Most cats are happy to use the litter box because their natural instinct is to bury their waste. However, there are plenty of other places in the house where your cat can dig, such as in a laundry basket, on the bed or in a pile of blankets on the floor. Remember, if your cat shows preference toward one of these areas, it doesn’t mean he’s upset at you or trying to get revenge. Uncover the real reason why your cat isn’t using the litter box so you can take steps to solve the problem.
- Urinary tract infection: This is the most common medical issue that could make your kitty stop using the litter box. This infection makes urination painful, and since the litter box is where this pain occurs, your cat might start going elsewhere. If you ever notice him crying out in pain while urinating, take him to the vet immediately for a diagnosis and treatment.
- Liver, kidney or thyroid problem: These medical conditions cause your kitty to urinate more frequently, and sometimes he might not make it to the litter box in time.
- Inability to reach the litter box: Stairs can be a challenge for cats as they become old or sick, making a litter box in the basement inconveniently placed and hard to get to.
- Picky preferences: Some cats are flexible when it comes to litter box size, style, location and litter consistency. Others are very picky and won’t go in the litter box unless it fits their demanding standards. If you suddenly change the style or location of the litter box or type of litter, a picky feline may start eliminating elsewhere.
- Dirty litter box: Cats are clean animals and many refuse to go in the litter box if you don’t clean it often enough. Every other day may not even be frequent enough for an especially clean cat.
- Not enough litter boxes: If you get a second cat, the resident feline may refuse to use the same litter box as the newcomer. Adding another cat to your home demands adding a second or even a third litter box to accommodate both kitties’ needs.
- The environment or routine has changed: Sometimes getting a second animal can be stressful enough that the resident cat goes outside the litter box in an effort to mark his territory and assert dominance.
- Something negative happened in the litter box: Your kitty may have been startled or ambushed by another pet while using the litter box. Perhaps you scolded your cat for eliminating outside the litter box and placed him in it immediately after to encourage him to go there. In this way, you inadvertently associated the litter box with punishment, making him less inclined to use it in the future.
- The original reason is gone, but the problem continues: Perhaps your kitty stopped using the litter box because of a urinary tract infection. The condition has cleared up, but now he prefers the rug in the bedroom. To fix this problem, eliminate all possible digging surfaces from the floor and keep strategic doors closed. Use pet stain and odor remover to wipe out the scent. Cover the area with a piece of furniture so he can’t urinate there anymore.
With these possible causes and solutions in mind, hopefully you can get your cat to start using the litter box again. If you need more tips for your personal situation, or if you think you cat has an underlying medical problem, please contact Germantown Vet Clinic online or call us at 240-252-7467 to set an appointment today.