Hopefully, your kitty cat is in tip top health, minds his manners, and does his business where he’s supposed to. But if you’ve noticed your fur baby having accidents more and more frequently the litter box may be the true culprit. It may be tempting to yell or even punish your cat for his faux pas, but this could actually make things worse. Hold off on the offensive maneuvers and dig a little deeper into the true issue.
There are many issues your cat may not be using his litter box. From fickle location preferences to potentially serious medical issues. If your cat has been consistently eliminating in his litter box but has suddenly begun to leave presents on your bed sheets or carpet, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. Even medical issues that have resolved could create negative associations, especially if those issues dealt with painful elimination.
After a thorough checkup and ruling out any potential health issues you can begin to focus on other reasons for elimination outside of the box. The first and easiest thing to address is you, the owner! It should go without saying to keep the litter clean, but if you only clean the litter every other day this might be a sign that you need to move to daily cleanings.
If you keep the box in tip top shape it’s time to look into behavioral causes of your fickle feline’s potty misadventures. Cats are exceedingly preferential and keeping that in mind could go a long way to solve elimination issues. Make sure your kitty’s litter box isn’t in an area that is closed in or that attracts high traffic. Many cats don’t like attention while relieving themselves and they like to have several possible escape routes. Also, take care the litter box isn’t near his food or water bowl – cats don’t like to eliminate where they eat. Once you address the location issue, make sure there are enough litter boxes in the house. If you have more than one cat or a multi-story house you may need to begin your very own litter box collection.
If you’ve moved the litter box and added boxes for each floor or cat in the home then your cat may just be plain uncomfortable. Cats enjoy large litter boxes. This means that many cats will be uncomfortable in covered litter boxes. Your cat may also have an aversion to the litter you’re using. Try putting two litter boxes right next to each other with different types of litter to see if he has a preference and if you’re using a scented litter switch to unscented. When filling the box be sure that there’s only an inch or two of litter in the box.
Stress may be a factor in your cat’s elimination problems. A big move, a new addition to the family, or even high household tensions can lend to your cat’s stress levels. Keep a close eye to see if you can identify your cat’s stressors and eliminate frustrations if possible. Some stressors can’t be removed from the immediate environment so you can consult your vet about using catnip or essential oils and pheromones you can diffuse into the air to relax your kitty’s nerves.
There are any number of reasons that your cat has stopped using his litter box. As you tackle this issue it’s important to remember that comfort is key so punishments may set back any progress that you make. You don’t have to roll out a red carpet leading to his litter box, but it may not be a bad idea to leave some toys and pleasant things in the general area. Don’t hesitate to call your local vet if you have any additional questions or concerns about sudden changes in elimination habits.