Why do cats refuse to use the litter box sometimes?
Cat behavior is very complex. First, take your cat to the veterinarian to have his urine or stool checked, in case there is a medical problem going on. If not, your vet can help you figure out what you need to do to solve the problem. Common causes are marking behaviors, interference by humans or other cats, and problems with the litter box system.
I moved the litter box. Now my cat won't use it even though I showed him where it is!
Before moving the current box to a new location, put a second box where you want it to be long-term. As soon as the cat is comfortable using BOTH boxes, try removing the first one. Another option is to move the current box literally one foot at a time until it is in the new location. Hopefully, the cat will follow the box!
Precious Cat Ultra Litter Attractant
- An herbal scent will help him find the litter box, and want to use it
Natures Miracle Calming Spray
- Can be sprayed around the litter box areas and helps cats remain calm in tense situations
- Mimics a cat's natural facial pheromones, which are used to mark something as being safe and secure, and therefore reduces the urge and desire to mark with urine.
My cat won't use the litter box more than once without me cleaning it in between!
One box per cat, plus one is the rule! This means a minimum of two boxes for one cat or 11 boxes for 10 cats. This way the cat is more likely to always have a clean box. Clean the boxes twice daily for optimum cleanliness throughout the day.
My cat goes in the box but urinates and defecates with his tail end sticking over the edge so he misses the litter!
The litter box needs to be as big and deep as possible! Everything you read here is based on research by feline behaviorists. Cats prefer a lot of space so they can choose a new site each time, because they are very clean animals. They also need a box that is at least 1 1/2 times the length of their body. Sometimes, adding a cover helps but the box still needs to be BIG.
- Pet Supermarket IRIS open top litter box
Pureness Giant Cat Litter Pan
- The length of these extra large pans should be one and one-half times the length of the cat
HomeDepot, Lowes, or other hardware store large plastic storage containers
- Place lid behind the box to protect the wall, and cut an opening for your cat to enter and exit
Walmart child’s small plastic swimming pool
- This may seem excessive but cats love the huge space. Perfect for multi-cat households
How can I stop my cat from urinating or defecating right next to the litter box on the carpet!?
Put the litter box on a tile, concrete or wood floor, preferably as far away from carpet or rugs as possible. If carpet is the only option, then place a large piece of plastic under the box so no litter can spill on the carpet, which can lead to cats eliminating on the carpet! (surface preference)
Purr-Fect Paws Cat Litter Mat
- A commercially available mat to put under the box
What can I do if my cat doesn't use the box with a cover but I want the box covered?
This is a matter of preference for the cat. Most cats prefer open. The larger and more secluded the covered box, the more likely your cat will use it. Also try a box that is open on both ends, so your cat won't feel trapped inside.
- Catit Jumbo Hooded cat litter pan
- Booda Dome Cleanstep Cat Box
Litter hiding furniture
- Instead of a box with a plastic lid, many manufacturers make furniture you can place a litter box inside, providing your cat with more room. The advantage of a covered box is that some of them are designed to look like furniture so they are less obvious to visitors
I bought the most expensive cat litter at the store and my cat doesn't like it!
Studies have shown that most cats prefer litter that clumps and is the consistency of sand, with no special scents. Remember; in the wild they use mostly soil. There are also clay, granular, recycled paper, silica beads, grain based, garden soil and other types available to try if your cat doesn't like sand.
Lowes playground sand or construction sand
- These products can be more economical for multi-cat households, especially if you are using a small swimming pool as a litter box.
- Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter
Tidy Cats Cat Litter Clumping
- Available in pet stores, online and in grocery stores, both of these commercial litter brands have the ability to clump urine into easy to clean balls for scooping
One of my cats seems to be afraid to go into the nice, secluded room at the end of the hallway where I put the litter boxes. What can I do?
Location is everything! Cats prefer a quiet, safe, private place to potty, just like we do. However, this one cat may have been interrupted or frightened by noise or activity near the box or in the hallway. Sometimes, hallways create an easy way for aggressive cats to "ambush" other cats on the way to the potty! Two entrances and exits to the room where the box is located is ideal if you have multiple cats. You may have to have another box somewhere for this cat or see your vet for anti-anxiety medication.
Age Pet Loo Litter Box Cover and End Table
- This designer litter Box enclosure looks nice enough to sit in your living or dining room if your house has an open floor plan.
I scoop the litter box every day, but my cat still won't use it every time!
Some cats need their boxes cleaned after each use, for others once a day is fine. After each use is impossible for most of us, so rely on larger, and multiple boxes depending on your schedule, the number of cats you have, and how fastidious your cat is. Most cats want a clean site every time they go!
- Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box
PetSafe Simply Clean Continuous Clean Litter Box
- Automatic self cleaning litter boxes clean the box after each use; however, some cats require special training to use them. Make sure the manufacturer includes instructions with the product.
What should I do if my cat goes on my rug instead of the litter box?
Confine your cat to a small room without carpeting with a large, clean litter box. This is not punishment, just to deny access to the inappropriate site and encourage use of the box, until you can find a solution for the problem.
How do I make sure he doesn't do it again in the same place?
Clean and deodorize the inappropriate site, cover it with plastic or block access. Keep the cat in confinement until she/he is using the box regularly. Allow the cat out under supervision until you are sure he will not go back to the inappropriate site. Cats can smell where they have been before, and can develop a location preference for a certain site.
Ammonia free cleaners, Natures Miracle Urine Destroyer
- Good for tile and wood
- Best for concrete
- Whisk Enzyme based laundry detergent
Lowes Capture Carpet Stain Remover and Deodorizer
- For rugs and carpeting
Doggone Pet Products Black light
- A black light can detect urine that may be difficult to find otherwise
My cat uses the litter box but never covers up his mess. Do I need to try a different litter?
That is a good idea! Try putting out several choices of litters to see if there is one he prefers. May sure the boxes are big enough and clean at all times. If none of this works, he may simply be a cat who feels no need to cover.
Can my vet prescribe a medication that will make my cat always use the litter box?
We wish it were that easy! If your cat is eliminating outside the box because of anxiety, medication can be very helpful. That is why it is important to consult with your veterinarian. He or she has special training in cat behavior.
- The American Association of Feline Practitioners Website is an excellent source of additional information for cat owners
My cat is peeing on the wall by my front door. Why would he do this?
When cats, male or female, urinate up against a vertical surface, it is usually a sign of territorial marking or "spraying". It is natural for cats to do this to distribute their own scent as a means of communication. Intact males will do this almost 100% of the time which is why most people will not keep an intact male cat in the house. Neutered male and female cats can begin urine marking as a result of any change in the household. Introduction of a new item (i.e., furniture, human or animal), reorganization of current items (redecorating), or introducing the cat to a new environment (the garage) all can trigger marking behaviors. Some cats will mark if they see a strange cat through the window. Marking is most common in multi-cat households. The key to making the marking stop is to determine the cause. If it is an outdoor cat, then you must make sure your indoor cat cannot see, smell or hear any cats outside. The marking cat needs to feel safe and secure with appropriate places to eat, sleep and play. Reduce stress; try anti-anxiety medications, and pheromone therapy. Never use punishment---this will make the behavior worse!!