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Do Cats Poop Out of Spite? Cat Behavior Explained

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on April 24, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat pooping

Do Cats Poop Out of Spite? Cat Behavior Explained

If you’ve owned felines for very long, you probably have gotten the impression that they do lots of things out of spite when you make them angry. After all, having a cat is more like a roommate relationship than anything else, at least, according to the felines.

Most cats consider themselves your equal and even sometimes your superior. If you were worried that your cat might be dropping poop bombs as a way to make a statement, you may be right in a certain sense. If they are deviating from their waste schedule or location, they are definitely trying to communicate. However, the reason has nothing to do with spite. Let’s explain further.


Cats Naturally Want to Cover Waste

Cats are clean creatures. If you’ve ever watched a cat’s behavior, they are always self-grooming their paws, coats, and private parts, the whole kitten kaboodle. They care very much about hygiene.

So, if your cat is pooping outside of the litter box, it’s highly likely that it has more to do with another problem. Instinctually, cats want to cover up their waste. If they poop on the floor, they cannot do that, making it an undesirable place for them to do their business.

cat pooping on the street
Image Credit: Pathara Sanjou, Shutterstock

Why Cats Poop Outside the Litter Box

If you take them to the vet, the team will want to know more about what’s happening at home. They’re going to go over any changes that might’ve occurred, such as bringing home a baby or adding a new pet to the family.

And they will also do a health analysis. Suddenly pooping outside of the litter box has just as great of a chance of being medical as behavioral.

Here are some possibilities to consider.

Sudden Changes in the Home

Sudden changes in the home can have dramatic effects on your cat’s personality. Every cat adjusts differently to variations in their routine. Some of them take no time whatsoever to familiarize themselves with something new. On the other hand, some are creatures of habit that accept change very slowly.

And some don’t accept change at all. There are several things that could cause an environmental upheaval, such as moving apartments or houses. You might also be introducing another pet into the home.

Even the introduction of a new family member, like a baby or a roommate, could cause sudden behavioral changes as your cat grows to understand the environmental changes.

hand picking up cat poop
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

Undiagnosed Mobility Issues

Your cat might be experiencing developing mobility issues. As your cat ages, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that they are declining. There are tons of joint issues that can make getting in and out of a litter box very painful for your cats.

In a moment of necessity, they may eliminate outside of their litter box because they can’t get in comfortably anymore. In this case, you probably will notice that they go to the bathroom relatively close to their litter box.

There are several different diseases and disorders that can deteriorate or limit mobility. For instance, if your cat has arthritis, it might be painful for them to get in and out of the litter box now. If your cat starts eliminating outside of the litter box, you might try to get a litter box with a lower entry point.

Eliminating outside of the litter box won’t be the only thing you notice when your cat starts developing mobility issues. You might notice that they are sluggish or lazier than normal due to it being painful to move. They might also swat, cry, hiss, or wince when you touch certain parts of their body.

If you feel like your cat might be developing a serious joint issue that is preventing them from living their everyday life, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. For the most part, these issues are manageable, so you’re able to give your cat a good quality of life.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal issues are not all that uncommon in cats. Plenty of cats suffer from issues that affect these aspects of their system. If your cat is developing a long-term illness or momentary infection, it could definitely cause elimination outside of the litter box.

However, when the issue is treated, this situation is likely to be resolved. While there are several stomach and intestinal issues that your cat could face, only certain ones would cause them to go to the bathroom out of their box.

Some examples of gastrointestinal issues for cats include:
  • Gastritis
  • Digestive cancers
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Your vet can do the proper blood work or imaging to get a better idea about what might be going on inside your cat’s body.

cat pooping outside
Image By: AjayTvm, Shutterstock


If your cat has a parasitic issue, such as intestinal worms, it can cause a momentary loss of control of bowel movements. You might also see live worms crawling in their feces, depending on what kind of worms they have.

Some parasitic infections are not visible in feces, so this is not a surefire way to tell. But proper diagnosis is incredibly crucial because parasites in your cat’s system rob them of their necessary nutrients, causing malabsorption and malnutrition in some cases.

