Ask Dr Claire
Since getting 8 week old kitten home he has been passing poop only outside of the litter tray. It’s been 2 weeks, I’ve tried everything and I don’t know what to do.
Two weeks at home is still early days and it may take a little time and patience but most cats tend to get the hang of litter trays eventually.
A good way to start is to go back to basics. Clean all soiled areas with an enzymatic cleaner, and an odour neutraliser. He needs to be confined to a smaller area such as a bathroom with the litter tray. I would also provide him 2 x litter trays with 2 x different litter types just in case he prefers one over the other. The trays also need to be cleaned as soon as they are used (the whole litter – not just the soiled area), many cats simply won’t go in a used tray.
He needs to be let out for stimulation and essential play behaviour, but this needs to be 100% supervised.
When there are no accidents and he’s only going in the litter tray, then he can be slowly allowed in larger spaces, even unsupervised.
A hands-on examination from your local vet would be a great place to start, to make sure is healthy. It’s worth trying a stress reducing device such as Feliway (artificial feline pheromone which is calming to cats). This plugs into an outlet and is best used in the room he is spending most time.
As a side note – if you manage to see him poop in the litter tray do praise him and reward with a tasty treat, but don’t punish when he doesn’t – it will add to anxiety and may make the behaviours worse.
It’s also a good idea to keep a record of when any issues occur as we may see a pattern to the behaviour.
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