Cat is Pooping on My Bed

by Kaity

Hi, my name is Kaity and I am trying to make a very tough decision about my cat. I will try to give you as many details as I possibly can, but I hope I don’t bore you. We got Kali from our neighbor, whose cat was having kittens.

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We loved, loved, loved the mother cat. She was so very sweet and when I found out she has having kittens, I knew I just had to have one! Unfortunately, Kali turned out to be nothing like her mother. Of course, she’s my cat and I love her, but frankly, she’s not nice.

We constantly have to warn people that come over to our house not to touch her. She’s a gorgeous calico, so naturally people want to pet her, but she immediately hisses or tries to nip at their hands. Once, a guy just walked by her, didn’t touch her or even see her there, and she hissed at him!

My kitty has her front paws declawed, but she still uses her back claws as defense and won’t hesitate to scratch someone. The only person she really likes is me. Sometimes, if she’s in a good mood, she will lick me on the neck or arm and knead her paws back and forth and purr very loudly. But then, all of a sudden, she will turn on me and start trying to rip my skin off! And sometimes, when I walk into my bedroom, she will jump out from under the bed and attack my ankles. It’s really annoying and painful! But that’s not the worse part.

About 4 years ago, when we went on vacation (we had had Kali for at least 3 months by this time), we came home and found that my kitty had pooped all over my bed. Our friend who was feeding her and cleaning out her litter box was so embarrassed that she took my bedding home and washed it herself. Of course, I was upset, but I just thought, “Oh poor thing, she missed me so bad!” Well, that wasn’t the end of it. She has been randomly pooping on the bed on and off since then.

The first thing we tried to do was build her her own private bathroom. A friend of ours made a cabinet with a hole on the door large enough for her to get through and she wouldn’t even get in it. When I would put her in it, she would get really scared. We tried washing all my bedding in Nature’s Miracle, but that didn’t work. Our vet told us it might be the soft feeling that she wanted so we put a blanket under her litter box, and that didn’t work.

She would continue to pee in her litter box and she would continue to poop in it regularly but then, randomly, she would decide to go on my bed again. We can’t seem to find any triggers at all.

Anyway, so when I moved to a different room in the house, I purchased all new bedding and she didn’t poop on the bed for a while, but then, one day, she did it again. We have tried the Breeze litter box system, new food, new litter, and even 2 litter boxes, but in the end, we stay with what we had in the first place. She has only peed on the bed a couple of times and she has only peed or pooped on someone else’s bed a few times. Most of the time, my cat poops on my bed.

A few months later we got a dog, and the first thing Kali did was hiss at her. They still hate each other, but do well if they both generally avoid each other. Schnooki, our dog, hardly ever goes in my room, which works out because Kali the cat rarely leaves my room. The dog didn’t seem to trigger any pooping on the bed - it continued to be random and sporadic.

About a year and half ago we moved to Tennessee. I was very excited to be a whole new house because I thought for sure it would break her stubborn habit. And I was right, for about 6 months. Then she started doing it again. For about 2 weeks, she pooped on the bed every single day. And I washed my bedding every single day. And to punish her, we put her in the laundry room (where her litter box is) for the day.

At this point, we were all really fed up with her. My parents really wanted to get rid of her but I just wasn’t ready. She had gone for a couple of months without doing it and now, all of a sudden, she has again. On Saturday, my kitty peed on the bed and on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, she pooped on it. It’s really got to stop. I really can’t stand it anymore.

My cat knows that what she’s doing is wrong, too. She always does this vigorous scratching motion on the bed right before she poops and when I see her do it she gets scared and her fur stands on end. Then she’ll run and hide.

This morning, I caught her in the act and immediately starting spanking her and then I put her in the laundry room. But I’ve done that before and still she continues to do it.

I’m just at my wits end and I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried everything I can think of, including looked online, and talked to our vet, and nothing seems to work. Everyone says, “There’s got to be something that triggers her to do it” and we just can’t find it. There is simply no rhyme or reason to when she decides to poop on the bed or poop in the litter box. I can’t figure it out.

I think I am ready to give her away to someone else, but like I mentioned before, she’s not a nice cat so she doesn’t exactly have an impressive selling list. And there are no guarantees she won’t poop on her new owner’s beds. But I definitely don’t want to put her down. She may not be an angel of a cat but she doesn’t deserve to die.

My parents are frustrated, and I’m frustrated. We just don’t know what to do. My dad called a rescue shelter to see if they were taking any cats and the lady put him on a guilt trip for even considering getting rid of a cat that we’ve had since she was a kitten. So now we feel guilty for even wanting to give her away.

I’m 17 and going to be heading off to college soon, and my parents don’t want the responsibility of taking care of a mean cat that poops on the bed. And I don’t want them to have to deal with that either. I don’t want anyone to have to deal with that! It’s so hard because I really don’t want to keep her but I just can’t find a feasible way we can get rid of her.

I want her to be happy and have a quality life and not be stuck in a cage or our laundry room for the rest of her life. But it’s hard to convince someone to take a cat that is mean, not good with other animals or kids, and has problems with using the litter box.

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Kaity,

Cat elimination problems are a concern of many cat owners. First and foremost, medical causes for your cat's behavior should be ruled out with a veterinarian. Although you brought your kitty to the vet some time ago, a number of medical issues can arise over time, including feline inflammatory bowel, impacted anal sacs, or hyperthyroidism.

When considering possible medical causes, it is important to remember that what may have started the problem initially is not necessarily what is causing the problem today, and vice versa. Before doing anything geared toward cat behavior modification, I would recommend bringing your kitty to a veterinarian for a thorough exam and fecal analysis. Assuming, however, that your kitty has recently been cleared medically and her cat elimination problems are behavioral, there are a number of things I would recommend trying.

First and foremost, cats do not respond well to discipline. You should never hit, yell at, or otherwise physically discipline a cat. Cats respond best to positive reinforcement, and will do better being rewarded for using the litter box or for not biting or scratching by being given treats, gentle petting, and lots of love and praise.

The use of calming products such as pheromone diffusers and sprays by Feliway can help tremendously with both inappropriate litter box behaviors and cat aggression problems. There are even pheromone collars on the market as well. And Rescue Remedy, a calming natural substance for your cat to ingest, can provide additional stress relief for your kitty.

When your cat scratches or hisses, do not respond with fear or anger. For instance, when you are petting your kitty and she suddenly “turns on you,” you should freeze, even though it hurts. You can discourage her behavior by gently whispering “silly kitty” or “stop Kali” in a soft and soothing tone. Most often, the cat will stop rather quickly, and over time, the number of these aggressive outbursts will be reduced. I have had a lot of success with aggressive cats over the years using this method.

Overall, it is clear you love your kitty and want to do what is best for her. Considering that you are leaving for school in the fall, I would suggest that you begin to follow these steps for addressing any medical problems and behavior modification and spend the coming months really working with Kali to become the sweet kitty she is somewhere deep inside. Most cats that behave the way you describe are simply afraid, territorial, or otherwise feel vulnerable. If you can work to gain Kali’s trust, you will have a happier feline.

Once it is time for you to leave for school, however, it sounds as though your kitty will be better off in a different home. I would recommend finding someone you trust, someone you know is going to be willing to work with Kali through all of the ups and downs that are inevitable when addressing these behavioral problems. Perhaps you have a trusted friend or family member that would be willing to take your kitty in when you leave for school, and could even participate in the trust-gaining and behavior modification exercises.

Creating a less stressful environment for your kitty will ultimately be the key to eliminating or reducing her behavioral problems. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right combination of tools to make things better, and sometimes it means finding your kitty a new home.

All the best,
Dr. Neely