Some of the most common types of parasites found in cats include:
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworms
  • Stomach worms
  • Giardia
  • Toxoplasmosis

Many times, having a parasitic issue is a silent problem. You might not notice any direct signs, however, signs of a parasitic infection also include:

  • Dry, lackluster coat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss

You can go to your veterinarian or even a local pet shop to pick up a high-quality dewormer to take care of the issue.

Litter Box Hygiene

If any litter box changes have happened, this could cause your cat to go to the bathroom outside of their litter box. You might just think that a litter dog box disruption would include moving the litter box to another location or having too many cats use the same box.

Cats are incredibly clean animals, and they like their living spaces to be sanitary. If they are visiting the litter box and it becomes too dirty in between scooping, they might resort to going outside of the box. This is not a behavior of protest but rather of desperation.

It’s also true that if you have a litter that sticks to your cat’s paws, they might not like to stand on it. If they do not like the texture, smell, or coverage of the litter, they might look for a place to go in the home.

Cats can be quite particular; all owners know this. So, if you have recently changed litters and the texture of the granules is drastically different, switch back to a similar or the same brand you were using previously to see if the issue resolves itself.

In the future, you may have to accommodate your cat by getting a litter that they find satisfactory.

cat poop in litter box_Shutterstock_SURKED
Image By: SURKED, Shutterstock

Fear or Anxiety

You might not even recognize symptoms of fear and your cat. It’s not always so detectable, especially if you aren’t paying attention. If there is a litter box near something that is unfamiliar or frightening to them, it might prevent them from going.

It might be that a newcomer is staying in a room very close to their litter box, or you have the vacuum cleaner sitting next to it. Whatever it might be, an object or person might be driving your cat away from doing their business in the right spot.

Also, realistically, there might be issues that you don’t recognize at first glance. What sparks anxiety for your cat might seem like normal everyday stuff to you. Also, anxiety is a clinical issue that sometimes requires medication.

If your cat is anxious, you will notice this affecting them in many facets of their life. Anxious cats tend to be very skittish, spooking with very little provocation.

They also might be moody and sensitive to when and how they interact within the home. If this anxiety issue is affecting their bathroom habits, it’s time to get the problem under control so everything can go back to normal, and your cat can feel that way, too.

Changes in Bowel Movements

Sometimes, stomachs can just be plain sensitive. Whether it’s something that you ate or just the way your body is digesting food that day, it can create momentary changes in bowel habits.

Our cats are no exception, as we all know they can get into things that are less than good for them sometimes. If your cat ate something that didn’t agree with their stomach, they might be having uncontrollable diarrhea.

If this has only happened once or twice, it shouldn’t be cause for concern. It could just be that your cat’s stomach is irritated.

But do look for changes that are long-term. Cats with sensitive stomachs are sometimes incredibly reactive to certain ingredients and commercial pet foods. This could compel a dietary change that needs to be addressed.

There are plenty of commercial recipes designed to soothe your cat’s sensitive stomach. So don’t worry about finding products to match your cat’s needs. However, it is essential to uproot why your cat reacts badly to their food.

If your cat is suddenly experiencing diarrhea, it can cause the inability to get to the litter box in time. Changes in bowel habits can be temporary and usually clear up independently.

However, some underlying causes of diarrhea may be long-term, requiring testing and examination from your veterinarian. Some tests are super simple, and others might be a little bit more complicated. But if you have any health concerns about your cat, it’s best to get them in for an appointment.

cat poop in litterbox
Image By: RJ22, Shutterstock

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Pinpointing the Issue

Dealing with issues like laminating outside of the litter box can be pretty challenging for cat owners. If you’re always having to clean up after your cat, it can exhaust you to clean up after bad behavior continuously.

However, solutions are reachable; you just have to gather the right resources. If this is an ongoing problem and you can’t pinpoint an obvious issue, get them to your vet right away.

They can do a few basic tests, such as blood work, to see if anything else might be going on under the surface.

• You might also like: Do Cats Like Privacy When They Poop? What Do They Prefer? 

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The bottom line is that your cat doesn’t poop out of spite. It might feel like they are punishing you, especially if laying waste outside of their designated area is happening all the time. But realistically, there’s always an underlying cause, and it isn’t that they are angry with you.

If you’re concerned about your cat or notice any additional symptoms, speak with your vet for further guidance.

Featured Image Credit: NeydtStock, Shutterstock

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