Why Your Cat Abandoned the Litter Box and What to Do


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.







National Poison Prevention: Cautious Caretakers for Curious Cats

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March is National Poison Prevention Month. Though much of the attention is on babies and toddlers, a curious cat can be just as much of a challenge. Cats are nefarious for getting themselves into interesting spaces so it is especially important to poison-proof your home to make sure your kitty’s counter surfing doesn’t end tragically.

Preparation is key to keeping your kitty safe; a little knowledge goes such a long way to keep everyone in the house happy and healthy. Online resources can help identify potentially hazardous plants, foods, and substances around the house. Even the most prepared homes are no match for an insatiably curious kitten, so it’s a good idea to have the number of an emergency vet in your immediate area and the Pet Poison Helpline in an easy to get to place, just in case your emergency is outside office hours.

Many household wares poisonous to cats are common sense and we keep them tucked away already. Household cleaners and pest killers, medications, and beauty products are typically locked up tight. Other items may not be as well known potential hazards. Lilies, many human foods, and cocoa mulch. Onions and garlic seem like unlikely offenders, but can be very toxic to your pets if ingested.

Even though medication is something many pet owners keep locked away, it is estimated that the second most popular candidate for cat poison calls is over the counter and prescription medicine. Whether it’s the amusing rattle of the pills inside or simply the dangerous side of curiosity, cats work their ways into pill bottles that may be left on bathroom counters or in purses in reach of pets. Antidepressants, in particular, seem to attract cats and should be kept far away from them. Cats tend to be more sensitive than dogs to many poisons including NSAIDs, it’s important to speak with a veterinarian before you give any pet medicine.

It’s almost time for warmer weather and if your cat spends any time outside there are all new smells and flavors to investigate. Be mindful of any accessible chemicals in your garage or shed. The sweet taste of antifreeze can be tempting as can rolling around in freshly planted flowers and bushes or cornering a pesky field rat. It’s important to immediately clean any chemical spills around the home to prevent your curious cat from pawing at hazardous liquids. You may not realize that rodents that have been poisoned with certain rodenticides may inadvertently cause poisoning to your hunting cat. Always read the instructions and warning labels of any chemicals that your pet may come into contact with however direct or indirect.

If you believe that your cat has ingested a poisonous substance, it’s of the utmost importance that you take swift action, especially if you’re not quite sure what the substance is. Easy access to the primary vet, emergency vet, and Pet Poison Hotline phone numbers can make all the difference when moments matter. Poison-proofing your home can dramatically cut down on the chance of any incidents. Knowledge is your first defense in keeping a happy home for you and your pet.




Fall Kitty Dangers

Autumn is the height of natural beauty with its fiery foliage and brisk mornings. The changing of the colors is the perfect backdrop for family gatherings, pumpkin picking, and cool weather hikes. Unfortunately this beautiful season can bring some potential dangers for our best friends. From seasonal foods to environmental hazards, we must be vigilant to keep our feline friends safe to make this autumn season fun for all!



Cooler weather festivities often bring ample opportunity for goodies! It isn’t uncommon for our cooking supplies to be strewn across kitchen counters. Some foods are poisonous to the curious cats that might happen upon them:

  • Chocolate – Keep your gift baskets secure. Many of the goodies inside may be dangerous to your furry friend. Chocolate may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and, in more serious cases, seizures. Be especially wary of dark chocolates as they contain more cocoa than their milk or white chocolate counterparts.


  • Onions – Onion, garlic, and chives. Oh my! These aromatic vegetables are used to flavor just about every savory dish, but leaving them out for your cat to get into may get you in hot water. Toxicity from garlic and onions may cause weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.


  • Unbaked Bread Dough – If you plan on baking your own bread this fall, be sure to keep the rising dough away from your cat. Dough rises over time so there is significant danger in ingestion because this dough may expand while in your cat’s stomach. If you’ve found that your feline gets into your rising dough call your vet immediately.

Cute kitten hiding in leaves

Watching the painted leaves fall is part of the fun and beauty of fall, but they can also hide dangers from you and your kitty cat:

  • Mold – Gathered leaves may be fun to stomp on, but our furry friends are quite a bit lower to the ground and more susceptible to moldy leaves that may be hiding. Keep this in mind for your compost as well! The fallen leaves might cover up your open compost pile causing your curious kitty to paw at the pile and potentially stir up some mold.


  • Mushrooms – Cool, wet weather brings mushrooms to the yard and just like we humans, if a kitty cat gets into these mysterious mushrooms there is a chance of toxicity. It can be difficult to identify mushrooms with certainty, so if you think your cat has ingested any mushrooms it is best to call your vet immediately.


  • Chrysanthemums and Autumn Crocus – These two flowers bloom in the autumn season. Both have been known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, and more severe reactions. Indoor cats that have snuck out and not used to all of the sights maybe even more curious about these colorful flowers.


Though tenacious, our curious cats can’t always take care of themselves. It’s up to us to keep informed so what we can take care of them every day of the year.







