Litter box issues is a common problem pet owners face with their indoor cats. It is frustrating for pet owners when their cat stops using the litter box and prefers to relief somewhere undesirable (like your chair). Once a cat chooses their location training them out of it takes a lot of time, leaving unwanted messes throughout the house.
The reason your cat doesn’t want to use their litter box could be one of the following:
- You are not cleaning their litter box enough (cats are very hygienic and go where it is cleaner);
- There are multiple cats in the home and not a litter box for each cat (cat’s are territorial);
- Your cat is uncomfortable with the size or opening of the litter box or its location in the home;
- You constantly rearrange the placement of the litter box(es) in the home;
- There is too much or too little litter in the box (about 2 inches is enough for them to relief and dig)
- Your cat dislikes the smell or texture of the litter;
- Some trauma had occurred around the litter box ritual that makes your cat associate their litter box with pain or discomfort;
- There is an underlying medical issue your cat is having during elimination.
Cats, like dogs, prefer to find that certain spot to use. It is important that you try to use a litter box and litter they prefer to make sure they are not being enticed by your laundry or bedding instead. Their paws are extremely sensitive so little pebbles in their toes might deter them from wanting to use their litter box. Shop around for a couple brands to find a litter your cat does not mind using.
If your cat lives with other animals they might develop litter box issues for several reasons. There should be a litter box for every cat in the home. Cats are territorial and prefer their own spot when using the litter box. In some cases when you bring in a new cat the older one will become jealous and block the new cat from using a litter box. Cats prefer having privacy while using the litter box. If you have a dog or kids in your home who like to bother your cat while they are in the litter box your cat will become uncomfortable with that area. Having a litter box with a cover will not make it better if your dog is sticking their head inside to find the cat. Put the litter box where your cat will find it but is away from prying eyes.
Cats with a poor diet or are older develop litter box issues when using the bathroom. Every time they use the litter box they may feel pain, feel burning, or pass blood. Your cat will begin to associate the litter box as a place of pain. As you clean their litter box look for abnormalities. Consult your veterinarian if you believe your cat is having a medical issue.
How to prevent litter box issues:
The best plan of action to stop litter box issues is to fix it before it happens. Clean the litter box once a day and scrub it down with baking soda once a week. Some cats don’t like cat liners or litter box covers so know what makes your cat feel comfortable. Use an unscented clumping litter and do not put more than 2 inches of litter in the box.
It is important to watch how your cat uses her litter box. If she seems to avoid it try buying a couple more litter boxes and filling each one with a different litter. See if your cat will take to a particular one. Sometimes cats develop a liking for a certain area or texture in the house to relieve themselves. If so, make that spot unappealing by having a motion sensitive light, double sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, or sand paper. This will train them to avoid that area.
These tips are excellent for understanding your cat’s litter box issues and learning to communicate with your pet. However, some cats have a deeper behavioral issue with their litter box. Cats that are use to the outdoors or have had some trauma take time and require a lot of observation to find the best way to train them. In certain cases a pet owner may feel it is time to call an Animal Behaviorist to help them understand their cat’s litter box issues. If you feel this is necessary, it is wise to find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (ACVB) to assist you with your cat’s litter box issues.