What To Do If Your Cat Is Not Using The Litter Box
Teaching a cat to use the litter box is actually not too difficult, no matter what age your kitty is. It can be even easier to teach a kitten to use the litter box if there is an older cat around to lead by example. But, what happens when your cat does not use the litter box?
It can happen at any time! Perhaps your cat is just finding it really hard to learn how to use their sandbox right from the start. Or, maybe they have spent years using it absolutely perfectly when suddenly they stop. No matter what the situation, we are here to help you understand what to do if your cat is not using the litter box.
First, look at the cause.
There are several reasons why a cat might not be using the litter box. One of the main reasons is that the litter box is dirty: cats are very hygienic animals and they do not want to use a dirty bathroom! So, they may end up pooping on the floor beside their litter box instead: this may seem like ‘dirty’ behavior but in fact very often it is your cat trying their best to be clean.
Another reason could be the placement of the litter box. Cats can find it stressful if their litter box is placed somewhere where it is very noisy or where there are a lot of people tramping around. If the litter box is in a location that is not quiet and private enough, your cat may well feel reluctant to use it.
Another key reason is the type of litter you use. Have you switched the type of litter you use? Clumping litter soaks up any spills but a non-clumping variety might wet your kitty’s paws every time they use their litter tray. Have you got a scratchy harsh type of litter that they find uncomfortable to dig in (digging behavior is a strong instinct in cats, as you will no doubt have observed, they tend to dig a hole in their litter and then cover it over when they have finished going to the bathroom)?
Finally, have you considered that your cat may simply be stressed thanks to another aspect of their life? A new arrival to the home in the shape of a playful little kitten, noisy neighbors or the upheaval involved in you going on holiday or moving home can all cause a cat or kitten to ‘act out’ in the form of not using their litter box.
You may also not have the right AMOUNT of litter boxes – we have a short and easy video for you here
Now, match the solution to the cause that you found!
It really is as simple as that. let’s take things one by one:
Is your cat’s litter box dirty? Make sure to keep it clean and neat. Scoop out any poop at least once a day and throw it in the trash can outside. Completely remove all of the litter and replace it with fresh litter at least every three days: more if it looks like this is needed, or if you have several cats using the litter box at once.
At least once a fortnight, give the litter box a good wipe with some cat friendly disinfectant and a cloth (discard the cloth afterwards of course) to kill any germs. If your litter box is currently looking a little worse for wear, it may be worth getting a brand new one!
The litter in the box should be deep enough for a cat to dig in and bury any poop as this is one of the key standards of cleanliness for cats! Cats are also known to prefer litter boxes with a ‘lid’. This gives them something to balance on when they use the box and stops them from spraying litter everywhere when they scrape around in the tray.
Is your litter box in an inconvenient place for a cat? Find somewhere out of the way, quiet and undisturbed for them. Make sure there is good air circulation so that odors do not build up. In this respect a cupboard under the stairs, though quiet, may not be the best location for your cat’s litter tray. Somewhere round, or in, a corner is ideal as it gives your cat a sense of privacy. This tactic usually works a charm.
Next, check out the litter. Cats and owners tend to prefer ‘clumping’ litter, especially the hygienic, odor-containing kind. Softer litter can simply get soaking wet right through pretty quickly making it unpleasant for your cat to use their litter tray. Get litter which is soft enough to feel okay on their paws but not so soft that it gets soaked through! Choose litter that ‘clumps’ (the front of the litter package will usually tell you this) to stop wetness spreading throughout the whole litter box and to prevent odors.
Finally, minimize stress!
Usually stress-related bathroom problems are temporary ones for cats. The cat’s behaviour should go back to normal once you get rid of the source of stress. They will start using their litter box properly again. If, for instance, your cat is stressed out because you are away on holiday, they may neglect to use their litter box only to become perfectly well behaved again as soon as you return.
What to do if you catch your kitty in the act of going to the bathroom outside their litter box.
There are two key things that you can do if you catch your cat in the act! The first is simply to pick them up and place them in the litter box!. If you get there too late, don’t punish them for this and never rub their nose in their mistake.
Have you had experiences with your cat going outside the box? Share them with me here.