Common Reasons Why Cats Stop Using The Litter Box
As a cat owner, you know how important it is to make sure that your cat is cared for. This includes everything from making sure that their claws are trimmed making sure that they are eating the right type of food and enriching their environment with toys and places to play and sleep. Having a litter box or two is also key if you have a cat that stays indoors. If you notice that your cat is not using the litter box regularly, it is important that you determine why. There are a number of potential reasons why you may notice that your cat has stopped using the litter box.
Here are a few of the most common explanations for why your cat has stopped using the litter box:
They Are Stressed & Anxious
Cats are very sensitive to the world around them and love their everyday comforts and routine.
If something in their environment or routine has changed, it could be acting as a stressor and the reason why your cat has stopped using their litter box all of a sudden.
Possible causes of stress could be:
- Moving house
Make Sure You Have Enough Litter Boxes
Cats are finicky and they like their own space. If you have several cats in your household, it might be necessary to have a litter box for each cat kept in different locations. Its also a good idea to have one more litter box than the number of cats in the household. So, if you have two cats, make sure to have three litter boxes. Some cats may not prefer covered litter boxes, so its best to have at least one covered option and one uncovered option.
Also remember, cats dont like to urinate or defecate near where they eat or drink water, in areas of heavy traffic or near noisy appliances like washing machines or water heaters.
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Reasons Your Cat Stopped Using The Litter Box
Cats are famously known as clean animals, discreetly depositing and burying their waste in a secluded spot. Its this natural behavior that has allowed us to invite our feline friends indoors, where, ideally, they can do their business within the confines of a litter box. But some cats are finicky, and subtle changes can cause them to select a less desirable potty site.
So what can you do if your cat wont use the litter box? Lets dive into some of the more common litter box problems below.
Why Would A Cat Stop Using The Litter Box
Why Would A Cat Stop Using The Litter Box? Is your cat not using the litter box? Cats stop using their litter boxes for a variety of reasons, including issues with the box or litter, dissatisfaction with the placement or number of boxes, changes in the environment inside or outside the house, and undiagnosed medical conditions.
When your old cat is peeing outside the litter box, it could simply mean that using a litter box is no longer an easy task for your cat. When a cat reaches his senior years the litter box can become the Box of Doom to a senior cat with a stiff, achy body. What was once an easy hop in and out to do their business is now a painful and laborious experience for them, Martin says. Learn more about senior cat age and the signs your cat is becoming a senior. In addition to medical issues that occur in senior cats, reduced tolerance for stress is also a common reason for a senior cat not using the litter box, Martin says. Its important to visit your vet to determine why your senior cat has stopped using their litter box. Elderly cats may have difficulty getting in and out of top-entry or high-sided litter boxes, so consider switching to a litter box with low sides, such as the Puppy Pan litter pan. If you switch to a low-sided litter box and your old cat is still doing their business elsewhere, try placing more litter boxes around your home.
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Cats Not Using The Litter Box As A Sign Of Illness
Going outside the litter box can also be a sign that your cat is sick. In particular, frequent urination, especially outside of the litter box, can signal a urinary tract infection or feline interstitial cystitis . If your cat continues to go outside the litter box, especially if you see them urinating frequently, its time for a visit to the veterinarian.
To prevent urinary tract troubles, make sure your cat has plenty of water to drink at all times. Also, consider giving them wet food once a day. In the wild, cats get almost all of their needed moisture out of their prey, but todays kibbled dry food doesnt provide the same amount.
The good news is that litter box troubles are usually temporary. Once you discover the underlying issue, you will be able to get your cat back on track. Whether its changing to a new type of litter or litter box, moving the box to a new location, keeping it more clean for fastidious felines, or treating a urinary tract infection, youll soon be back to a routine with your kitty.
Your cat is telling you that something is wrong when they go outside the box. Once that trouble is addressed, itll be back to pets, purrs, and playtime, without worry about poop time.
Ruling Out Cat Health Problems
The first step is to take your kitty to your vet for a thorough physical exam. Several medical conditions may result in a cat not using the litter box, so you’ll want to rule these out before looking at other potential causes. The good news is that most medical conditions that cause lapses in litter box use can be easily and inexpensively remedied. Some signs that your cat might need an urgent vet visit are straining to urinate, licking his/her genital area excessively and blood in the urine.
Heres the next thing to consider: Are all your cats spayed or neutered? Kitties who aren’t neutered may be more likely to urinate inappropriately. You can check SPAY USA’s website to see if there’s a clinic or veterinarian in your area that offers low-cost spay/neuter services.
