Litter Box Problems
If you share your life with a cat, then you will probably experience litter box problems at some point.
So if you are looking for some answers to your cat’s sometimes mysterious litter box behavior, look no more.
Below you will learn about how to prevent litter box problems, about some common litter-box problems and how to solve them.
And remember, your cat has not stopped using the litter box just to spite you.
He or she might have a valid reason for not wanting to use the box.
My cats' litter box problems
Note: The information provided here is general in nature and it’s only for informational purposes. This site does not provide professional advice. If your cat is sick or has serious behavioral problems, consult a veterinarian or animal behaviorist immediately.
My sister and I had noticed that our cat Mia was having occasional litter box “accidents”. She would go into the litter box, urinate and then she would jump out of the box while still urinating. And then she would start running. Of course, the floor next to the litter box was left a smelly mess. These happened a few times. We were intrigued.
After much observation, we find out the reason behind such odd behavior: One of Mia’s legs is slightly disabled, so she has trouble controlling it inside the litter box. Because sometimes she loses her balance, urine usually gets into her hind legs. Apparently, this was causing her to jump out of the box. She didn’t want to get wet. Eventually she learned how to control her leg and the problem was solved.
Max, Mia’s brother, also had a litter box problem. He would soil the rug, the sofa, even our beds. At first we thought he was just being rebellious. Maybe he didn’t like the litter box. Maybe it was too dirty.
Again, after much observation we learned what was troubling Max. We realized that he was constipated. Frustrated after trying hard inside the litter box without results, he would leave the litter box and defecate in the rug or sofa. We figured that he was associating pain and frustration with the litter box. Once his constipation was treated, his litter-box problem was solved.
So before trying to solve a litter box problem you should first determine the cause of it. Sometimes the cause behind the problem is something simple, such as your cat’s dislike of the litter box location. Other times it might be something more complicated or serious, like a health condition or phobia. Here are some common litter box problems and their possible solutions.
How to prevent and solve
cat litter box problems
A dirty litter box is one of the commonest causes behind cat litter box problems. Cats are very clean animals, especially when it comes to their litter box. And they indeed may refuse to use a dirty litter box. Therefore, clean the litter box daily and replace the litter regularly.
It is also a good idea to wash the litter box on a regular basis, but avoid using strong cleaning liquids. Cats have a highly developed sense of smell and a strong smell might cause your cat to develop a cat litter box problem.
Problems with the litter box and the litter
Cats can be fastidious when it comes to their habits. They can be especially particular with their litter box habits. Most cats have very particular preferences when it comes to their litter box. And cats, like most of us, are not too fond of change. For example, some cats don’t like it when you suddenly change from one litter brand to another. They might even have very specific litter preferences. Most cats prefer soft, finely granulated litter.
Some cats might also dislike a litter box that has a thin layer of litter or vice versa. So the depth of the litter is another factor that may cause litter box problems. Cats also prefer unscented litter over scented litter. In addition, some cats don’t like the fill of plastic liners. Pay attention to your cat’s likes and dislikes and make the necessary changes, if necessary.
Cats might not appreciate litter box changes either. One of my brother’s cats refused to go into her new shiny litter box, soiling instead the bathroom floor. It turned out that the litter box came with a flap door, which she despised. My brother removed the little flap door and the problem was solved.
So if your cat refuses to use the litter box, see if there have been any changes that may have contributed to the problem. Maybe you suddenly switched to a different type of litter. Maybe you cleaned the litter box with a product that has too strong a smell. Remember that cats’ smell is much stronger than ours. And always be mindful of your cat’s preferences (i.e. litter texture and/or brand, type of litter box) before making any changes.
Covered... or not?
Another thing to consider is hooded versus un-hooded litter boxes. Most cats like privacy, so some cats really like the hooded boxes. Others, however, prefer uncovered litter pans. Also, cats need enough space to do their business in. So buy a litter box that is big enough for your cat to comfortably move inside it. Pay attention to what your cat likes and think carefully before switching from one type of litter box to the other. A sudden change may cause your kitty to stop using the litter box altogether.
Location, location, location
Where you place the litter box is another important element to consider. Placing it in the wrong location might cause your cat to stop using the litter box. The best place to put the litter box is a secluded yet easy-to-access spot. Never place the litter box in a hard-to-reach place as this may cause your cat to reject the litter box and soil other areas of the house. Also avoid putting the litter box next to your cat’s sleeping and eating areas, and/or near areas with heavy foot traffic.
Your cat may also reject the litter box due to fears and even phobias. For example, a cat might get scared if she hears a loud noise or sees an animal or something unusual. This is turn can cause her to lose control of her bowels and/or her bladder. Cats might even develop a phobia after a traumatic incident, thus altering their behavior. If you’ve ruled out other possible causes, such as the ones outlined here and your cat is not ill, then maybe she or he may have a behavioral problem.
It’s important to mention that, many times, the problem does not start as a behavioral problem, it usually starts as an aversion to the litter-box because of several reasons like the ones mentioned here, and then the cat gets used to going outside the box. So now you have to help your cat unlearn this behavior. I would recommend you consult a vet for additional information and possible treatments. A vet could also refer you to an animal behaviorist if needed.
Often times, cats with health conditions may have problems using the litter box. Common health problems include urinary tract infections and constipation, for example. Usually, cats can associate the litter box with pain and other aggravations and thus stop using it.
Again, to determine if your cat has a medical condition, consult your vet. As I previously mentioned, one of my cats was constipated and as a result he would defecate outside the litter box. Of course, each case is different so your cat might react differently.
Your male cat might also urinate outside the box to mark his territory. In fact, this is a fairly common situation among non-neutered cats.
In addition, cats sometimes don’t like sharing their litter boxes. So if you have several cats and just one litter box, and one or some of the cats are not using the litter box, try adding more litter boxes to the mix. It’s a good idea to have one litter box per cat. However, there are exceptions to the rule, of course, I have two cats and one litter box and they get along just fine.
For additional info on litter boxes please visit:
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