Litterbox Issues

Litterbox problems are not only the number one reason cats are punished, but the number one reason that cats are relinquished to and euthanized in animal shelters. Unfortunately, most people do not understand why their cat would urinate or defecate outside the litterbox. Before you assume that your cat’s behavior is actually “behavioral” you should rule out a medical reason for the litterbox issue. But there are MANY things that might cause such behaviors and there are many steps you can and should take to determine the problem before giving up!

First, before you assume that your cat’s behavior is actually “behavioral” you should rule out a medical reason for the litterbox issue. Have your cat thoroughly checked for any medical problems that might contribute to this behavior. Urinary tract infections, crystals and stones are all reasons that a cat might not use the litterbox as usual. These conditions are common, but very painful and should be considered immediately. Most of these conditions are easily treatable, but will require ongoing attention.

Second, have you moved the litterbox recently? Have you changed litterboxes? Have you changed litters? All these are reasons a cat might not choose to use the litterbox. If a litterbox is in an area that is difficult to get to, too cold/warm, near a loud machine, near the dog, etc – these all reasons a cat might not want to use the litterbox. New litters can often upset a cat – they smell and feel different. A new litterbox might be bigger or smaller and it just may take some time for your cat to get used to the new bathroom!

Third, have you brought a new two or four legged creature into your home? Cats often will “act out” due to stress if a new human, canine or feline has entered the home. Be sure to try and maintain your cat’s routine as much as possible. Protect your cat’s special places – the litterbox, the bed, his/her favorite hiding place. Litterbox issues are common when a new creature enters the home, but often such issues will go away in a short time if you take the steps necessary to assure your cat.

Fourth, never punish or correct your cat in a negative or physical manner. A dirty or otherwise unacceptable box, medical problems or stress are almost always the cause for litterbox issues. Punishment does not address any of these three situations, and will definitely increase stress. Showing” your cat its “mess” will not make him understand that you are angry about where he eliminated. In his mind, for some reason, the act of eliminating itself has become a punishable offense. This will cause an incredible amount of stress every time he has to urinate or defecate, as he anticipates an angry response to his physical need. This often leads cats to find more covert, secretive places for eliminating, making it even harder for cat guardians to keep track of, until the problem is severe.

Finally, you can make soiled areas unappealing to your cat by changing the surface (carpet vs. tile); changing the environment (loud vs. quiet) (warm vs. cold). And you can praise your kitty with a gentle, quiet voice when they do use the litterbox, but don’t overdo it!

There are many wonderful products that help with litterbox training and issues. Look below for our suggestions! Purchasing a product through the below links also helps generate revenue for the kitties of Homeward Trails.