How to Stop a Cat Pooping in the Sink and Bathtub

Siamese in a bath tub.

Getty Images/Kimberley Cullen / FOAP

There are some pet cats that will revert their behavior and suddenly begin to ignore their litter boxes. There are a few explanations as to why your cat might be pooping in the bathtub, sink, or shower. It's a frustrating experience but can successfully be stopped. Feline potty behavior varies between cats, and problems may stem from health issues, environmental factors, or both. It's helpful to review emotional and physical health to help determine the problem and come up with solutions.

Why Do Cats Poop in the Bathtub or Sink?

Cats are generally very clean and neat animals. When they are purposely defecting in a known off-limits area, they are trying to tell you something. First, check the litter box to make sure it's not full, smells odd, or even tipped over. Anything off on the natural area may cause your cat to relieve itself somewhere else.

Cats that make a point of eliminating right in front of the owner-squatting in your presence to wet or poop may be crying out for help. Cystitis sometimes prompts cats to urinate in odd places and make a point of it by posturing in front of their human. Painful elimination due to constipation, for example, can prompt cats to avoid the litter box if they associate it with discomfort.

Some felines prefer to have separate facilities for solids and liquids. Even though there may be more than enough room in the single litter box, the cat may prefer to have a fresh box for potty deposits.

Cats can pick up on emotional changes and may sense and shift in the household. If there is a new baby or a family member's loss, this cannot be disregarded and may cause stress in the cat. Stress often affects the cat's emotional health. Even if the cat wasn't bonded to the lost family member in question, they'll feel and react to your mourning, as well as any change in routine.

With intact cats, pottying in the sink or tub can be a form of marking behavior, especially in a multiple cat household. Even some neutered cats use uncovered feces as a way to mark territoryFront declawed cats sometimes develop aversions to digging in the litter. Porcelain feels nice and cool against paw pads, compared to gritty litter. Also, the tub or sink cleaner may influence the preference. Cats often are attracted to the smell of bleach and like to eliminate on top of it. A shiny clean surface that hints at bleach may be very inviting.

Finally, there's a reason they call it copy-cat behavior. Do you ever allow your cat in the bathroom when you must use the facilities? Cats often follow owners to the bathroom. It's not beyond the realm of possibilities that your cat tries to emulate you.

How to Stop Your Cat Pooping in the Bathtub or Sink

There are a few simple measures you can take to help modify the cat's behavior. Try the techniques that seem to work best for your cat, lifestyle, and situation.

  • Add a second litter box, preferably in a different room so that your cat has an option for using a box for #1 and the other for #2.
  • Empty the litter box up to 2 or 3 times a day and clean it out once a week.
  • Consider placing the second box inside the empty bathtub. If the cat gets used to using it, then move it next to the tub for a few days, and then move it to the desired location.
  • Avoid covered litterboxes. They can encourage odor and may make your cat feel claustrophobic.
  • Fill the sink and tub with a small amount of water. This water may discourage your cat from entering the tub or sink and prevent the action from occurring.
  • Make sure the litter box is not near where the cat eats and drinks.
  • Use a larger sized litter box to encourage its use. Base the litter box size on the cat's size and not the location it fits in. The box should be about 1 1/2 times the size of your cat.
  • Try a new brand of litter. Some cats don't like the texture, smell, or other factors of certain types.
  • Avoid high-tech litter boxes. The lights and automatic actions can scare cats. Since they are scared, they will avoid using the litter box.
  • Don't let your cat enter the bathroom when you are using it. Though the copy-cat behavior is rare, it's not helpful for them to see you use the bathroom.

Next Steps

If these simple actions do not seem to change your cat's behavior, it's time to consult a vet to discover if there is an underlying medical issue. The vet will likely conduct a physical exam and may also use bloodwork to determine if there is an infection or digestive issue that could be causing this. Finally, a pet behaviorist that specializes in felines could be helpful. This person can help reteach your cat the appropriate behavior and may come up with some solutions that are specific to your cat and living situation.