All of a sudden #1 inside the litter box, #2 outside

by Joel
(Clackamas, OR USA)

Our 17 year old female cat, Tobi, has always used the litter box. She sheds a lot and has dander, especially as she gets older, and relentless brushing with one of those spendy new brushes doesn't stop it. So she stays in our garage except on cold winter nights or days when we let her in the house. I open the back garage door every morning so she can go out if she wants, and she does usually, if she can lay in the sun on the concrete. Otherwise, 90% of the time she just lays in her soft bed in the garage.


3 weeks ago I used a little cat litter to absorb spilled oil at the front of the garage. The next day I found Tobi had defecated in that area. I cleaned it up and didn't think much of it. Since then, she uses the litter box to pee in, but defecates all across the front of the garage! Not once in the box. I moved the box to the front of the garage to no avail. I clean the turds up and spray the spot with bleach followed later by pet odor spray. I tried putting some of the turds in the box.

I changed her litter 2 weeks ago to that new stuff, "World's Best Cat Litter", from her old Back to Nature brand, "Litter Purrfect", that I've been buying at Costco for several years. But she started her problem a week before that change, so it isn't the instegator.

However, last month I ran out of her usual Nutro Senior dry cat food, and couldn't find it on sale (the price has skyrocketed lately). So I got some Blue Buffalo brand and Purina One brand dry cat foods with discount coupons to try, and mixed them in her feeder which is continuous feed and she always has access to. I suspect this may have something to do with it, but would think she would have adjusted by now. For a couple of years, at 6 pm or so, we go out and give her a couple tablespoons of canned cat food; she is especially fond of Soulistic brand shredded chicken, but not so much other brands with peas or carrots in them. She has always loved chasing birds, but not so much mice, so it's no wonder she adores chicken, and she's not as nuts about fish. I think her old teeth make the dry foods harder to eat also. But if you go out in the garage between 4-8 pm, she's very vocal and ready for her evening "special food".

But what can I do about the garage floor defecating? I've thought of putting out a second litter box with her old Litter Purrfect litter in it, at the front of the garage, and try to train her back to her old good habit. And I may pick up a small bag of her old Nutro Natural Choice Senior food to see if that has any affect. Do I really need to try and confine her with her box, food, and water with some fabricated fence?

-Joel

Answer by KAte
Sometimes this behavior can become a habit very quickly. If I were you I would try the second litter box in that area so that she can start to associate that area with her litter box and then gradually move it inside as before. If she then starts again then yes a period of confinement training may be the only answer to get her out of the habit of going in that area.

Cats like routine, ie same food, same litter type etc, so the recent set of changes in those area may have triggered this behavior.

best wishes Kate

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