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Tips To Encourage Your Cat To Use Its Litter Box
- Cats like knowing theyve done something good, so praise your cat when they use their box.
- Dont yell at or scold your cat about this problem. It will scare or confuse the cat, but it won’t solve anything.
- If your cat still isnt using the box after youve ruled out medical problems and tried the other solutions, consider working with an animal behavior specialist. This person can help you to get to the bottom of the problem. Ask your vet for suggestions or do an online search for qualified animal behavioral specialists in your area.
Kitten Stopped Using Litterbox How Should I Correct Him
I have a male, 5 month old kitten. I received him at 2 months old from a friend. When I brought him home he didn’t use the litter box, but I realized that he didn’t like the litter. Since then, I changed the litter, and he started using the box with no problem. Now, all of a sudden, he stopped using the litter box again. He now uses my dog’s beds, blankets, pillows, clothing, anything fabric.
I clean out the box about twice a week, and change the litter about every 1-2 weeks. I use the Nature’s Miracle pet cleaner and Arm and Hammer baking soda to try to remove the scent as best as possible.
I know that it’s not like he can’t make it to the box because I’ve seen him go up to the box, sniff it, then do his businesses a foot away. I do have a couple of ferrets who have yet to learn that they too need to use their own litter box, but the cat is not allowed around the ferrets, so I don’t think he could have seen them.
I tried disciplining him, but this seems to do nothing. Also, every time he uses the litter box, whether on his own or with me having to correct him, I try to reward him. Would anyone know why he suddenly stopped using the litter box after three months of no problems? And what else should I do to try to correct this behavior?
Unless you changed your litter brand recently, we can disregard the last one, although keep it in mind if nothing else works.
Anyway, good luck! Post here when you have an update.
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What To Do If Your Cat Eliminates Outside The Litter Box
Basic Tips for Making Cats Feel Better About Using Their Litter Boxes
- Virtually all cats like clean litter boxes, so scoop and change your cats litter at least once a day. Rinse the litter box out completely with baking soda or unscented soap once a week.
- The majority of cats prefer large boxes that they can enter easily. Plastic sweater storage containers make excellent litter boxes.
- Most cats like a shallow bed of litter. Provide one to two inches of litter rather than three to four inches.
- Most cats prefer clumping, unscented litter.
- Your cat may prefer the type of litter she used as a kitten.
- Most cats dont like box liners or lids on their boxes.
- Cats like their litter boxes located in a quiet but not cornered location. They like to be able to see people or other animals approaching, and they like to have multiple escape routes in case they want to leave their boxes quickly.
- Because self-cleaning boxes are generally cleaner than traditional types of litter boxes, many cats accept them readily. However, if youre using a self-cleaning litter box and your cat starts eliminating outside the box, try switching to a traditional type of litter box.
Resolving a Litter-Box Problem
The first step in resolving elimination outside the litter box is to rule out urine marking and medical problems. Have your cat checked thoroughly by a veterinarian. Once your veterinarian determines that your cat doesnt have a medical condition or issue, try following these guidelines:
Start With A Trip To The Vet
If your cats litter box habits suddenly change, try to make note of the changes and take your cat to the vet. If you have a male cat who suddenly starts meowing loudly and seems unable to urinate, he could have a urinary blockage, which is a life-threatening emergency. If this occurs, your cat needs immediate veterinary attention, even if you have to take him to an emergency veterinary hospital.
Other physical causes are still urgent. Frequent urination or urination outside of the litter box can indicate health issues like a urinary tract infection, while arthritis might make it difficult for your cat to get into and out of the litter box. Look for any symptoms that you should share with your vet, like bloody urine, difficulty having a bowel movement or urinating, an increase in urination frequency, and unusual lethargy. Be sure to make an appointment for your cat right away to identify and address any potential health issues.
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Their Litter Box Is Dirty
Cats have an extremely good sense of smell with 40x more odour-sensitive cells in their noses than humans, and they are exceedingly clean creatures.
Therefore, it follows that cats are particularly sensitive to bad smells, and if their litter box is dirty, they will be deterred from using it.
In fact, this is the most common reason why cats suddenly stop using their litter tray. Have you stopped cleaning your litter box as regularly as you used to?
As a minimum, you should be sure to scoop up any clumps of litter or faeces from the litter box once per day and empty, clean, and refill the litter box at least once per week.
