What Causes Litterbox Problems?
Cats will sometimes stop using the litterbox for a variety of reasons:
- He may not like the litter itself
- He may not like where the litterbox is placed
- The litter isn’t clean
- Litterboxes should be scooped at least once a day
- Medical conditions
- Was he recently declawed?
- His toes might be too sore to scratch the litter
- Try a different/softer litter
- For questions about the declawing and its consequences, click here.
- Your cat may be too big to comfortably use a litterbox
What to do About Litterbox Problems
First thing you should do is take him to the vet, to rule out any medical conditions. If there is a medical problem, it can usually be fixed quickly and inexpensively. If your cat has not been spayed or neutered, they have been known to stop using the litterbox, so this may be an option. For questions about spaying or neutering your cat, click here.
Your cat hasn’t stopped stopped using the litterbox to annoy you, so don’t punish him. He’s trying to tell you something! It’s up to you to figure out exactly what that is.
Cats are creatures of habit, so if you try to move the litterbox, don’t just move it all of a sudden. Do it gradually, maybe five feet a time.
If you think the cat may be too big to use the litterbox, try using one of those storage containers that go under the bed. But don’t put it under the bed!!! Also, since cats like their privacy, make sure the box is put in an area where he can’t be readily seen when using the box. Don’t put the litterbox in a corner, or in a tight space. He could feel threatened, because he can’t easily escape.
What to Do About the Cat That Just Refuses to Use the Litterbox
Try adding additional litterboxes, and putting them where the cat seems to prefer ‘going’. Make sure you clean the areas where he’s been eliminating. For best results, used a cleaner that contains enzymes to eliminate the smell completely. You could also try using a mixture of vinegar and water.
Cats don’t like to ‘go’ near food, so you might try placing a bowl of his treats on the cleaned floor where he’s been going. You can try making his preferred areas undesirable. Place aluminum foil or plastic wrap on the floor. For large areas, a plastic carpet runner with the teeth side up is a very good deterrent.
If All Else Fails…
Talk to your vet. There are behavior-modification medications available that can help in deterring this very unwanted behavior. But just like with children, you don’t want to just give your pet pills to fix everything that pops up. So try the above recommendations before opting for medications. And be patient. Your cat really does love you!
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