Think outside the box is a good saying until your cat does it during potty time. It can be frustrating when your cat steps in poop and spreads it all over the house, but there are ways to prevent it.
For a notoriously clean animal, it can be surprising when cats track poop all over your house. Nevertheless, long-time feline owners know that this is a common problem.
As someone who has owned cats for years, I share the same struggle with fellow pet owners. My orange tabby Watson used to have the same problem until we came up with an easy solution.
In this post, I will share why your cat tracks litter or poop and what you can do about it.
Why does my cat step in its poop?
Identifying the cause of the problem will let you know how to fix the stinky problem. For the most part, the following is the reason why your cat may step on its poop:
1. Litter box problems
Litter box issues are the most common culprits as to why your kitty is stepping on its poop. Unless these issues are fixed, your pet will continue to spread poop around.
Here are the most common litter box problems that you need to address:
- The litter box is too small. As your cat grows bigger, its litter box should keep up. If not, the kitty will always step on its poop while covering it.
- The litter box is dirty. If there’s too much poop in the litter box, your cat will step on it and spread it on the floor. This is more common if you have multiple cats sharing one litter box.
- The litter isn’t clumping well. A poorly clumping litter will leave the stool uncovered. When your cat steps on it, the poop sticks on its paw.
- You have a top-entry litter box. A cat is more likely to step on poop if they’re using top-entry models. Since cats must jump out to the top, they will likely track poop in the process.
2. Stress and anxiety
Aside from your cat’s litter box, stress and anxiety can also be the reason. Cats often behave differently when they are stressed or anxious, which includes not covering their poop in the litter box.
Felines are sensitive beings, and they get easily stressed over sudden changes in the household. It could happen if you move to a new place, lose a loved one, bring home a new pet, or you start a new schedule.
Aside from stepping on poop, a stressed cat will also exhibit a slew of other behavioral problems. Some will have accidents around the house or become aggressive out of nowhere.
3. Fear or feeling unsafe
Pooping is a vulnerable moment for cats. They will get easily scared or threatened if they hear loud sounds, unusual smells, or an unfamiliar presence.
When your kitty senses this while defecating, it may run away even before it gets to cover the poop. In most cases, your cat may also step on the poop as it tries to exit the litter box in haste.
4. Health issues
Medical conditions can also be the root of the problem. This can make it difficult for your cat to enter and exit the litter box without stepping on its poop.
Health issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia make it hard for felines to get out of the litter box. They tend to struggle to jump, causing them to stomp on the poop inside the box.
Conditions that put cats in pain while moving will increase their risk of stepping on poop. If you suspect that this is the problem, you should consult your cat’s veterinarian for the proper medication.
5. Diet problems
A diet that makes your cat’s stool soft is also to blame for the problem. A soft or runny stool will make it difficult for your cat to cover.
Aside from that, soft poop can spread all over the litter box. If your cat steps on it, you’ll have a messy problem to clean later on.
6. Old age
Lastly, old age can cause balance issues for your cat. In this case, your cat will have a hard time squatting and balancing.
When it loses its balance, your cat may step on its stool as it tries to regain composure. It’s common among old felines and very young kittens.
How to stop a cat from stepping in poop?
Tracking poop and litter is a messy problem, but you can do something to stop it. Here are some of the steps that worked for my cat Watson:
1. Switch to a bigger litter box
The first thing you have to do is get a bigger litter box. This way, your cat won’t have to squish itself inside and step on its poop all the time.
Aside from the larger size, you should also avoid top-entry models. Opt for a low-sided litter box, so it will be easier even for an arthritic feline to use.
2. Place the litter box in a quieter spot.
Once you have the right litter box, the next step is to place it in the right spot. Choose a quiet, low-traffic area in your house where your kitty can peacefully do its business.
This way, your cat will not feel unsafe during potty breaks. It’s perfect for nervous cats who get started easily.
3. Be diligent about cleaning.
As much as possible, you should scoop after your cat. This will prevent the kitty from stepping on the stool on its next litter box trip.
This is also crucial if you have multiple cats at home. Fecal matter accumulates fast inside a litter box of a multi-feline household.
Aside from preventing tracking, diligent scooping will also save your nose from the bad smell. It will also reduce the bacterial buildup inside the box.
4. Trim your cat’s fur
If you have a long-haired cat, it will help a lot to trim its fur. This way, it won’t track litter or get in contact with poop.
You don’t necessarily have to shave your cat. A little trim will go a long way in preventing a mess around your house.
5. Add more fiber to your cat’s diet.
Cats are more likely to track loose stools. If your kitty has this problem, you should add more fiber to its diet or switch to a fiber-rich food product.
Aside from improving stool consistency, the added fiber will also make it easier for your cat to defecate. It enhances overall gut health to prevent diarrhea, constipation, digestive upset, and even the risk of obesity.
6. Buy a better litter
Consider testing different types of litter to see which one prevents tracking. Overall, choose a litter with the least dust so it doesn’t stick on your cat’s fur.
Clumping litter is a good choice since it clings to the poop well. So even if your cat steps on the stool, the poop won’t directly stick to its paws.
Aside from getting the right litter, make sure that you also refill regularly. There should be enough litter, so your pet can cover its poop and prevent stepping on it.
7. Get a catcher mat
Another solution to prevent your cat from tracking poop and litter is to use a tracker mat. You’ll place it right by the entrance of the litter box.
This will catch any litter or poop that clung onto your cat’s paw pads and fur. While it won’t catch all the stuck poop, it can reduce the mess you’ll clean later.
8. Consult your cat’s veterinarian
Lastly, you should consult your cat’s veterinarian if the problem persists after trying all these solutions. This is especially helpful if you suspect that your cat is suffering from a health issue.
Moreover, the vet may recommend an alternative solution for cats with arthritis and joint problems.
Is it normal for kittens to step in their poop?
It’s natural for kittens to step on their poop as they try to master the art of litter training. As your kitten grows older, it will be more accurate in covering its poop.
If the mother cat is around, you should let it guide and clean the kitten. Most of the time, this problem will be fixed as your kitty matures.
Should I clean my cat after she poops?
You don’t really have to clean your cat every time it poops. Felines are natural groomers, so they can take care of the dirt on their coats.
However, there are times when your cat may need some help. This is often the case with long-haired cats and flat-nosed cat breeds who can’t groom their entire body properly.
To minimize this need, make sure that your cat’s fur is trimmed and kept to the minimum possible length.
Do cats lick poop off themselves?
This may sound gross, but yes, cats tidy themselves up when poop sticks to their fur or skin. This happens a lot when a cat has watery or runny poop.
You’ll notice your cat licking its behind to clean up. But if your kitty has a firm stool, it won’t usually lick its anal area.
Nevertheless, it won’t hurt to wipe your cat if you see streaks of poop so it doesn’t spread on other surfaces.
Cats are clean beings, but they can cause a mess from time to time. Your pet may step in poop and track it all over your floor and furniture.
With the right approach, this problem is easy to fix. Litter box changes, diet adjustments, and a consultation with the vet can be the solutions you’re looking for.
Always be patient, and never punish your cat for the mess. Focus on identifying the cause of the problem to come up with an effective solution.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.