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Won't poop in box

8 years (and 3 moves) ago merged two households and two cats, male and female approximately the same age.  Male cat has been pooping outside his litter box ever since.  He will occasionally use the litter box but his habits do not seem related to cleanliness of box.  Have 2 litter boxes (unfortunately the female insists on using both), tried different litters and different spots and different types of litter boxes but cannot break him of going on the carpet and garage floor.  Have tolerated garage floor pooping but over the past year his focus has moved to the carpeted areas as well.  Have to babygate the upstairs to protect the wall-to-wall carpet.  He prefers to go outdoors but we cannot leave him outside all day while we are at work and all night while we are sleeping.  Fecal is not dry or hard and he has a good appetite though big enough to justify his 22 lbs.  We are getting desperate and considering giving him up but who wants an old, overweight, pooping cat?
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First I would recommend having your cat examined at your veterinarian for worms and anal sac disease.  Sometimes these can be the cause and since your cat does go outdoors, he can be exposed to internal parasites.  Your vet should also evaluate your cat for arthritis.  This can occur in older cats and lead to difficulties moving into the proper defecation position.

Next I would work with your vet on a weight loss program.  Your cat may be having difficulty getting into the litter box or into the correct position to defecate in the box due to his size.  He may also have trouble cleaning himself properly and so he may not like getting litter on his bottom.  Being overweight also makes him more likely to develop diabetes, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and other diseases.  Your vet can determine the proper amount of calories and prescribe a prescription weight loss food to help with weight loss.

Since your cat is large, you need to make sure your litter boxes are large enough for him, at least twice his length.  You can try mounding the litter a little on one side to help him get into proper position.  Remove any litter box covers.

Sometimes the problem is due to stress.  You want to create a feeling of plenty in your house, add another litter box, multiple water dishes, lots of places to hide and climb.  Try to create a good routine for your cat with routine play times every day with him and the other cat hopefully playing together.  Finally, there are medications for anxiety that help in many cases if none of the other things help.  Your vet can prescribe those for him.

Good luck, I know this is a very frustrating situation.  It is really great that you want to work on this so you can keep your cat.

Judy Karnia, DVM
Scottsdale Cat Clinic
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