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However many years your cat has successfully been using his litter box for, there may come a time when he starts to experience problems. Inappropriate elimination and litter box problems are common in cats, but luckily it’s usually easy to pinpoint the cause and deal with it accordingly.
Litter Box Problems – Health Issues
If your cat has cystitis, or another urinary tract infection, he can start to associate the pain he feels when urinating with the litter box itself, so he’ll start to go in areas outside the litter box. This is a common cause of litter box problems, so if you notice him straining to go without producing much, or you see blood in his urine (wherever he’s going), then it’s probably a urinary tract problem. These can be very serious for cats, so you should take him to the vet as soon as you suspect that’s what it is.
Excessive thirst caused by a number of conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, will lead to your cat drinking more than usual and possibly not getting to the box in time. Similarly, more elderly cats might start to suffer from incontinence, and cats with stomach problems and diarrhoea often can’t get to the box in time. If you know that this is what’s causing your cat’s litter box problems, increase the number of litter trays you have available and make sure they’re in easy to reach locations.
Other health issues that might cause your cat to avoid the litter box include arthritis making it uncomfortable for him to step in and out if the sides of the box are too high, and the type of litter you use making an injured and sensitive foot more painful.
Litter Box Problems – Psychological or Comfort Issues
Once you’ve ruled out any health issues with a visit to your vet, you can start to look at other possible causes.
Have you changed the litter, the type of litter box or the location of the box? The stress of the change could have made your cat not want to use the litter box, so try changing back to what he’s familiar with.
What type of litter are you using? There are so many different types available, and just because one suits you, for example clumping or scented, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be pleasant or suitable for your cat. Try experimenting with different types of litter until you find one that he’s happy to use.
Other causes for litter box problems could be a box that’s too small, not cleaned out regularly enough or in a location that’s not private enough. If you have more than one cat, the general rule is one box per cat plus one, so if you have three cats you’ll need four litter boxes.
Never get angry and shout and never ever rub your cat’s nose in his elimination – don’t forget that your cat’s not toileting outside the litter box on purpose, or to be naughty there’ll be a reason behind this change in behaviour, your job is to figure out what that is. For more tips on litter box training your cat or kittens, check out our article on How to Litter Train Your Cat.
Has your cat had issues with not using the litter box? What was the cause and what did you do to encourage them use the litter box again? Please share in the comments below.
Image: abbamouse via Flickr
Great info, I have one cat and she has two litter boxes ,
Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie says
We have a kitty with an attitude problem. He uses the litter box when he feels like it and then occasionally just doesn’t. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the state of the box or the location, he’s just sometimes rude.
GLOGIRLY CATS says
Wonderful info! It’s such an important topic and like the Swiss Cats said, is a big contributing factor to cats being surrendered to shelters. We’re both very good at using our boxes… but we also know that can change with health or behavior problems. We keep ours very clean and we have three of them. We have our favorite litter, but we also try out new kinds sometimes.
: ) Katie & Waffles
Ellen Pilch says
I have one out of the box tinkler- she will use a puppy pad right near it though.
The Swiss Cats says
Great info ! Litter box issues are sometimes misunderstood by some humans, and can lead some cats to a shelter… Purrs
Rosa @ Cat Lady Confidential says
Fortunately my cat never had any litter box issues. I always change the litter regularly to prevent any incidents. Great tips!
The Island Cats says
Good info! Fortunately, we’re all pretty good about using our litterboxes.