Is your cat not using his litter box anymore? We know it’s one of the unpleasant and top reported cat behavior problem.
Good news is, we can help you fix it. In this article, we are going to introduce you with a list of reasons why your cat might be avoiding his litter box. Why? Because, if you know the cause, applying measure to solve your kitties litter box issues becomes a lot more easier.
- Health problems. Even, if medical problems are not the top reason for cats not using the litter box, it must be mentioned first. There are over the roof many health conditions that may cause litter box avoidance in cats. If you are not aware of those, your efforts, first, will give no effect, and second, may cause more damage and stress to your pet. Read more about litter box related health issues here.
- Untidy litter box. This is the number one reason for cats not using the litter box. Many owners (including us) often forget to clean the box. Cats don’t like the smell of urine and feces, and even if you think the litter box smells fine, it does not mean your cat agrees with you, as he has way stronger sense of smell than you do. Scoop your box at least daily (it’s not that hard, really. Click here to find out why), and dump it completely once in a week, and you may notice extremely rapid changes in the behavior of your cat. More info about cat litter box cleaning frequency here.
- Cat is not trained to use a litter box. Although using a litter box is an easy task to teach, sometimes things do not go so well. Training might be a bit harder for older cats. Besides that, it’s not rare when a cat must be retrained once in a while, throughout his life. Read how to train your cat to use his litter box here.
- Wrong litter type. It’s not like there is one best litter that all cats love. They all have their own preferences. Most cats like clumping or non clumping clay litter. And most popular litter types that cats avoid are the pine cat litter and any scented litter no matter of the type. If you recently changed a litter type or brand, try switching back.
- Stress. Is your cat stressed out? It might result in a cat not using its litter box. Most common causes for stress in cats are environment changes (moving to a new house, new bed for a pet, new pet, a piece of furniture, reallocation of the litter box etc.), change of routine (time of feeding, playing, going outdoors) and untidy litter box (see above for reason #2). Also, cat may encounter stress associated with the litter box, itself. Is it located too close to a frightening washing machine?
- Wrong location of the litter box. There are several things to note, when choosing the location of the box. It must be accessible. Close to place where the cat is spending most of his time. If you did not do any modifications to the location of the litter box, but suddenly cat is not using it anymore, it still may be the reason. As cat ages, he may find it hard to go to the distant box in the basement, or jump over the baby gate on the way, even if he had no problems with it a t younger age. Also, don’t place the litter box too close to the food or water. In nature, cats do not eliminate near their hunting grounds, to disclose their presence to the prey. In household, cat has no choice where to eat, so he may just choose a different spot for elimination. You can read more about best cat litter box locations here.
- There are not enough litter boxes in your house. Most feline behaviorists recommend at least one box for each cat in the house, plus one additional box, as minimum. So it’s three boxes for two cats and eleven boxes for ten cats. Besides that, they must be placed in different locations throughout the house. Even one cat may prefer if there’s a one box in a room where he sleeps, and the other in the room where he watches bird feeder through the window. Try adding different types of litter in separate boxes and see which is preferred the most by your cats.
- Your cat is a creature sent from hell, to put you through a misery. If we ask cat owners, this is the most mentioned reason why they think their cat is not using the litter box. However, there is not a bit of truth. Cats are very friendly beings and do not perform bad stuff on purpose. You better check the above. The reason for cat not using its litter box must be mentioned there. If you think it’s not, try consulting a vet, or feline behaviorist.
Now, that you are on the path of finding the correct reason why your cat is not using his litter box anymore, you are one step closet to ending his habits. The next part is to work in order to eliminate those things that are bothering your cat. Our article series about cat litter and litter box issues might be good help for you in this task.
Photos by: unknown author, Deb Collins.