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Kitten playing with her poo!!

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Mocha

Furry Diva
 
 
Purred: Wed Jan 13, '10 7:38pm PST 
Mocha, our 3 mth old kitten, has been with us for almost 3 weeks. She spent the first 2 weeks just fine. However, 4 days ago, we came home to find a piece of litter-covered poo by her litterbox. Same thing the day after. Yesterday I was home sick and Mocha stayed by me all day...no mishaps. But today when we came home from work, again! A "present," and this time out in the living room by her food and water...gross!!

I think she took her poo out and played with it because her poo was covered in litter and there was a litter trail. I've also seen her hanging out in the litterbox after she does her business. I watched her poop today and she buried it diligently. I scoop the litterbox about every other day. The second time she took her poo out, I had just scooped it. I haven't completely dumped out and changed the litter though.

I'm puzzled as to what might have caused this. She has lots of toys just outside. I have Nature's Miracle 3 in 1 Odor Destroyer and have sprayed it in her litterbox a few times before I had time to scoop. Would this be a factor? She doesn't do it while we're home.

Are there any tips or suggestions as to why she suddenly started doing this after 2 weeks and how to stop it? I'm happy that she seems to be consistently using the litterbox, but coming home to smelly poo isn't very pleasant! Thanks in advance!
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Ziggy

Wild but lovable
 
 
Purred: Sat Jan 16, '10 8:43pm PST 
She is bored. Get her some cool feather toys and a play mouse and play plastic balls with bells. Mom did this for me when I was little and did the same things. I got over it and no longer do it.
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♥- Tasha- ♥

Cat; I'm a kitty- cat!
 
 
Purred: Sun Jan 17, '10 6:18am PST 
I think she will outgrow this behavior big grin

I wanted to mention- you should try and scoop her box everyday- cats like a clean box. I scoop twice a day. The best way to make sure she keeps using the box is to make sure she never wants to avoid it kitty

Here is a website that is really informative:

http://catinfo.org/litterbox.htm

kittykittykittykittykitty: ^:kittykittykittykittykittykitty
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Mocha

Furry Diva
 
 
Purred: Tue Jan 19, '10 11:17am PST 
Thank you for your responses! Mocha hasn't done this since we got Smokey a few days ago. smile Even before that though, I found that scooping before bed helped to keep the box cleaner (I used to do it before her dinnertime, not the best timing!), so she hasn't done it since.
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Mocha

Furry Diva
 
 
Purred: Thu Feb 11, '10 1:53pm PST 
Please ignore my last optimistic post - Mocha is STILL playing with her poo, and it's becoming more and more frequent! It's getting very frustrating for us! I just wanted to clarify that Mocha’s not doing the actual business outside the litter box. She is going inside the box, and then taking it out. (Sorry for the mental image…)

Mocha and Smokey has TONS of toys, all over the house in every room they go to. They are in all shapes and sizes - balls, little mice, etc. I also just bought them a cat tree that has multiple levels, sisal posts, and dangling toys. In short, I've provided them with lots of things other than poop to play with. Smokey has no problems at all, but Mocha from early on has shown to associate poop as a toy for some reason!

I've started to scoop every day but last night just before I was about to scoop I found out that it was too late - she took TWO pieces of poop out. I disciplined her on the spot - she knew she was in trouble! But this morning she took another piece out! This habit is very difficult to tolerate as it is extremely unsanitary. She is barely 4 months old, is there no hope until she’s an adult?

Previously I've just cleaned up her messes, but now that she's been leaving poop on the floor almost every day, I need to rid that bad habit once and for all. Firstly, she doesn't actually go outside the litter box, so I don’t believe it’s a health issue. She’s had her shots and fecal sample tested recently so she’s fine. She’s a good girl with using the litter boxes - the problem is that after she goes, she takes the poop out of the box to play/eat as a toy. I’ve caught her in the act, so I can confirm that it’s what she’s been doing.

I have a good sized litter box with fairly high walls (CatIt brand), and a slightly smaller one. Both are hooded, with doors. I know there are automatic litter boxes like Scoop Free, but I’m iffy about automatic boxes because there are always problems associated with them, so I’d like to stick with my boxes for now. Unfortunately, since we work fulltime and do not come home till fairly late, it’s impossible to clean the litter box as soon as she goes…there’s always ammo!

