13 year old cat going outside the litter box

  • I have a 13 yr old cats who goes outside the litter box even when clean

  • Hey Karen, I am Linda, a small animal vet.


    Passing poo or pee outside of the tray is not an uncommon issue and there can be many causes.


    Oftentimes, this will be anxiety related, especially when the cat is a rescue cat or when there are other pets in the home.


    The rule of thumb is that there should be one tray per cat and one extra. This may seem ludicrous, but often cats will 'claim' a tray as their own. A single cat should have 2 trays, all in area of low 'foot traffic' with privacy.

    Some cats prefer a certain type of litter or to use a tray with a roof, so it is good experimenting.


    Cats are often incredibly fussy and won't use a tray because it is dirty or another cat has used it before them, so keeping the trays as clean as possible will help.

    Make sure the lip on the edge of the tray is not too high as your cat is a teen; they may be having some mild joint pain that makes using the tray harder. It can also help to ensure the tray is very wide, so posturing is easier.


    If you think she may be stressed, consider getting a Feliway adapter plug-in; often stress is the root cause of toileting issues. I'd also start her on some natural calming supplements such as Zylkene if she is an anxious girl.


    Ensure she has all of her own resources and plenty of spaces she can go to be alone when needed.


    Having said the above, it would be important to rule out underlying health causes. If the poos are solid, there is no straining and she urinates a normal amount, it is likely more behavioural than medical. However, we'd want her checked over for e.g. cystitis (bladder inflammation), a digestive disorder, a hormonal problem or early arthritis.


    All 'accidents' should be promptly cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner, to eliminate the odour and prevent re-soiling.

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