Changes in your cat’s litter box behavior can almost always be traced to a medical condition, stress, or something she dislikes about her litter box environment. If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, don’t fall for the fallacy that she is just being stubborn, or that she is “missing the box” out of spite. Fortunately, a little know-how and preventive maintenance can greatly reduce the chance of litter box problems.
Never punish or yell at your cat for not using her litter box; that only makes things worse.
Any acute or prolonged signs of litter box difficulties, such as urinating more frequently, avoiding the litter box, or straining, could indicate an urgent medical condition; call your vet right away.
The Perfect Litter Box Environment
Put the litter box in a pleasant location: easy to access, away from noisy or high-traffic areas, out of the dog’s and baby’s reach. Some cats, especially older or handicapped cats, prefer a litter box on each floor of the house. Beware of putting the litter box directly on soft carpet; for some cats, the adjacent carpet feels like litter. Use a minimum of one litter box per cat.
Litter. Every cat has a favorite litter – work with your cat to find out her preference. When in doubt, start with an unscented clumping litter. Although the jury’s still out on this, if you have a kitten, you may want to avoid clumping litters that contain sodium bentonite. Keep kitty’s box filled with about two inches of litter, unless directed otherwise by the package. When changing litters, do it gradually over several days, or fill a second box with the new litter.
Type of box. Some cats don’t care for covered litter boxes. If you use a covered box, remember to scoop and clean often, as odors can be trapped inside. Some cat owners like automatic-cleaning litter boxes, others don’t. As with litter, your cat will help guide you in your selection.
Clean! Scoop clumping litter at least once a day, other litters as directed. Wash the litter box and replace the litter weekly. Use a mild soap and rinse well. An occasional 1-part-in-10 bleach solution is fine if you rinse thoroughly. Stay away from ammonia and citrus-scented or strong-smelling cleaners.
Routine. Once you and kitty find a system that you’re both comfortable with, “stay the course.”
Clearly this is an Inappropriate Elimination issue.
Keep the box super clean!
Offer more than one box in different areas. Add a box in a different location so he has options or does not have to run to the other end of the house if he has to go.
Offer different “types” of litter pans and see if he has a preference to one. Open top, closed top, bigger pans.
Offer different pans with different litters and see if he chooses a favorite litter. Buy cheap large roasting pans to test the different litters in and test them all at the same time. 4 pans, 4 different litters all side by side.
Check his stools and make sure that they are not so dry as to hurt him while having a movement. If they are… add a good healthy wet canned food to his diet daily to soften the stools and encourage water consumption with a water fountain filled with distilled water.
Check and make sure that he is peeing ok for sure. Make sure he’s making a full pee and not just a dribble. He could be straining to pee, and if it hurts… he would associate that with the litter box and then jump out to poo. If this is the case… he needs a vet asap! He could have a UTI!
Other Factors Contributing to Inappropriate Elimination
• Medical Conditions: Cats avoiding the litter pan should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out a medical condition. Laboratory tests will need to be performed in most cases, however, if a condition does exist, immediate treatment will help resolve the behavioral problem. Possible medical conditions include: colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver disease, or feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Medical conditions such as arthritis, FLUTD, anal sac disease, and some forms of colitis, which cause pain urinating or defecating may also result in inappropriate elimination
• Stress: Cats of all ages experience stress at some point in their lives (just like us). Stress can be a major cause of inappropriate elimination, and known stressors such as moving, changes in routine, or changes within the family structure (new members added or family members leaving home) can result in inappropriate elimination. Reducing these stressors or decreasing their impact on the household will benefit your cat and you, too.
• Box Location & Contents: Some cats may not like where their box is located; too close to their food or water, in a high traffic area, or on a different level of the house than where they spend most of their time. Some cats are very particular and will not defecate in the same box in which they urinate or go into a box which has been used by another cat. Most cats do not like a dirty litter box. Clean out waste from their litter boxes at least once daily, and wash the litter boxes weekly so that they don’t decide to eliminate elsewhere in your home.
well, i have a friend who had this problem repeatedly with her two male cats. Sometimes, cats , like people, can’t always make it to the litter-box. Other times, its the litter-box itself. I’ve heard that sometimes, its because the box hasn’t been cleaned. Not sure if that’s the problem here, but give it a shot. Try a different kitty litter?
Did you change the type of litter? Or the place you keep the box?
Colin Tennant & Associates
The Canine & Feline Behaviour Centre
His litter box is not as clean as he wants it to be.
Perhaps, if you have another cat, he does not like sharing. He may have been spooked but you will have to retrain him. Also Google “llitterbox problems”