WHEN YOUR CAT STOPS USING THE LITTER BOX – FOLLOW THIS ROUTINE AND REPROGRAM HIM. I have a 7 year old cat who stopped using the litter box to defecate, and within another month, started urinating out of the box, as well. Going in very strange places Б ex. on my butcher block cutting board, on the counters, on the carpet, sometimes close to the box, but rarely in it. I tried everything – changing diets, took him to the vet for blood work and xray to rule out disease or infection. Moved the litter box, changed the litter to natural, non-fragrance. I tried everything I could think of and read online. Finally, the vet prescribed Prozac 5mg a day Б thought his problem was behavioral. It takes about a month to kick in, but after a month, he was still missing the box. I was at my wits end! I went to a Petco store, where I met a clerk who suggested the following – She said it worked for her cat. This was the end of the road for my cat, Jules, so we had nothing to lose:
I continued with the Prozac 5 mg a day (Vet prescribed). I bought a 3Б long x 2Б high x 2Бwide wire dog kennel for $65 at Walmart. Put the litter box at the back of the kennel, and made a bed for him in the front of the kennel by the door. I placed a small bowl of food between the bedding and the litter box in one corner, and a small bowl of water in the other corner Б sandwiched between the rug/blanket and the litter box to avoid spills. I covered most of the kennel on the outside with a couple of towels, so he would remain calm and sleep comfortably undistracted Б leaving the front door area uncovered by the towel so he could look out and get fresh air. I placed the kennel with the cat in a quiet room and closed the door. Consider where you put the kennel, because this will be where you leave the litter box from now on, even after your cat is re-programmed.
I checked on him often. This is not punishment – itБs reprogramming your cat to use the litterbox. My cat stayed in the kennel, night and day for 4- 5 days. I cleaned the litter box every time he went in it Б change it about once a week. I use non-fragrance Little Kitty clumping litter, sold at Walmart. Changed the water twice a day and made sure he had enough food twice a day. He started using the litter box every time – So far so good. After 4-5 days, I allowed him to leave the kennel, to roam freely in the same small room where the kennel remained Б but thatБs all. Keep the room door shut, but check to make sure heБs using the litter box left in the open kennel with the food and bedding. After a couple days of that, I decided to let him upstairs into the gated kitchen where I could supervise him when I was in the room with him. That went well, too. Б When I could no longer supervise him, I put him back downstairs in his kennel room for the night. This went on for another few days or so, to make sure he used the litter box in the kennel at all times. ItБs been well over a month that heБs been roaming freely around the house unsupervised, but he continues to go back to the kennel litterbox in the room where he was re-trained. HE HASNБT HAD AN ACCIDENT IN OVER A MONTH!!!! I still give him the Prozac, and leave the kennel up Б IБm afraid to change that Б I donБt want him getting confused again. But, my cat actually loved sleeping in the kennel Б he felt very secure in there Б even when the door was open. The litter box is still in the kennel with his bedding. I have another cat, and another litter box in the same room, but Jules doesnБt use the one outside the kennel.
I hope you are willing to try this Б it was the only thing that worked for Jules! HeБs now a very happy, well-adjusted cat again. I thank God every day. Q. I ve had my cat, Oscar, for several years, but lately, he s stopped using the litter box. I haven t changed anything but am wondering if I should get him a new box or change the litter? A. G. San Jose A. If nothing significantly has happened in your household or to Oscar, it s likely a health issue that is causing him to change his bathroom habits. You should take him to the vet for a check up as soon as you can. Cats can develop kidney and urinary tract infections that need to be treated. This is the way a cat s brain works: He goes to the litter box to urinate, but when he does, it causes him pain. The pain, he believes, is caused by the box and reasons that if it hurts to go here, then he ll try over there. That s not to say cats won t suddenly change their habits on a whim, or even for valid reasons that we don t recognize, but a health check is always your first step. Pet news, photos and more delivered to your inbox. now for the Pet Pal Connection newsletter! Often bringing another cat, pet or person into the house can upset your cat, and the cat shows his displeasure in a way guaranteed to get your attention, even if you don t understand it. When you have multiple cats, it s important to have one box per cat. You can sometimes get away with fewer litter boxes, but you ll stave off problems by letting cats have their own boxes, even though they often share them. Why does my dog love some people but hate others? Why does my cat purr? It s complicated Why does my dog take his food out of his bowl and eat it somewhere else?
Cats prefer doing their business in private, so try to find a place that is out of the way, giving the cat a measure of privacy. Don t locate the box near their food or drinking water. It also can be tricky to find a brand of litter that your cat prefers. Some cats are put off by the aroma of scented litter, while some might not like the texture. All you can do is try a few, but don t be too quick to make a switch. Change, especially frequent change, can be upsetting as well. Oscar could be reacting to his litter. Companies sometimes alter their formula, and while the difference might not be noticeable to us, it could be night and day to him. If Oscar gets a clean bill of health, you might want to contact his preferred litter maker and ask if there has been a change in production. If Oscar continues to have trouble missing the mark, try thinking like a cat. Pay attention to where he is going, then try to figure out why. Has something changed in the area around his litter box? Did he have a bad experience there? Have you been busy and neglecting frequent litter box cleanings? Is there something about the place he s going now that would seem more attractive to him? And lastly, have you done something that he s punishing you for? I once considered getting a second cat to keep my then 4-year-old cat company. A friend brought over a kitten, which Andy, my cat, completely ignored. He sauntered off into the bedroom and stayed there throughout the visit. That night, when I went to bed, I found the sheets shredded. I got the message and Andy remained an only cat. Do you have a question about the things your pets do? Email me at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup. com. For more pets and animals coverage