Now I love Mocha and realize it takes hard work on both sides to keep everyone happy, including Mocha herself who doesn’t know any better, and my hubby who is mucho grossed out by the “presents”. I’ve done a lot of reading and I know I’m not the only one with this problem. However I’m hoping for some advice beyond “she’ll grow out of it” or “get her more toys,” because having cat feces on the floor every day is much less than ideal, and she already has lots of toys.

Our plan is tough love – whenever we catch her leaving poop out, we will bring her to the poop and discipline her. (Maybe we should spray water?) Our hope is that she will realize that bringing poop out from where it belongs will result in punishment. If she has a good day (no “presents”) we will reward her with treats. Do people think I’m on the right path? Does anyone have other experiences to share? Sorry for the long post, I just needed to vent some frustrations as a first-time cat owner! Thanks in advance!
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Thu Feb 11, '10 2:14pm PST 
I can't imagine how frustrating this must be! But do you think she'll make the connection between the punishment and the "deed" unless you catch her in the act?
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Mocha

Furry Diva
 
 
Purred: Fri Feb 12, '10 8:09am PST 
Thanks for feeling my pain, haha! We plan to put her head close to the nasty stuff and then spray her with water or tap her. I think that's what some dog owners do? (I don't have a dog...)

On accident-free days, like yesterday, I praise her for not leaving us "presents" and gave her treats.
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Shade

My name is not- Kittyfloss!
 
 
Purred: Sat Feb 13, '10 7:40am PST 
Hi Mocha. What a pain in the neck problem to have! I feel bad for you, but I have to say that I'm afraid that your plan for training her out of this behavior won't work. First off, your plan to reward her on days where she doesn't play with her poop won't work. How will she know what you are rewarding her for? She has no way to make a connection between you saying she's a good girl and giving her a treat and the fact that she didn't play with poop.

The other problem is with the whole idea of punishment. Punishing cats is not something that usually works. Punishment as with dogs works because dogs are pack animals who want to please the pack leader. A well trained dog sees it's owner as the leader and thus they want to please their person. Being punished by their person, to anthropomorphize, makes them feel bad. Now cats are not pack animals. They don't care overly much if they bother another cat (although there are loose heirarchies in groups of cats that live together). Because of this, they don't see you as their leader and have little desire to please you in the way a dog does. If you punish a cat you are much more likely to scare it and confuse it than to teach it a lesson. This is especially so if you are going to punish a cat by bringing it back to something that it did hours ago and start squirting it. Sure, you'll scare and confuse the cat and make her fear the squirt bottle, and maybe you, but is this what you want to accomplish? I really urge you to reconsider this plan. In fact, I'm pretty sure even with puppies, you're not supposed to bring them back to an accident and then punish them, you have to catch them in the act.

Unfortunately, Mocha now has the poop playing habit ingrained. You are only going to be able to work on this problem when you are home with her at night and on weekends. You'll have to keep an eye on her and follow her when you see her going to one of the litter boxes. When you see her finishing up in the box, call her out (though you'll have to train her to come when you say something like "Mocha come" first) and reward her with a treat that she really likes. Then maybe throw a toy, like a ball or small mouse, for her to chase away from the box. You also have to clean your boxes before you go to work and at night. This will remove any temptation. Obviously this will not help if she poops while you are gone, but hopefully she will be learning in the meantime to start leaving her poop alone.

I'm sorry, but I don't think that there is any easy answer for your problem the solution requires training your animal. Training is good for cats anyway, it gives them a different way to use their brains.

Best of luck and purrs,
Shade
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Sat Feb 13, '10 9:04am PST 
I think Shade's suggestions are a perfect way to try to deal with this. Again, I know it must be SO frustrating, not to mention unhygienic, but cats don't seem to respond to punishment unless it's given at the moment of the bad behavior. Hopefully she's going to grow out of this soon, but in the meanwhile this approach should help.
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Minou

Manly Minou
 
 
Purred: Sat Feb 13, '10 9:49am PST 
Hey playing with poop is FUN!! Minou went through this phase. Was she in a shelter cage with her litter box before you adopted her? She may have learned to amuse herself this way there.

Anyway try to engage her more in play when you are there. Rotate her toys to keep them interesting. Put them out, and put them away and change them when you take new ones out. or get her a kitten friend. Kittens are often hard to keep up with, they need lots of stimulation.
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