Your cat may be good at using the litter box, but if they’re peeing over the edge, or exhibiting strange behavior, like standing to poop, it may have you worried.
Why does my cat stand on the edge of the litter box to poop?
If the veterinarian has given your cat a clean bill of health, your cat likely stands on the edge of the litter box to poop because it’s more comfortable for them. It takes some pressure off their hind legs so they don’t have to balance while squatting.
Although it’s typically harmless behavior when your cat stands on the edge of the litter box to poop, there are certain situations to pay attention to and correct.
The following are 8 reasons cats stand on the edge of the litter box to poop, how to identify which is a fit for your cat, and how to correct the behavior.
Always mention new behavior to your veterinarian so they can eliminate the possibility of health issues being the cause.
1) The litter box is too dirty
If you find your cat is perching on the edge of the litter box, the litter may be too dirty for their liking.
Cats don’t want to step on their waste, which is why you need two litter boxes for one cat and should be scooping them, at minimum, once a day; twice or more is better.
If there are several clumps your cat must navigate when trying to find a clean spot to dig, they may need to dig a hole closer to the edge of the litter box. This doesn’t give them enough room to stand in a clean spot in the litter box, which may be why they stand on the edge.
If your cat has been dealing with a dirty litter box for an extended period, they may have built a habit of using the edge.
If your cat places all four paws on the edge of the litter box when pooping (and peeing), it may be a sign that you need to improve your litter scooping and cleaning duties.
No matter how often you scoop, increase the frequency to see if it helps. Some cats don’t want even one clump of waste in their litter when they use it. We have to keep in mind that cats would never eliminate in the same spot twice in the wild. So it’s essential to keep their small litter box as clean as possible if you want them to continue to use it and use it properly.
2) It’s more comfortable
A cat basically assumes a squat position when pooping. This position can be tiring on your cat’s hind leg muscles.
A simple solution for your cat may be to rest their front paws on the edge of the litter box so they have a more upright position when pooping.
It gives their back legs a rest, and they keep their behind away from their feces once they land in the litter box.
If your cat is older, this reason may be more likely for them. A more senior cat won’t have the same muscle strength they once did, and they may be experiencing joint and/or muscle pain.
Contact your vet if this is new behaviour. They may want to examine your cat to ensure they’re not dealing with pain or hiding an illness.
3) To stay clean
I’ve noticed my two cats sit higher when pooping versus peeing. When they pee, most of their back paws are resting on the litter and their tushies only hover a centimeter or two above the litter.
However, when pooping, they’re more upright and hovering several centimeters above the litter. They’re more so standing on their toes rather than the entire flat part of their leg.
The difference in positioning is most likely due to them wanting to stay clean. Urine typically soaks down into the litter, whereas feces sit on top. This leaves a greater chance of their poop coming in contact with their hindquarters, which is why cats typically like to get higher when pooping.
Standing on the edge of the litter box gives your cat even more leverage so they keep their feces away from their fur.
If their litter box is kept clean and they use it normally when peeing, this is more likely the reason your cat stands on the edge when pooping.
As long as your veterinarian has ruled out any health issues as the reason for their litter box behavior, you can chalk it up to their cleanliness.
4) They’re constipated
Standing on the edge of the litter box may be more comfortable for your cat when they’re straining due to constipation. The different position may help them poop.
If you’ve changed their diet or noticed they’re not drinking as much water, their stool may be harder and harder to pass. If standing on the edge of the litter box to poop is new behavior, constipation may be the reason.
When you scoop their litter, take a closer look to see if the poop appears harder or dryer than usual. Contact your veterinarian if you notice a change in their feces.
6) They don’t like their litter
Your cat may be trying to keep litter off their paws by using the edge of the litter box.
The litter may be uncomfortable on their paws, they may not like the scent when they have to clean their paws, or they may hate when it gets stuck between their paws as they step on it.
If you find your cat stands on the edge of the litter box when they pee and poop, doesn’t walk through their litter box, doesn’t dig much in it, and doesn’t tend to cover their pee or poop, the texture of the litter may be the reason. This may also be the likely reason if you notice your cat perches on the edge of the litter box, keeping all four paws out of the litter.
Try changing the litter to something softer and smaller grained.
A cat would use sand or soft dirt to dig in, eliminate, and cover their waste in the wild. The closer your cat litter is to that texture, the better.
Traditional clay litters can be too hard on your cat’s toes, and very uncomfortable when it gets stuck between them. This is especially true if they step in wet clumping litter and it hardens between their toes.
Sustainably Yours is a safe, environmentally-friendly litter with a sand-like texture. It’s the litter I use and recommend.
7) They don’t like the litter depth
Cats need enough litter in the box to dig a small hole, but not too much litter, which can make it hard for them to walk on.
Imagine walking in an inch or two of shifting sand versus 5 or 6 inches. The deeper the loose sand, the harder it will be for you to walk and keep your balance.
It’s likely the same feeling your cat has when the litter is too deep, which is why experts recommend keeping litter depth between 2 – 4 inches.
Try pouring less litter in the box next time you change it to see if it encourages your cat to be fully in the box when pooping.
8) Their litter box is too small
Most litter boxes on the market are too small based on the average size of cats. A litter box should be 1.5x the length of a cat. This size gives your cat enough room to turn around after digging their hole, and more room to find a clean spot.
If a small litter box is combined with a dirty litter box, it will feel even smaller to your cat and make it difficult for them to use it.
If the litter box is the same length as your cat, their behavior may be due to it being too small.
Try purchasing a larger litter box to see if it changes their behavior.
I hope this article has helped you determine why your cat stands on the edge of the litter box to poop. Please check with your veterinarian to see if they’re concerned and want to check them out.
You may also be interested in: