Solving Litter Box Issues For Our Cats
2 August, 2016
cat litter box

Most cats are happy to use a litter box because their instinct is to be alone and hide or bury their discards. But when their burying preferences start to include everywhere but the litter box, there is a problem.

There’s always a reason they stop using their box and it’s not to make you mad or get revenge.   Usually, it is either something changed in the actual littler box or your cat has a medical condition and can’t control his or her elimination.

Older cats or cats with physical limitations may have a difficult time using certain types of litter boxes such as top-entry boxes, or litter boxes with high sides.

Negative Litter Box Association

There are many reasons why a cat who has reliably used her litter box in the past starts to eliminate outside of the box. One common reason is that something happened to upset her while she was using the litter box. If this is the case with your cat, you might notice that she seems hesitant to return to the box. She may enter the box, but then leave very quickly—sometimes before even using the box.

Stress can cause litter box issues

Stress can cause litter-box problems. Cats can be stressed by events that their owners may not think of as traumatic. Changes in things that even indirectly affect the cat, like moving, adding new animals or family members to your household—even changing your daily routine—can make your cat feel anxious.

Multi-Cat Household Conflict

Sometimes one or more cats in a household will control access to litter boxes and prevent the other cats from using them. Even if one of the cats isn’t actually confronting the other cats in the litter box, any conflict between cats in a household can create enough stress to cause litter-box problems.

Below are some medical conditions that can cause inappropriate elimination:

Urinary Tract Infection

If your cat frequently enters her litter box and seems to produce only small amounts of urine, she may have a urinary tract infection.  Make sure to see a veterinarian to rule out this possible medical problem.

Feline Interstitial Cystitis

Feline interstitial cystitis is a neurological disease that affects a cat’s bladder. Cats with cystitis will attempt to urinate frequently and may look as if they are straining, but with little success. They may lick themselves where they urinate, and they may have blood in their urine. Feline interstitial cystitis can cause a cat to eliminate outside of her box, but this is only because of the increased urgency to urinate and because there is pain involved in urination. Feline interstitial cystitis is very serious and can be life-threatening to the cat. It must be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Kidney Stones

If your cat has kidney stones or a blockage, she may frequently enter her litter box. She may also experience pain and meow or cry when she tries to eliminate. Her abdomen may be tender to the touch.

If your cat is peeing in the sink or somewhere else undesirable, make sure to read our article, How to Stop Your Cat From Peeing in the Sink?


2 thoughts on “Solving Litter Box Issues For Our Cats”

  1. Hi!
    My cat, Ozzie, is having issues using the box. Almost daily, I will find at least 1 or more poops just outside of his box(es). He tends to poop right on the mat in front of the boxes. Yesterday, he also peed on the mat in front of the box…while I was in the same room! He is driving me crazy!
    We have tried everything we’ve seen/heard to fix the issue: I clean the boxes daily (at least once) and swap the litter out every few weeks; I have 3 large, open boxes for two cats (they’ve been together for years so not new to one another) in a private room; I’ve tried different litters (at one point I had 5 different types of litter and he’d poop right outside of those boxes as well); I’ve had the vet come to our house and he got a clean bill of health; I’ve tried anti-marking sprays; I’ve moved the boxes to different locations in the house; I’ve used Cat Attract sprinkles and litter. I am about out of ideas.
    Ozzie goes through waves where he is perfect for months with no accidents and then he flips and does a complete 180. He occasionally also goes on the carpet but thankfully, that is nowhere near as common as the mats. I just can’t figure him out!! Has anyone else experienced this kind of behavior? And how have you resolved it??
    Thanks in advance!!

  2. Hi Karin… Ozzie is making things very hard on you. Interesting that he is going on the mat but not in the box.

    You seem to be doing everything right. My first thought was an open box.. or to make sure it was large enough and/or to clean it every day.

    Can you spray the mats? Although I would rather for your sake his going on the mat and not the carpet. Interestingly this is a male behavior. Was your cat spayed???

    Has anything changed in your environment form when he was being a good cat and peeing and pooping in the right places?

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