National Feral Cat Day

October 16th was National Feral Cat Day and this year’s theme is All Cats, All Communities. As a community we all have a responsibility to help where we can. Day to day living is difficult for feral cats, who often deal with disease, parasites, and hunger among other things. The population of feral cats has risen steadily, but dropping these cats by the shelter may not be your best bet. Unfortunately, many of the feral cats put in shelters are euthanized because they are nearly impossible to adopt out to the public.

The cat sits on the stairs next to a bouquet of yellow flowers


Feral cats tend to live in colonies that can inhabit communities in rural, urban, and, suburban areas. These cats must not be handled. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is one of the only humane method of controlling the feral cat population. This program focuses on sterilizing humanely caught feral cats in the communities. There are a number of organizations you can get in touch with that will guide you through what to do if you should happen upon a community of feral cats living near you. Some organizations to contact include:

Quite a few organizations in Virginia offer free spaying or neutering for feral animals and some even vaccinate them against rabies. Once cats are sterilized many of their disruptive behavior lessens or halts altogether. Any cats that are sterilized and returned to the community will have their ear tipped to alert anyone that happens upon them that they have already been spayed or neutered.

Our furry friends depend on us to take care of them; feral cats may be even more in need of love and understanding than the furry friend you have safe and sound at home. Everyday they face the dangers of living on the street without food, medical care, or love. With the assistance of everyone in the community we can manage the volume of feral cats in Virginia.








Meet Goose.


Katie adopts Goose!

Katie, our Social Media Manager, recently welcomed a little kitten named Goose to her family.  Katie already had a 7 year old Plott Hound named Mazi, 8 year old orange tabby named Phoenix, and 6 year old gray tabby named Talin, so she knew she had to introduce her little one to the pack with care. Slow introduction is key but sometimes it’s not enough to keep your older cats happy and comfortable as you bring an adorable but hyper kitten to the house.





One of Katie’s biggest fears was spraying, often seen with male cats. She knew this was a way that male cats showed that they were feeling threatened and it was a common way for them to mark their territory. The first day Katie brought Goose home, the two older cats hissed and puffed up at the sight of him. They seemed grumpy, stressed and overall unhappy about their new brother.



Luckily her dog instantly warmed up and you could say it was love at first sight for those two. Mazi and Goose have enjoyed hours of playtime and snuggling! Goose was still a baby and often tried to nurse from the other animals, making the older cats grumpy and even more distant. After Katie saw that the cats were instantly dismayed at the sight of her new kitten she knew she needed something that would make the whole household safe and comfortable. Here comes Feliway MultiCat Plug-In Diffuser to the rescue!

mazi goose snuggling

Mazi couldn’t resist Goose.

Katie bought two plug-ins for the two main areas of her house. Within an hour of plugging this device in, she noticed the entire mood of the house transformed. The hissing and hiding stopped and suddenly her two older cats were excited and interested in the kitten. Within a few hours, the older cats had advanced from being slightly interested in the kitten to full out play mode. The new kitten enjoyed chasing the other cats around the house as Phoenix and Talin joined in with excitement and joy!


Mazi & Goose were instant friends.


Phoenix loves playing with Goose!









The Feliway Multicat Diffuser dispenses an odorless vapor mimicking the pheromone that is released from a mother cat to her kittens. This pheromone helps the older cats recognize the kitten as something to care for, not be threatened by!  It is clinically proven to help reduce tension and conflicts between cats in multi-cat homes.

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Stop by the clinic to purchase a Feliway Diffuser!


Goose is still in his own separate area for the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition. Since Katie started using the plug in the two older cats actually wait outside the kittens door meowing until he comes out to play. Goose has truly been welcomed into the pack with barely any stress to Katie’s current animals. Katie plans on using the plug-in for the next 3 to 6 months to ensure everyone is happy and settled.




If you’re thinking about getting a new cat or kitten, Katie highly recommends Feliway MultiCat Plug-In Diffuser to ensure a smooth, peaceful and happy transition for all your furry friends! 


Welcome to the family Goose!



You can now find Phoenix and Goose snuggling together for their daily cat naps.



Your Overweight Cat

It may look cute but being overweight can put your cat at risk for a variety of ailments.

Here are some great tips on how to help your cat shed those extra pounds.

  • Feed two to four small portions daily and control the amounts fed so that over a period of time the cat does not gain weight.
  • Limit treats for overweight cats.
  • While the feeding instructions on your cat’s food is helpful, be sure to adjust to your own cat’s needs and activity level.
  • Have multiple short sessions of interactive playtime with your cat. Whether that means chasing the laser pointer, a feather stick or simply rolling around with you, any way you can get your cat moving is helpful.
  • Visit your vet! Don’t forget, we’re here to help too! We can help you find the right food for your overweight kitty and work with you to come up with a weight loss plan!




Catnip & Love Cat Toys For Sale!

Fancy Paws Cat Clinic is excited to announce that we are now selling cat toys handcrafted by Catnip & Love! 50% of all proceeds are donated to a local shelter, so stop in to grab a few for your curious cat!

Whether shopping for your own kitty or buying for a friend, these catnip-filled toys will provide hours of stimulating playtime. Catnip & Love uses only the best quality yarn and all toys are made with 100% organic catnip.


cat toys

Catnip & Love was founded in 2014. With a unique love for shelter cats, they donate 50% of all proceeds to our local shelter.