Cats are simply amazing animals. On top of all their incredible personality traits and physical abilities, they instinctively gravitate toward litter boxes for all of their bathroom needs. Unlike dogs who must be let outside or walked around the block to inspire bowel movements, cats conveniently use a spot that’s designed just for them.

Until they don’t, that is. While there are various reasons behind litter box issues, the bottom line is you don’t want any of them sticking around for long!

That’s Saying a Lot

It may seem hard to believe that cats can have litter box issues. After all, they love boxes, so why wouldn’t they love going to the bathroom in one? The reality is that even though they should be burying their waste in the litter-filled box, they sometimes decide to use the rug, furniture, laundry basket, or closet.

Don’t Worry

Of course, it’s extremely off-putting to deal with litter box issues, but if you take the time to understand the underlying problem, an effective solution is possible.

For starters, has the location of your cat’s litter box changed recently? If so, that could explain why they’re going outside of it. Cats accustomed to one routine are slow to adapt to another.

To introduce a new box location, pick up your cat and show them where the litter box is. Encourage them to get inside and scratch around. If they scamper away without fully investigating, try again immediately after a meal.

Watch the Body Language

You might see your cat skulking around looking for a place to go. Pick them up promptly and take them to their litter box. Stay with them, and offer praise (and maybe a treat or two) after they use it.

Continued disinterest in using the litter box can be associated with medical conditions, such as painful urinary tract infections or urinary blockages. The following health problems can also trigger litter box issues:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Intestinal parasites

All of these can be very dangerous to a cat’s health and require medical attention and testing.

Troubleshooting Litter Box Issues

If medical conditions aren’t the culprit but the behavior continues, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Some cats are deeply attached to a certain type of litter. If you’ve recently purchased a new type or brand (with or without fragrance), your cat likely has an opinion about it.

If you must phase out their preferred litter for a different product, do so slowly. Start mixing in the new litter with the old until the change is complete.

The following possibilities can also explain litter box issues:

  • The box isn’t changed or cleaned out enough (after every use if possible, but at least once a day)
  • Shared box (there should be one box per cat in the household plus one more)
  • The box is placed in a high-traffic area or too close to their food/water
  • Kids or dogs are messing around in or near the box
  • Perfume or other synthetic fragrance has been added to mask odor

Stay in Front

All of these challenges can negatively impact cats and people alike. In fact, many owners surrender their cats because of unsolved litter box issues. However, with a little time, patience, and understanding, you can help get to the bottom of any problems and get your cat back on track.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our staff!