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Do Cats Revenge Poop? Vet-Reviewed Behavior Facts

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

hand picking up cat poop

Do Cats Revenge Poop? Vet-Reviewed Behavior Facts

VET APPROVED

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Our cats communicate their interests, likes, and dislikes through a long list of methods. Some do a series of vocalizations, while others rely on body language translation. But what about when it comes to the litter box?

If your cat is starting to poop somewhere beside the litter box, you may wonder if you’re to blame. Could you have done something to cause this behavior? The truth is that it could have nothing to do with you, and it certainly doesn’t stem from intentional payback. Let’s learn more!

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What Does “Revenge Poop” Mean, Exactly?

We have all heard the rumor that our cats punish us for things they don’t like. But does that stereotype really hold any weight? While it might seem like they drop bombs to get back at you for filling up the food dish 2 hours late, it’s not what you think.

Cats can and will go outside of the litter box for a list of reasons, but none are related to spite. Instead, it is likely caused by stress, whether environmental or psychological. So, what exactly are the reasons that a cat may poop somewhere besides their litter box?

The 4 Reasons a Cat Could Poop Outside of a Litter Box

1. The Litter Box Is Too Dirty

The litter box is supposed to be a place your cat can comfortably go to do their business. Being meticulous groomers, felines care very much about their overall hygiene. Most cats will go out of their way to avoid getting dirty.

So, if they go into a litter box and it’s overrun with waste (especially in multi-cat households), your cat may feel forced to find a more suitable spot to take care of their needs. This could mean they find a better option in your laundry basket or under the bed.

Siamese cat beside litter box
Image By: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

2. You Don’t Have the Right Number of Litter Boxes

Frequent cleaning is a must. Just one cat should have more than one litter box, particularly if you have a big house. A good rule of thumb is to have a single litter box for each cat in the home, plus one extra.

Keeping the right number of litter boxes will ensure your cat can comfortably go to the bathroom without having to deal with another cat’s waste in their space. You might find that some cats will gravitate toward a particular litter box over others.


3. Your Cat Might Be Ill

There is a possibility that your cat might be getting ill or showing signs of a disease. There are several health issues that could cause a cat to inappropriately soil in the house. The most common illnesses related to this subject include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Cystitis
  • Feline idiopathic cystitis
  • Arthritis

If you suspect that your cat may have an underlying health condition, getting them the care they require is important. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to get their professional opinion and undergo any necessary testing.

vet examining the sick cat with stethoscope
Image By: 4 PM production, Shutterstock

4. Your Cat Could Be Stressed Out

Stress plays a huge factor and takes a real toll on the body. If your cat is stressed, it can cause unusual issues. Try to think back to anything recent that may have changed in the home.

Some cats can be extremely sensitive to their surroundings and notice even the littlest things, such as moving their litter box to a different location. So, if you invite a new pet, a baby, or other family member into the home, it can take some adjustment.

Also, if you move to a new home or have some other major environmental change, it can really throw off your cat for a while, causing odd and unusual behaviors to occur.

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When to See a Vet

If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, including going to the bathroom out of the litter box, consider making a trip to the vet. Regardless of whether it’s stress or a medical health condition, your vet can help you get to the bottom of it so you can work to create a better environment that will help to eliminate the poor behavior before it becomes a habit.

The ultimate solution will depend on the underlying cause. If your cat is anxious, for example, your vet might prescribe supplements or medications to control these impulses. But if your cat has something a little more serious, they will need to put together a treatment plan.

vet holding cat in the clinic
Image By: megaflopp, Shutterstock

So, Do Cats Revenge Poop?

Without being able to get into the minds of our cats (wouldn’t that be interesting!), we can’t say for sure that cats never engage in a “revenge poop,” but the majority of the time, a cat toileting outside their litter box is due to stress or illness. Many stories about revenge pooping are because of a perceived reaction to something the owner has done, hence they believe it is for revenge. Although it is unlikely that the underlying reason for the slighted feline pooping in your shoe or handbag is revenge, it may still be related to the negative experience they had.

If your cat felt stressed, threatened, mistreated, or ignored, perhaps because you dared to go on vacation or bring home a puppy, this may translate into an inappropriately located poop. Whether this is intended as revenge is more likely to be our interpretation of the facts, but we’ll never know for certain!

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Conclusion

So, now you understand that in most cases, cats don’t poop outside of their litter box just to spite you. Rather than being vengeful, cats will often do this as a response to a stressor of some kind.

If it isn’t a stressor and their environment, it could be an underlying health condition that can be either simple or complex to fix. If you notice any changes in your cat’s overall behavior, get them to your vet right away to discuss treatment options.


Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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