Shy pet changes potty habits during sit?

So, it is my 5th day on my latest sit, and I have only been cleaning this cat’s urine from the litter box, but she has decided to, so far, poo in her owners’ tub and I have found her poo in the corner of a different room. This cat is shy and sensitive to changes to humans in the home, as the owners proactively told me. She does come out of hiding to occasionally eat and drink, explore a bit, and observe me from a distance.

I am relatively quiet here and only talk in a conversational tone at best, turn on the TV that the owners do themselves with normal volume, etc. I’ve mentioned the cat pooing in the owners’ tub and my cleaning it up to the owner already (read with no response… yet).

Anyway, has any sitter experienced these kind of changes and when and how does it go back to normal?

I have had issues with a cat urinating in other places. If you can find another litter tray it might be worth placing that in the room that she is pooing in. It’s possible that she doesn’t want to poo in a wet litter tray so needs a separate one. They also don’t like to poo near their food and drink.


Thanks for your reply. Well, there’s no indication from the owners that this has happened before me. The litter box always being there where it is and her pooing and peeing in it. Also, the cat has poo’ed in two separate rooms while I’ve been here (who knows where else) - bathtub of the owners’ and another room across the hall.

So I don’t know how having one litter box for peeing and another for pooing will be different? They only have one that they’ve shown me.

I want to know if such sensitive pets go back to normal as they eventually get used to the sitter?

How long is your sit @FreeSpiritManette?

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23 days total and today is my 5th day including the half day when I checked in and met with the owners and their cat

Cats are usually very sensitive to changes in their routine or their surroundings. They manifest their anxiety or displeasure in different ways. If the cat is used to just the one litter just try and remove deposits several times a day if that is the source of the problem. Also, if the cat is not used to you yet it may feel that pooping takes too long to be done in a place where it doesn’t feel safe from a stranger so it chooses a place where it feels safer. If the litter box is in a place that is too visible you could try making it a bit more private. I wish I could say that it’s going to be ok very soon but cats are very intriguing and each has its own character and coping mechanisms. Over the many years and cats we have adopted we have seen that sometimes even subtle changes can affect them in surprising ways; sometimes big changes didn’t affect them (for example a new house or new cat companion) but switching the order of two bowls of food and they stop eating for a while. Since we have moved to our new apartment our current cat has started peeing too close to the edge of the litter box (which is the same one she has had all her life). Once in a while there is spillover which has forced us to buy extra large dog pee pads that we put underneath the litter box. Go figure. :slightly_smiling_face:


Thank you so much, gchampagne, for your insight and advice. The litter box is in the bathroom on the second floor on the far end of it where the kitchen and living room are. There are 3 floors in this home and she stays mostly in her owners’ bedroom and other rooms on the 3rd floor to sort of hide away. Perhaps, I will temporarily move the litter box to her owners’ bathroom or in another room on the third floor to be closest to her for her privacy.

EDIT: I fear the changes here would trigger another issue in the cat’s routine after the owners get back.
I will try cleaning the box multiple times daily and getting her more used to my scent first.

Or find something that can act as a second litter box to put up there. I will ask for the owners’ permission.

We have also had 2 sits with super skittish kitties. It took a few days until they weren’t scared out of their wits (and we are also super quiet people, not even watching TV ever). I usually like to put pieces of clothing that I have worn in places where the kitty might go and I don’t try to stroke them, instead I give them my hand to smell (or an object like sunglasses if they are super skittish). You can also try treats + playing, but that might not work initially. PS: It might also be helpful to watch Jackson Galaxy on this, but often his method involves changing the flat (e.g. skittish cats can become much more confident if they have a place where they can be higher than you).


Just make sure the cat knows a change has been made. Whenever we move I get our cats and physically put them in the litter box a few times on their first day in the new surroundings. I don’t know how difficult it would be with a cat that’s hiding a lot but it is necessary that it knows where the litter box is and not hope it finds the box on its own because that could be opening another can of worms. :slightly_smiling_face:


Omg UPDATE: Happy, happy! She finally pooped in her litter box and I didn’t move it at all!

Okay, so I took a combo of pieces of all of your advices!!

*I cleaned out her urine clumps from the litter box much earlier than usual.
*I put my coat that I wear a lot upstairs in/near the room she frequents.

Those were the only changes I made. However, she still didn’t cover her poop at all, so it smelled (that’s how I found out). Don’t know what this means that she won’t cover her poop with litter, but hopefully that changes real soon.

Thanks much, you all. I will update if anything more changes.


Please also note that I cannot pick up this cat to put her in a litter box. I’ve only been as close as an arm’s length at best before she gets real uncomfortable.

So, I intend to continue to put a few of my used clothes on the 3rd level.
And clean out her urine clumps earlier for now. And hopefully the cleaning can be less frequent to once or twice a day.

Hi @FreeSpiritManette,

Glad there was some recent progress.

Can you acquire any treats to help you bond with the cat? Maybe Temptations, or especially Churu?

I know cats are very sensitive to smell, and they rub on things to transfer their smell. So I was thinking if you could actually reduce foreign smells (e.g., perfumes/sprays) then maybe that would help?

If you have Netflix, check out the doc “Inside the Mind of a Cat.” I recall that being very informative.


Update: So, the cat and I have bonded quite a bit! She comes to me on her own and rubs affectionately against me with head bumps, and I’ve managed to pet her several times a day since my 11th day here!

She has been covering her poop and urine with litter since last night and has consistently been using the litter box since I started this topic!

Many thanks, everyone!


Great news for kitty and for you @FreeSpiritManette thank you for the update … all’s well that ends well.

Enjoy the rest of your time with your new best furry friend.

Happy New Year :cat: :heart_eyes_cat: :clap: