Litterboxes and cats go together hand in hand and can cause a cat owner some problems.
The majority of times our feline friends cause us little to worry about as long as we keep their “bathroom facilities” clean.
But, once in awhile, for no reason at all (as we see it) our furry friend either stops using the litter box or decides to start eliminating outside the box.
Inappropriate elimination is the cause for many cats to find themselves living in a shelter, when with a little effort on the part of their owners, the problem could have been solved.
What causes a cat to stop using the litter box?
There are several reasons; the main one being the cat owner has not taken the time to keep the litter box clean.
In the life of a cat, “cleanliness” is of the up-most importance when it comes to their boxes.
Think about it.
Haven’t you ever left a dirty restroom in disgust and not used it, no matter how badly you needed to?
The first thing to take under consideration, if your cat starts having accidents is medical problems.
A urinary tract infection in many cases is the primary cause for litter box failures.
A urinary tract infection hurts when the cat tries to urinate and thus the cat associates the box with pain.
A quick trip to the vet and some patience on your part can easily solve the problem.
Location is another point to consider. Have you moved the location of the litter box to a different spot?
Cats are not only finicky eaters; they are finicky about the location of their bathrooms.
Rule number one, do not put the litter box near the area where the cat eats and drinks. Cats want distance between eating and their bathrooms.
Cats need to feel safe using their boxes.
Have you moved it to an area where there is noise that could startle the cat? A sudden rumble of the washer in the laundry room could scare the cat, so that it would not use the box in there again.
In the cellar is it possible that the furnace, now that winter has arrived, makes an unusual noise as it turns off and on?
Cats need a quiet, private and safe place to eliminate.
It is important to consider the “escape” factor.
Is the box placed in an area that prohibits giving the cat an alternate route to exit?
If the box is in a closed in area with only one route out, this can put fear into the heart of the cat, especially if you have a multi-cat family or a dog.
Cats do not like to be surprised and like to feel free to run if necessary.
Did you buy a new litter box that has a cover over it?
Some cats do not like the “closed in feeling” and will not use the box.
Changes in the kind of litter you are using can create a problem.
If that seems to be the situation, try several other types of litter, until you find one that suits Miss/Mr. Kitty.
If you have a multi-cat family, is there a “bully” in the house?
A sudden misunderstanding between two cats can create a litter box problem, especially if one of the cats is more dominant then the other.
In multi-cat families it is best that you have a litter box for each cat in different areas plus an extra one. This will prevent one cat from claiming ownership of all the boxes.
Are you still using the same litter box that you had when your cat was a kitten?
Chances are your cat has outgrown it and may be hanging over the end, thus causing problems outside the box.
Have there been any sudden changes in the usual routine of the household?
Has someone new moved in?
Has the baby started walking?
Cats thrive on routine and any sudden changes can create an upheaval in their understanding of what is going on.
Cats do not do things to “get even” or because they are mad at you.
Something has triggered a change in behavior and with a little effort it can be corrected.
Talk to your vet, discuss the problem and listen to his/her advice.
Do not give up on your cat, as there is a solution.
A clean litter box is very important, do not use any ammonia types products to clean the box as cats do not like the smell.
If you are using a clumping litter, when cleaning the box keep the clumps whole, do not break them up as that creates more odor in the box.
Did you reprimand the cat and scared it when it was in the box?
Your cat can associate scolding and the box with unpleasant “noise” and decide not to use it.
Cats are really sensitive critters and if you are having a problem, talk to your vet, have patience, try several new methods, but whatever you do do not give up on the cat until you have tried several things.
If cat litter on the floor has you annoyed and you are tired of cleaning it up as it scatters everywhere.
Try using a piece of commercial grade carpet (no pile) under the box or take a large bath mat and turn it latex side up and put the box on it.
This will stop some of the litter from scattering all over the floor and make clean up easier.
Do not use the plush side of any carpet as that can attract a cat to using it instead of the box.
If your cat has suddenly started to have accidents, a trip to the vet is the first step and then think, very hard, about the changes that may be going on in the household, be patient and loving and don’t give up.
Have a Great Summer!