Campbell cat takes a liking to outdoor bathroom options

DEAR JOAN: At the end of last year, our cat, Duchess, started pooping in the backyard, and then her sister, Princess, started doing the same thing. Both would still use one of our three indoor open litter boxes for peeing.

Unfortunately, we lost Princess last November but Duchess is still pooping outside and peeing inside, unless she’s locked in, and then she will poop in the litter boxes.

Duchess has been on medication for quite a while for peeing outside the litter box prior to the pooping outside. There have been no changes in the environment, litter, etc.

Although, we allow them in the backyard, they can’t get out because of the cat fencing. Any insight would be appreciated.

Jim, Campbell

DEAR JIM: Cats can have complicated relationships with their litter boxes.

The most common reason for rejecting a litter box in favor of somewhere else in the house or going outdoors is a medical issue that causes pain when urinating or defecating. Cat logic blames the litter box for the pain, so they start avoiding it.

That could be the reason Duchess started peeing outside the box, and you’ve done the right thing by seeing a vet and having her on medication.

I think it’s likely Duchess’ preference for pooping al fresco is likely nothing more than preferring a breeze beneath her bum when she goes, but it could be a matter of extending a dominance over her domain.

She could also be pooping outside as a way of distancing herself from any real or imagined enemies. When cats were truly wild, they would defecate far from their dens so their scent didn’t betray them to predators. Today’s cats do the same thing, which is why wandering cats poop in the neighbor’s flower bed and not their own.

Pooping outdoors will only become an issue if Duchess starts visiting other yards, which you assure me she can’t, or if she starts refusing to use the indoor litter boxes. As long as that doesn’t happen, I say let the Duchess reign. (Although she should be supervised when outdoors to protect her and the wildlife in your yard.)

DEAR JOAN: Our two cats of 15 years both died a few months ago. We adopted a 2-year-old cat from Milo Foundation 5 days ago.

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