This will ensure the litter box is clean enough at all times for your cat to be happy using it.
Stress And Behavioral Issues
A sudden change in your kitty’s bathroom behavior may be attributed to several different possible causes, many of which boil down to feline stress.
Smelly Litter Box: It’s very common for cats to turn up their noses at a litter box if it doesn’t meet their exacting standards for cleanliness and odor. If it’s not pristine, even cats that have been litter trained for years may reject the box in favor of another area .
Wrong Box Location: Is the location of the litter box problematic for your cat? If it’s near a door or in a part of the house that gets a lot of traffic or that the cat can’t easily get to, consider moving it. This isn’t recommended if your cat has dementia as it may create more confusion.
Change in Household: If another cat or animal or even a new baby has been introduced to the household or if someone has moved in, moved out, or moved on, your cat may simply be marking its territory. This should be temporary until the cat gets used to the new situation. But be aware that any change to a cat’s routine or environment can cause stress, which may result in out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
Recently Adopted Kitty: A cat that’s been recently adopted may take a few weeks or months to fully adjust and feel comfortable enough to reveal its personality. It may be that your adoptive cat was feeling a bit uncertain at first and was willing to share the litter box but later changed its mind.
The Spruce / Ana Cadena
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Place The Litter Box In A Different Place
Cats are creatures of habit, so dont move the litter box drastically ordo itovernight. If you must move the litter box, do it gradually. If possible, move it only a few inches a day, so your pet has plenty of time to adjust.
However, you can also show your feline the new location youve decided on for the litter box. Their instincts will allow them to remember this item as the place where they should now relieve themselves.
In addition, its important to place litter boxes in quiet places that offer a little privacy and are far away from your pets food and water stations. On the other hand, avoid high-traffic and noisy areas.
How Long Can A Cat Go Without Using A Litter Box
You need a bathroom break to take a leak, so do cats. A typical cat pees around four to six times a day. A time you may notice that your cat has stopped using the litter box for a couple of hours. A cat can also hold its urine for between 12 to 24 hours, so that should not present any problem. Should this exceed, 26 hours call your vet.
Many times you may notice that your cat has stopped pooping in the litter box. Here is why a typical well-fed cat can stay for several days without using the litter box. However, this should not extend 4 to 5 days. If this happens, call a vet or seek medical attention.
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Choose The Right Size Litter Box
Picking the right litter box will save you a lot of headache and litter box drama. Most boxes are too small for your cat to feel comfortable when shes doing her business. The ideal size of your next litter box can be measured from the length from your cats nose to the tip of her tail, plus another fifty percent.
Cat Has A Medical Issue
If a cat isnt using the litter box, especially if he or she always has in the past, it might be a cause for concern. A cat with a health problem such as a urinary tract infection or arthritis may associate pain with using the box and decide to go elsewhere.
Cats are extremely talented at hiding symptoms of illness, so its up to you to notice any changes in their habits or behavior.
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Do Cats Poop On The Floor When They Are Mad
If your cat poops on floor when angry then its time to take action. You cannot expect this behavior to go away on its own because it will only get worse! An angry cat is normal, but one that relieves itself in the living room or kitchen isnt.
Change Their Litter Box Or Remove The Covers
Many commercial litter boxes are too small for adult cats comfort, so try a larger box. A little more space could make all the difference.
Also, some felines have difficulty getting into litter boxes with high walls. This is why its recommended to remove the covers, a tip that also applies to owners with highly stressed cats.
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Cleaning And Managing Soiled Areas
If your cat has urinated or defecated outside the litter box, you must clean the area to completely eliminate all traces of the stain. Soap and water is not enough. You may not notice an odor, but your cats delicate nose will, and that will encourage her to use the same spot again.
Sometimes the best solution is to give the cat what she seems to be asking for: place a litter box in the area where shes eliminating! If you dont want to leave the litter box there permanently, we will advise you on how to gradually move the litter box into a more acceptable location after your cat uses that litter box consistently for several weeks.
There are several odor-eliminator products on the market, but the enzyme-based cleaners tend to work the best. The product that we recommend most frequently is Urine Off. We also suggest Veterinary Strength Outright Stain and Odor Remover.
You can also make the soiled are less attractive to your cat:
- Place cats food or water at the site
- Provide alternative way to mark
- Aluminium foil
- Motion sensors with audible alarm
- Catnip on the site
- Upside-down contact paper or vinyl carpet runner
- Citrus-based sprays
- SsssCAT motion sensor deterrents