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Home > Cats > Elderly Cat Suddenly Pooping on the Floor? 7 Reasons & What to Do

Elderly Cat Suddenly Pooping on the Floor? 7 Reasons & What to Do

cat beside litterbox

As cats become older, they will have a lot of changes in their behavior; some cats may become more affectionate, some might eat less or more, and some may even start pooping on the floor. If you have an elderly cat, and you notice that it’s suddenly pooping on the floor, you’re probably wondering what’s happening.

This article will provide all the possible reasons why your elderly cat is pooping on the floor and how to help your cat use the litter box again.


The 7 Reasons an Elderly Cat Is Suddenly Pooping on the Floor

1. Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common triggers that can make an elderly cat poop and pee at any available spot it can find. There’s an array of things that could make your feline anxious, including:

  • Changes in the household
  • Moving
  • New household members
  • New pets
  • Loud noises
  • Renovations
  • Fireworks
  • Environmental changes

When stressed, a senior cat is more likely to lose control and poop at spots other than its litter box. While this is somewhat normal behavior, it can be extremely tough for older cats with a nervous temperament.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

Typically, cats can adapt to the changes happening around them, they just need some time. Your elderly cat probably needs more time than younger cats to adjust to the new things in their environment. Because of that, try to be there for your feline and show support through this stranger in their life.

However, if the pooping on the floor happens for a while, without signs of improvement, even when the stress triggers reduce, you should take the cat to the vet. That way, you can exclude any medical causes behind this habit.

2. Medical Issues

old gray tabby cat lying on bed
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

As cats age, they become prone to diseases and illnesses and many of these cause unintentional pooping, which can result in your elderly feline pooping on the floor. Here are some of the most common health conditions that lead to poop-related issues in cats:

  • Muscle and joint issues
  • Food allergies
  • Poor vision or blindness
  • Intestinal tumors
  • Arthritis
  • Dementia
  • Thyroid problems
  • Musculoskeletal injuries

Even when a cat isn’t sick but has constipation, it will connect pain with the litter box, try to avoid that area, and poop somewhere else. Similarly, if your feline has diarrhea, it might not make it to the litter box and instead poop somewhere else, including on your floor.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

If your elderly feline typically poops in the litterbox, but it suddenly stops, you should take it to the vet. As there are various health-related conditions that can cause this poop problem, it’s essential to verify your cat is healthy.

3. Dirty Litter Box

Cats like cleanliness, and they want their litter boxes clean. Suppose you have an elderly cat who is healthy but won’t use the litter box, ensure that the litter box is not dirty. Remember that your feline has a strong sense of smell, and a dirty litter box, combined with the smell of feces and urine, will be repulsive to it.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

Nobody likes when their toilet is dirty, and the same goes for cats. If a senior cat won’t go to the litter box and is pooping on the floor, it might be time to clean the litter box. You should make a weekly routine and clean the litter box more frequently than usual. That will help your elderly cat to use the box again.

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4. The Litterbox is In a Hard-to-Reach Spot

cat standing next to a black top entry litter box
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

When a cat ages, it becomes weaker, making it hard to move, and daily things in the cat’s life may become too challenging. At this age, cats need comfort, and as they’re typically less energetic and active, you must make adjustments in your household to help them.

Old cats can poop outside the litter box if the litter box is in a hard-to-reach spot. When a litter box becomes less accessible to your cat, it might not be able to reach the box.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

In these situations, the best thing you can do is move the litter box to an easy-to-access area. That way, your senior cat won’t have to struggle to reach it and will start using the litter box again.

5. Change In Litter

While cats find it important that their litter box is clean, they also worry about another important thing—the litter inside the box. If you used to provide one litter to your elderly feline throughout most of its lifetime, but you suddenly stopped, your cat might start pooping on the floor.

Most cats like litter that resembles sand, and if the new texture puts them off, they might poop elsewhere, including on the floor. Also, there are litters with scents that may smell nice to us, but they repel cats, which is why you should stay away from such products.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

If you recently changed litter, try to look for a replacement similar to the old one. It’s best to look for an unscented, sand-like litter that will make your cat feel comfortable while peeing and pooping inside.

6. New Family Additions

angry cat hisses to another cat
Image Credit: Gurkan Ergun, Shutterstock

An elderly cat can stop using the litter box and poop on the floor instead when you have new additions to your family. This applies to anyone new entering your life and the life of your feline.

Changes such as having a new partner, a baby, or a new pet can lead to your senior cat pooping on the floor out of jealousy and disturbance.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

Whenever introducing someone new to your senior cat, regardless if it’s a person or an animal, you should do it carefully and create a positive experience for both sides. That way, you’ll allow your feline to connect the positive experience with the new family member, allowing it to adapt faster and stop pooping on the floor.

7. Not Enough Litter Boxes

People who have multi-cat homes should have multiple litter boxes, especially when the cats are elderly. You should place them at multiple locations in your home as older cats might have other conditions that make it hard for them to reach the litter box. There’s a rule that every cat should have one litter box and one more elsewhere.

Because of that, the number of litter boxes you need increases per cat. Otherwise, you risk all your cats pooping on the floor due to insufficient litter boxes they can use.

How to Help Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

In this situation, you must purchase enough litter boxes for all your cats. Place each box apart from one another, and if you have a second floor, ensure there are litter boxes both downstairs and upstairs.


Quick Tips on How to Stop Your Cat From Pooping on the Floor

It can get frustrating when your cat is suddenly pooping on the floor, but you should remain calm and try to help your cat through this stage. It’s likely that this unwanted behavior is also uncomfortable for your elderly feline, but it’s something you need to resolve.

Here are a couple of different things you can try to help your senior cat to use the litter box again:
  • Clean the area where the cat pooped as it may return there if there’s scent left on that spot
  • Clean the litter box frequently and thoroughly
  • Address possible health issues and take your feline to the vet
  • Decrease stress triggers and make the environment comfortable and calm
  • Tend to litter box issues—change litter when needed or adjust the location of the box
  • Introduce new family members and pets in a safe environment



Several different things, from stress to severe illnesses, can cause your elderly cat to poop on the floor. Try to observe your feline and find the source of this issue to help your cat go back to using the litter box. Remember that cats at this age need more time to adapt, so be patient and allow the cat to follow its pace.

Featured Image Credit: Alexandra Morosanu, Shutterstock

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