When your cat decides to stop using the litter box, it’s not only irritating and frustrating but also alarming. You need to find out why in order to be able to help him and avoid the mess. Cats don’t do that out of viciousness or evil – in most cases, there is something bothering them that you don’t see. Finding a cause and a solution can be a life-saver for both of you. The question is – how? Generally, it’s a trial and error process until you find the right way. So what are some common reasons why a cat won’t use the litter box?
1. Medical issues
The first thing you should do when you notice a problem is to take your cat to the vet. Very often they start peeing and pooping outside the box because they feel pain while doing it and they wrongly associate it with the box. That’s why they might decide to try different locations – to get rid of the pain or another uncomfortable feeling. There may be many causes, e.g. a cat can be constipated or has a urinary tract infection.
Sometimes the issue may not be directly connected to peeing or pooping but a general worse well-being will prompt a cat to some bizarre behaviour as well. For example, there are cases when cats are so miserable with fleas that they start peeing everywhere. Also, when your cat is getting older, he may have problems just like an elderly human. It’s possible for a cat to suffer from arthritis – if that’s the case, it will be painful for him to jump in and out of the box, as well as crouching inside it.
If your cat has long hair, make sure that the fur around his bottom is well-trimmed and always clean. Cats don’t like walking around with poop remnants sticking to their hair and they may eventually think that it’s because of the litter box. You should also be reasonable when it comes to the amounts of litter in the box – a lot of cats don’t fancy dragging their shiny hair in the litter while squatting.
Getting the first kitty is always a lot of fuss – then it gets easier and there are cases where people get carried away. There’s nothing wrong about it as long as you stay reasonable; too many cats can pose a problem, as they’re very territorial by nature. They like spending time with each other but they need a space they can call their own; otherwise, they can get unsettled and stressed. Very often, the rivalry takes place around the litter box – a dominant cat will always leave their poo uncovered to leave the scent marking; then, other cats may feel unsure about using the same box. Plus, they will mark their territory by peeing all over the place. So if you have more than one cat, you should get a box for each – and make sure you place them in a different place to provide them with some privacy.
The most important, though, is to give enough love and attention to everyone.
4. Litter box issues
There are many things that can bother your cat if you choose the wrong litter box. For example, they can avoid it simply because you decided on the plastic liner for the inside and they don’t like it or, in the case of the long-haired, they get zapped a little every time they go inside. Plus, plastic sheets easily get damaged and they can smell really bad after some time.
There are those who love hooded boxes but the majority feels trapped inside them. In some cases, though, all you can do is guess – sometimes a cat may not like the shape or the size of the box and there’s nothing to do about it other than changing the box.
If your cat is more spraying than peeing all over the house, it may mean that he’s marking his territory for some reason. It often happens when you introduce a new pet to your household but if you did no such thing, you can look outside for possible causes – other cats. You may not even know that you have a squatter in your garden but your cat can already feel threatened. If you think that it may be the reason, try closing the blinds or doing anything to block your cat’s view from the window, or chasing away the intruder.
Considering that cats are very fond of their privacy, it’s clear that the location of their toilet is vital. For example, they don’t like to eat and defecate in the same area so placing the box too close to their food is a bad idea. The other issue may be distance; of course, other people may understand that you don’t want to have it on your daily routes but you can’t just put it in the basement. The cat will simply think that it’s too much trouble and will look for other locations. The box has to be set in a quiet, private place – no disturbing noises, no coming and going all the time.
Do you think you found your answer? If not, don’t be scared! There may be other, natural reasons why your cat avoids the litter box. Just remember – start by visiting your vet.