When Your Cat Won't Use the Litter Box | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

When Your Cat Won’t Use the Litter Box

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

As a cat-owner, it’s only a matter of time before you discover that your precious pet has left you an unpleasant surprise somewhere on the floor, usually not too far from his litter box.

Most of the time (we think), cats don’t do this maliciously. If your cat is leaving you surprises that don’t seem like accidents, you should have the cat checked by your vet to eliminate the possibility of a medical condition. Sometimes an illness will cause a cat to urinate or defecate outside his litter box.

If nothing is wrong medically, think about what the cat might be unhappy about, such as his cat litter or box location. Try switching litter brands or moving the box to a new location. Also check to make sure the litter is cleaned often enough. Sometimes cats will balk at using a litter box that is too dirty. And every cat is different. Some cats will use the box even if it’s slightly dirty and others will turn away unless it’s cleaned daily.

If your box has a cover, try taking it off. Some cats don’t like to feel too enclosed when going to the bathroom. Other cats like the privacy of a cover. Or maybe the box is too small in the first place. Replace it with a bigger box and see if it makes a difference.

Sometimes emotional stress can cause a cat to stop using the litter box. Try to pinpoint what might be stressing your cat and eliminate the cause if you can. Cats like routine. They can get stressed if you just move their litter box, so you can imagine that they might get pretty upset if you move to another house, add a new pet or person to the household, or even if you’re under some stress yourself.

If your cat is using other parts of your home as a toilet, he will most likely re-use spots. You can help stop that cycle by making the cat’s favorite spots undesirable. The scent left by the cat will draw it back to the same place over and over, so make sure to clean the area thoroughly and use a good enzymatic cleanser made to eliminate pet odors.

You can try different deterrents like placing aluminum foil or wax paper where the cat went (they don’t like the feel of it under their paws). Cats don’t like the smell of citrus, so you might want to place citrus-scented items in the area. You may try double-sided tape, and there are several alarm deterrents, citronella deterrents, and other products that you can try.

As unpleasant as it may be to have our cats eliminate outside of the litter box, remember that punishing your cat by yelling, hitting, making loud noises, or squirting him with water won’t solve the bad bathroom habits. There is sure to be a reason behind your cat’s behavior and it’s up to you to figure out what is wrong and fix the problem.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

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