SpringCatHaving a cat that isn’t using the litter box can be a big problem. Sadly, cats going about their business outside of the litter box is the number one reason cats are abandoned at shelters.

But litter box issues don’t have to spell the end for an otherwise wonderful cat. This change in your cat’s behavior is likely his or her way of telling you that something is wrong, and usually that something can be fixed. Afterall, it is a cat’s natural desire to dig and bury their waste, which means that most cats come litter trained by Mother Nature’s design. It’s just up to you to redirect their behavior.

When a cat suddenly stops using the litter box it is usually a sign that something in their litter box or litter box environment has changed. And, since cats are notorious creatures of habit, this change is likely what is causing your cat to seek out other places to eliminate.

Litter Box Tips

  • Where is your cat’s litter box located? Cats prefer a litter box that is in a semi-isolated location, free from household traffic and loud disturbances. Make sure that it is not so isolated that you forget to clean it, but do try to provide some privacy.

  • Choose the right litter box. While most humans prefer a covered box, most cats do not. Covered boxes trap odor inside the box, and also only allow for one escape route. Choose an open box that is big enough for your cat to move around in comfortably. If your cat throws litter out of the box, look for one with high sides, or a lip around the edge to help keep litter in. If the sight of  the box offends you, consider placing a privacy screen around the box, but always try to have to escape routes so that your cat doesn’t feel cornered or trapped.

  • Don’t skimp on the litter. Some felines are happy to use any type of litter you provide, and others will be picky. Avoid scented, clay or pelletized litters. Most experts agree an unscented, scoopable litter is the best bet. Make sure that at least two inches of litter is in the box at all times, and refill it generously after you scoop.

  • Add a cat, add a box. Don’t you hate going into a public restroom after someone who has bad bathroom manners? Cats are just as picky, if not more so, than us humans. If you adopt a new furbaby, add a litter box. Having one litter box per cat, plus one extra, will help ensure that you don’t have litter box drama in a multiple cat household.

    What to Do if Your Cat Stops Using the Litter Box

    If your feline friend suddenly stops using the litter box, and you can’t see any environmental reasons, such as changing litter or adding a cat to your family, it’s best to call us for an appointment.

    Medical conditions, especially those involving the kidney, liver, bowels, thyroid and urinary tract can all cause pain or other discomfort when your kitty uses the litter box. Your veterinarian can do a urinalysis, fecal check and blood work to rule out any serious health problems.