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Elderly cat toileting outside the litter tray

(16 Posts)
RobinsNest17 Sat 31-Aug-19 16:34:44

Our 19 year old rescue cat, who we have had over 10 years, has started over the past three months or so to pee and poo outside the litter tray. She's still going into the tray, and is standing inside it, but is leaving her rear end hanging over the edge. I've taken to standing the tray on top of puppy training pads to protect the floor, but if anything it's making it worse. Almost all toileting for the past week has been outside of the tray.

She's in OK health generally- not on any medication, a bit arthritic but not in visible pain (limited self grooming, doesn't jump higher than the bed anymore etc), although she did suffer from blocked anal glands last year (one of which ruptured).

Both husband and I have never owned a cat before her, so we don't know if this is typical old age behaviour for a cat. Is it? Can anyone more experienced suggest how we can get her to go back to using the tray properly again? Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Toddlerteaplease Sat 31-Aug-19 17:08:45

Get a shallower/bigger tray. She may be finding it to deep to comfortably use.

Vinorosso74 Sat 31-Aug-19 17:09:33

Have you tried a larger tray? Not deeper but just one with a larger surface area.

dementedpixie Sat 31-Aug-19 17:11:56

Maybe try a tray with higher sides so her back end wont hang over

TwentyEight12 Sat 31-Aug-19 17:18:40

Yes I have experienced a change in toileting habits in older cats. It may be that she no longer registers where the tray is and where she is. When I’ve seen cats do this, they’ve been pretty disorientated because there was an underlying illness going on. Animals are amazing at hiding illness, it’s not till they start doing something like this that you realise something is amiss.

Fernie6491 Sat 31-Aug-19 17:30:15

One solution would be to get a large tall-sided storage box, cut a section out and place the litter tray inside, then if she hangs over the edge the pee or poo can still be caught and dealt with.
A friend's elderly cat started doing this and the pee was going under the edge of a fridge, and smelling. This solved the problem.(sorry for the dodgy drawing trying to explain what I mean!)

dementedpixie Sat 31-Aug-19 17:32:47

We have this tray

SconeofDestiny Sat 31-Aug-19 18:32:07

Sadly, I agree with @TwentyEight12 and there's probably an underlying illness. I've had several cats and when they get old, their toiletting habits changed when they developed illnesses.

Plump82 Sat 31-Aug-19 19:06:37

For my old girl it was because she was in so much pain with her arthritis that she couldn't crouch down properly and did her toilet more or less standing up.

MsMightyTitanAndHerTroubadours Sat 31-Aug-19 19:10:05

get a bigger tray to sit the existing tray works! We did this when our old boy got less nimble. Although he was never that good with litter trays, he liked to back up to a corner and just go even as a kitten his accuracy left a good deal of room for improvement.

Current cats really like a scratch about and they both like to face into a corner so cat business is in the centre of the tray!

RobinsNest17 Sat 31-Aug-19 21:22:20

Genuine thanks for all the responses and ideas.

I don't think there is underlying illness as she had a thorough check through at the vet as she lost weight- originally with no reason but then we discovered the (yuck) blocked anal glands and once they were emptied she started to gain weight again. We also trialled daily pain meds to see if arthritis was really hurting her and her eating/toileting habits didn't change (in fact she showed no change whatsoever) so we stopped the medication again.

I'm going to try a larger tray, and one with higher sides. She seems to think she's doing it in the tray- she kicks to 'bury' it, but her back end is so high up it goes over the edge. In that sense it probably is the arthritis in that she isn't crouching enough. I'll try a new tray and see how it goes. Thanks again!

OP’s posts: |
Mia184 Sat 31-Aug-19 21:41:09

Did the vet do a geriatric blood profile?

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 01-Sep-19 00:08:42

Our elderly cat used to do this (she was 17) but she rarely used a tray so I think it was spacial awareness .

Present cats are 1 year old and nimble , but one (or both) sometimes miss their huge tray (it is in the under stairs cupboard so private )

We use one of those under bed storage trays so plenty of space and much bigger than even the XL trays .....but even with deep litter and regular cleaning/pooh scooping , they don't always aim true .

They are very fastidious little animals so I have no idea why .

RobinsNest17 Sun 01-Sep-19 08:32:03

@Mia184 They did a range of blood tests, which showed nothing abnormal. I'm not sure if they were specifically geriatric tests, but the vet was aware of the age of the cat. They also xrayed (I think, or it might have been scanned) her abdomen.

Then again, (TMI) all this didn't pick up the problem with the blocked anal glands until one burst. I came home one day to find an awful bloody nasty puss mess and what looked like an extra bum hole to the left of the real one! Apparently the blocked gland thing isn't common with cats so no vet would have checked it as standard (so they said). Now the vet 'expresses' the contents of the glands each time we take her for nail clipping to make sure they don't get blocked again.

OP’s posts: |
madcatladyforever Sun 01-Sep-19 11:29:34

Me too OP, my cat shits everywhere, it's driving me potty (no pun intended).
She's 18, has hyperthyroidism and is very skinny. Gets seen regularly by the vet who just says it's an end of life thing.
This morning I stood in some random poo and walked it all over the house on my flip flops - went mental (not with her obviously).
Tried it all, boxes, shallow trays, everything.
We're moving to Somerset and will be renting a tiny one bed flat for 6 months while I decide what to buy. I can only imagine the carnage.
Well my view is neither of our kitties are likely to last that much longer - just grin and bear it and enjoy the time we have left with them.

Plump82 Sun 01-Sep-19 12:52:43

I dont agree with blocked anal glands not being common in cats. Again mine suffered with that a lot and they were emptied regularly. Blocked anal glands also go hand in hand with toileting issues as usually the glands are emptied along with going to the toilet. So if she's struggling with her litter box, shes maybe not emptying the glands as much as she should be. That then makes her uncomfortable which again could cause litter box problems. It's a vicious circle.

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