There is one thought that brings fear to all cat owners and potential cat owners: cats not using the litter box. There could be good reason as to why they have chosen to stop doing their business in their box – many of the reasons can be alarming!
Cats Health Issues:
There are many reasons why a cat is not using the litter box. The first thing to figure out is if there are any health concerns – for example, if your cat has a UTI (urinary tract infection), s/he may associate the litterbox with the pain of the UTI and stop using it. So it is most important to get your cat cleared from the vet before you seek additional solutions.
Not a Cat Health Issue Causing It?
Once you have found out that it’s not a medical reason for the litter box avoidance the next step is to look at the emotional issues surrounding the litter box. Cats prefer to have their litter boxes out of the way.
Thinking like a cat would is your best bet – is your box in a noisy or busy location? Look for a quite location where they will not be disturbed or cornered. Your cat may not want to use the litter box because s/he could feel trapped. Can your dog or small child sneak up on him when he is using the facilities making it harder for them to get away? Look for an out of the way place where the door is visible to set the litter box.
Talk with your children about not interrupting your cat when he is using the bathroom. It could be the location of the litter box, the type the litter box or the type of litter being used. Each situation can be quite different. It can also vary based on whether they are not using the box at all – or if your cat is not using the litter box to poop or if your cat is not using litter box to urinate.
There is a lot of troubleshooting that goes on depending on which one it is, so we have specific pages on the site dedicated to each problem:
Cat Litter Box Essentials: Learn the Perfect Litter Box Set-Up
In general, if it’s not a cat health issue that is causing your cat not to use the litter box all of the sudden, then you want to focus on making the litter box desirable for your cat to use. Lisa Pierson, DVM has an incredible informational website for cat owners and her page on Litter Boxes will help you understand the ideal litterbox setup for a kitty. The best litter box is one that your cat will use.
Some cats don’t like covered boxes while other want nothing but. Those high sided litter boxes are great for cats that kick litter but might not be so wonderful for your older cat that is suffering from arthritis. When you are cleaning out the litter box make sure to only use soap and water. Cleaners like Lysol and Pine sol may be offensive to your cat. If you have had your litter box for a while it might be time to get a new one. Odors can sometimes sink into plastic over time. Try different litters.
Some cats can’t stand dusty litters while others refuse to use pellets or sand litter. If you are not sure what kind of litter your cat prefers get a clean, dust free, perfume free clay, litter. If they are not happy with that try a clean, pellet newspaper bedding like Yesterday’s News. Now that you got the litter box set up and ready to go, make sure to clean up the spots where he has gone to the bathroom using a cleaner like, Nature’s Miracle or Unique.
If they have been using potted plants make sure to change out the soil. If a good cleaning doesn’t work you can put a plastic chair pad or a piece of aluminum foil on the area where they have been eliminating. Should that not deter them look into a scat mat or just turn the chair pad over to expose the pointed side.
If you are having problems with your cat peeing on your bed or couch try to make the couch or bed the play or cuddle area. That will dissuade them from using it as a toilet. Answering the, “Why does my cat pee there?” question is never and easy one. With a little hard work and dedication from you it should be one that you are able to solve. Have you discovered a great solution to cats not using the litter box? What is it?