Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My cat goes to the bathroom in the litter box, but he never quite gets it all out. He always, unfailingly, has poop stuck to his butt. And not just after he goes; it’s there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He sits on our furniture, on our pillows, on us, and all over the house with this poop stuck to his butt. I have tried pulling it off with some toilet paper but he won’t let me. What is the problem? Why can’t he get it all out and what can we do about it? Thanks.
Siouxsie: First of all, Laura, we’d suggest talking to your vet. If your cat has diarrhea, it’s more likely that he’ll end up with poop on his britches. Solid, well-formed stools don’t generally leave a lot of cling-ons in the fur around a cat’s anus. Your vet may have some ideas on how to treat the diarrhea.
Thomas: Long-haired cats and overweight cats tend to have trouble grooming their rear ends, too. If your cat has long hair, your cat may have fewer problems with poop in his fur if you trim the hairs around his bottom. If you do trim the hairs on his butt, be sure to use round-tipped scissors so you don’t accidentally poke him. You’ll probably want to have a friend hold him as you trim.
Dahlia: Overweight cats are simply too fat to be able to reach around and clean their rear ends. If your cat is overweight, he’ll need your help in the cleaning department and you really should get him on a weight-loss plan in order to avoid health risks such as Type II diabetes, arthritis and lameness, and heart problems.
Siouxsie: The body condition chart at right shows a variety of weight points for cats. The average is a 5; if your cat looks closer to a 7, he’s overweight; and if he’s a 9, he’s morbidly obese. Consult with your vet about a healthy diet and exercise plan to help your kitty lose weight.
Thomas: A vet consultation is particularly important if your cat is very obese for the same reasons that severely obese people should talk to a doctor before undertaking an exercise program. You want to create an exercise plan that helps your cat burn more calories but doesn’t tax his already-stressed heart and lungs.
Dahlia: Now on to the subject of getting — and keeping — your kitty clean.
Siouxsie: The first order of business is a litter box check. Make sure you keep the box scrupulously clean. Remove waste at least twice a day. The less poop there is in the box, the less poop will get on his fur.
Thomas: If you use a covered litter box, remove the cover. If your cat is really big, either because he’s of a big breed like a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat or because he’s obese, he may not have enough room to assume an appropriate pooping position in a covered box.
Dahlia: And when you do clean the poop off your cat’s bottom, don’t just yank on the fur with a dry piece of toilet paper. Pulling the fur in a sensitive area such as the skin near the anus is very painful. Instead, use a washcloth dampened with warm water to moisten the fecal matter and then gently pull or wipe it out of the fur. You can use a moist paper towel instead if you wish.
Siouxsie: Your hygiene assistance will be most effective if you manage to clean him up before the waste has hardened, so if you can clean his bottom just after he’s finished doing his business, that will work best.
Thomas: If your cat was hit by a car or had his tail yanked really hard, it’s possible that nerve damage is making him somewhat incontinent. If this is the case, you’re going to have to get used to cleaning him up on a regular basis.
Dahlia: The easiest way to keep your cat from getting poop stains and cling-ons on your furniture is to use washable slip covers or blankets on areas where he likes to hang out. You can use an enzymatic cleaner like Anti Icky-Poo to get rid of stains and odors that are already in your furniture and carpets. (Although this product is marketed primarily as a urine remover, it, like all enzyme cleaners, will remove feces, vomit, and blood as well.)
Siouxsie: Good luck, Laura. We hope we’ve been able to help.