pheromone used to identify the owner. Because of that, cats use poop as a way to mark territory.

Usually, cats do this with urine, and unfixed males are notorious for spraying the walls. If they’ve been fixed and can’t use this tactic, however, or they are female, they need to get creative. Poop will become their main choice. 

If your cat is doing this, there could be another feline nearby. Your pet will then mark its territory to ward off the challenger. You can stop the behavior by chasing off the other cat or trying to close up the house until the smell leaves.

Feeling Stressed

Likewise, a cat trying to lay claim to an area will leave its poop uncovered to mark its territory. Felines don’t have a set hierarchy, but they can be protective of their space and resources when they need to be. Leaving poop out in the open is a safe, indirect way of showing dominance.

Other cats are welcome to challenge this claim of territory, but it could lead to fighting. If the other felines aren’t prepared for the conflict, they will cover their waste to avoid challenging the other cat.

In a typical household, cats view their owners as the dominant cat. They don’t plan on taking you in a fight, so they will cover their poop to avoid a problem.

If your cat is willing to challenge you by leaving its poop around, it’s likely very stressed. It feels threatened and crowded and is trying its best to ward you off without a full-on fight. This is particularly common if you bring home a stray or adopt a grown cat that hasn’t settled in properly.

Boredom or Wanting Attention

If your cat is bored and lacks any suitable toys, it may go into the litter box. Here, it will make do and bat around a piece of dried poop. If you keep finding whole pieces of poop around the house, the cat is almost certainly bored. 

Likewise, if your cat wants more attention from you, it may start dragging poop out of its litter box. It’s smart enough to know that this is bad behavior, and you will respond. Even if you only clean up the poop and ignore the cat again, it still reacted. If you scold or punish the cat, this won’t be pleasant, but it’s better than getting ignored.  

To solve this problem, make sure your cat has plenty of toys. You should also increase the amount of playtime you devote to the cat. If you see your cat playing with its own poop, clean the mess up, sanitize its paws, and give it a toy to enjoy instead.

Why Is My Cat Getting Poop Everywhere?

A cat that’s bored, stressed, or marking its territory will still keep the poop isolated. It’ll likely be spread around the litter box itself. If you keep finding cat feces all around the house, there are 3 possible explanations:

  • Your cat doesn’t cover its poop, so it steps on it while leaving the box and tracks poop everywhere
  • Your cat has fecal incontinence, which causes it to spread a mess anywhere it goes
  • Your cat experiences discomfort while using the litter box
  • The litter box is too small or too dirty

Let’s explore these situations and how you can handle them:

Cat Runs Out of Litter Box While Pooping

When bored or upset, a cat won’t run out of its box while pooping. Instead, it will avoid the box altogether or finish and then spread the poop around. If your cat never appears to finish and still leaves the box, it may experience discomfort. Perhaps your cat will cry out after going to the toilet.

For example, the litter box may not feel like a safe space for your cat. It will then be in a rush to do its business and leave the area as soon as possible. Likewise, a cat might feel too exposed while using the litter box due to a lack of privacy. This is especially common when the location is close to sharp, frightening noises.

In this case, you should move the litter box to a more private location that is less noisy. Once the cat feels safe, it will remain in the box and finish its business. It won’t rush the process and will cover its poop. This lowers the chance of it stepping on the waste and tracking it around the house.

Cat Won’t Poop In Litter Box

The litter box itself may not be to your cat’s liking. For example, it may be:

  • Too small
  • Too dirty
  • Used by too many other cats (in multi-cat households)
  • The scent or texture of the litter may be inappropriate for your cat

Cats won’t try to make a compromise in these situations. They will opt to find a new litter box on their own. If there are none available, pooping under your bed or in your closet are acceptable alternatives. To prevent that, you can:

  • Upgrade the size of the litter box
  • Clean it more often
  • Get more litter boxes
  • Change the type of litter you use

It is recommended to clean the litter box at least once a day. You should also have one box per cat, plus one extra box. Although some felines are happy to share, if you routinely find poop everywhere, then your cats are uniquely picky. Instead of dealing with the mess, you can just meet them halfway.

Cat Dropping Bits of Poo

If you keep finding small bits of poop around your house, your cat may be constipated. In this case, bowel movements are painful, so it poops whenever it can and whenever it gets the urge. Since its digestion is out of sorts, whatever it does pass will be small or oddly shaped.

Aside from that, your cat may also have bowel incontinence or leaking anal glands. This leads to it passing waste unexpectedly and without control. If your cat has either of these problems, it is recommended to take it to the vet. It will need treatment to feel better and return to normal bathroom habits.

Why Is My Cat Dragging Its Butt on the Floor?

Although dogs are best-known for this habit, some cats will do it too. Cats will drag their butt on the floor, called scooting, leaving a mess everywhere. This is uncommon, so be sure to investigate how your cat is feeling. As of now, it’s dragging its butt to make up for the fact that the cat has:

  • Litter or poop stuck on its butt. Cats with mobility issues will struggle to clean themselves and may use the carpet.
  • An itchy butt. This may be due to an uncomfortable growth or worm.
  • Anal gland problems. The glands could be infected or irritated, making it itchy.

If your cat drags its butt on the floor occasionally, this isn’t a serious problem. However, if it does this often, you should bring your cat to the vet. Here, it can be checked for growths, worms, or anal gland problems.

cat dropping bits of poo

How to Stop A Cat Dropping Bits Of Poo

Cats are easy to litter-box train. If yours has picked up bad habits, you can teach it to stop these behaviors:

  • Get litter box mats to place outside of the box. This will catch any litter and poop before it gets onto your flooring. While the cat learns how to use the box properly, the mats will keep your home tidy.
  • Train your cat in a more hands-on way. Put your cat in the litter box when it seems like it needs to poop. You can then gently bury the waste with the cat’s paws and praise it for a job well done.
  • Clean the litter box more often. At least once a day is recommended since cats don’t like dirty litter boxes.
  • Get more litter boxes. One box per cat, plus one extra, is recommended.
  • Change the kind of litter you’re using. The texture or scent of the litter may be off-putting to your cat, causing it to flee the box without covering its poop.
  • Move the litter boxes to a more private, quiet location. Your cat may find the litter box unsafe, which makes it flee soon after using it.
  • Assist your cat with its grooming. If your cat has mobility issues, you will need to help it clean its butt and fur with an unscented wet wipe.

Why Is My Cat Tracking Poop?

If you’ve applied the above solutions, but the cat still persistently tracks poop everywhere, then you have a bigger issue. Your cat may be:

  • Dealing with a medical issue that you hadn’t detected
  • Struggling to pick up its litter-box training
  • Unhappy with its litter box, even if you got a bigger one

According to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, cats prefer litter boxes that are larger than those typically provided. If your cat prefers a much bigger litter box, then it could be getting poop elsewhere as a sign that it is dissatisfied with its current situation.

Additionally, if you have a large cat and a tiny litter box, your cat may accidentally be getting poop down the sides of the box. If you keep finding poop near the box rather than in other places around your house, upgrade it to an even bigger size.

The litter-box habits of your cat are one of the main signs of good or poor health. Be glad that you’ve caught another symptom early or that it persisted to let you know there was a hidden issue.

Perhaps your cat is learning how to use the box properly, but it’s taking more time than expected. Older cats and strays have the hardest time picking up box training. Be consistent with your plan and trust that the cat will get the idea eventually. It’s not natural for a cat to drag poop out of its box, so with some patience, you can be sure it’ll adapt.