Consider your catвs current or past medical conditions. Your catвs medical history may provide an explanation for why your cat has not been using the litter box. If you suspect that your cat is sick, take her to see a vet as soon as possible. Early treatment of an illness by help stop litter box problems as well as save your cat from pain and discomfort. Urinary tract infections and feline interstitial cystitis are common conditions that may cause your cat to urinate outside of the litter box. Urinary tract infections may cause a cat to avoid the litter box, even after the infection has been treated. Your cat may still associate the litter box with pain and want to avoid it. Feline interstitial cystitis is another common cause of litter box aversion. Cats with feline interstitial cystitis may urinate in the litter box because they feel the need to urinate more often.
Kidney stones or a blockage of your catвs urinary tract may also result in a litter box aversion. Your cat may meow or howl while using the box and the fear of pain may continue even after treatment. Keep in mind that prompt treatment of these conditions is essential so that your cat does not develop a long lasting litter box aversion.
A: Thanks for your question Natalie. There are many phone calls that I get every month in regards to a cat with \”inappropriate elimination\”. This is an important issue for people to understand thoroughly, as it leads to poor relationships between owner and cat, and sometimes ultimately relinquishment to shelters who already overburdened with cats. The first thing that anyone who is experiencing this problem needs to do is get a thorough checkup from their vet. This typically means basic blood work and urinalysis.
If everything comes back ok, then we go to behavior. There are many reasons why behavior could cause this problem in cats. First and foremost, the owner is strongly advised to not scold the cat for urinating or defecating outside the box. This could lead to more anxiety, which could trigger an episode, then more punishment from owner, etc. Thus, it can create an ugly cycle. So, we know that stress can create this problem. If you think that it is stress related, then typically you would want to focus on eliminating the stress from the environment. Doing things such as trying to be more relaxed around the cat, having others being aware of their behaviors when the cat is around, having play sessions with the cat, etc. , could help. In some cases, it has everything to do with the cleanliness of the box (make sure you are scooping daily, use unscented clumping litter, and completely clean with soap and water about once a week and filling the box with fresh litter).
Some cats need their box to be in a calm, secluded area, some like having multiple boxes, where others do not like covered boxes or liners. Finally, if the cat is having \”accidents\” around the house, you have to make sure you are cleaning with something that will get the smell completely out such as Nature\’s Miracle or a white vinegar and water solution (in the case of marking this is especially important). In some cases, eliminating the cats ability to access and urinate or defecate in the typical area (your couch for example) is advised for at least the duration of time when you are trying to fix the problem and create good habits. I know this can get tricky. What should you do first and how do you know what is working? My advice is to keep it simple.
Start out by making sure you are scooping daily (maybe even twice daily), and cleaning the box completely once a week, as this is usually a first step that is easy for most people to do. If that is not working, add another box in a different location. Next would be trying a different type of litter, and possibly taking the covers off the boxes (some cats do not like the smell that can get trapped in the covered box), as well as taking the liners out. Overall, take a step by step approach while trying to create a calmer environment for your cat. Many people have success when taking this approach, and are surprised when they find out it was as simple as cleaning the box a little more, or trying a different type of litter. Have a plan and follow it. If you are still having trouble, you can ask a professional who can talk you through the process.