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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why Won’t My Cat Use Her Litterbox?

Your cat, for whatever reason, refuses to use the litterbox that you so lovingly prepared just for her. You spent half an hour in the store, perusing the different litters before finally picking what you thought was the perfect one. You also sacrificed a perfectly good spot in your garage, or maybe your bathroom, for the cat’s box.

Despite your best efforts, though, your cat refuses to go near the litterbox. She turns up her tiny, pink nose at the offensive thing, preferring instead to do her business on your floor or a pile of laundry.

Why, you wonder, is she being like this?

There are several common reasons for cats to do this. Whether your feline pal is a kitten or older cat, there’s probably a good explanation – and a fairly easy fix. Before you threaten to mail your cat to Abu Dhabi, try these solutions.

Make sure that your cat has easy access to the litterbox. Most cats like just a few inches of litter in the bottom. They also like having plenty of room to do their business, so make sure that the box is long and wide enough so that the kitty isn’t touching the sides.

Some cats like covered litterboxes, but others hate them. Try taking off the cover and putting it aside.

Try different types of litter. Some cats hate the finely-granulated stuff. Others loathe the clay version. You don’t necessarily have to spend lots of money on "premium" litter to find something that your cat will use, though: many brands are inexpensive but well-suited to your kitty’s tastes.

If you’ve had the litterbox for a while, it probably reeks of cat urine. Even if you’ve faithfully cleaned and disinfected the box, the plastic absorbs enough odors for your cat to detect. Try sprinkling baking soda in the bottom – before you add the litter – or just buy a new box.
Many people don’t know that you can actually clean the box too often. If you’re right there to scoop out any leavings half a nanosecond after kitty leaves her box, try waiting a while instead. Some cats respond better to their litterboxes when there’s a deposit or two left for a while.

You don’t, however, have to let things pile up for a week. Cleaning two or three times a day is usually enough to satisfy the kitty’s ability to tell that this is where she’s supposed to go. Cleaning this often is also enough to combat offensive odors.

Placement also matters. Many cats prefer a private area for this personal business. Keep the box out of high-traffic areas as well as places that are noisy, like the utility room on laundry day.
If you have several cats, you’ll need more than one litterbox. The maximum number is usually two or three cats per box. Otherwise, they can feel overcrowded.

Your kitten might not be completely litter-trained just yet. Be patient, clean up any messes as quickly as possible (to avoid letting the odors permeate – which can tell the kitten that the place on the floor is "the spot") and keep putting kitty in the box every now and then. She’ll soon pick up on the idea and run with it.

Older cats might not be as agile as when they were younger. They need a shallow box that’s as close to the floor as possible (i.e. not on top of the dryer).

Cats of all ages suddenly "forget" their litterbox training when they have a health problem. If your cat suddenly decides that she needs to relieve herself right in front of you, she’s probably trying to tell you that she has a urinary tract infection or some similar problem. Take her to the vet as soon as possible.

This is a frustrating time for you, but be patient and work with your cat. If all health problems are addressed and all space issues are solved, your kitty should soon be on her way to a long, happy life of faithfully using the litterbox, and only the litterbox, for her business.

Copyright © 2006, Ian White Access 2000 Pty Ltd

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Blogger islandhopper8 said...

Well I have that my cat from time to time want to pie somewhere on a strange place, on a piece of clothin that I just took out. I see him going to do his business and can put him outside. However I have had that I found that he did it in the dust bin. But normally he will do it in the litter box. I guess that I am at fault when he dont want to use his litter box, because I tend to forget to clean it from time to time...

10:43 PM  
Blogger ben said...

I have a female cat that someone dumped at my house and of course I didn't have the heart to take her to the shelter. Unfortunately, someone had her declawed, and I think this may be the root of her issue, which is she refuses to use the litter box. I showed her where it is, put her in it, but she still pees and poops on the carpet. I bought some puppy training pads, and she seems to like these, but doesn't always make her deposit squarely on the pad. I do have two other cats and she does not get along with either of them at all. How can I get her to do her business in the box and not on the floor?

4:03 PM  

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