As a cat owner, you know how important it is to make sure that your cat is cared for. This includes everything from making sure that their claws are trimmed; making sure that they are eating the right type of food; and enriching their environment with toys and places to play and sleep. Having a litter box or two is also key if you have a cat that stays indoors. If you notice that your cat is not using the litter box regularly, it is important that you determine why. There are a number of potential reasons why you may notice that your cat has stopped using the litter box.
Here are a few of the most common explanations for why your cat has stopped using the litter box:
There is Always a Reason
The thing you need to remember is that when your cat stops using the litter box there is always reason. This means that your feline friend will just not just stop using the litter box one day without an explanation. What you need to do is determine what the reason is so you can correct it – and hopefully, your cat begins using the litter box again.
Is There a Medical Issue?
When there’s an issue, the very first thing a cat parent should do is take kitty to the vet to rule out any medical reason for the behavior. For example, a urinary tract infection or kidney problems. It’s very common for cats who have medical issues to associate the pain of using the litter box with the box itself. So, they will stop using the box in order to avoid the discomfort! Sometimes, a cat may be having trouble getting in and out of the litter box or simply isn’t making it to the box in time.
Always have a cat who stops using the box seen by a veterinarian as the first step.
Is It Cleaned?
The most common reason why your cat may not be using the litter box may have to do with how often you clean it. It is important to remember that most cats are habitually clean. This means that they will not want to go into and use a litter box that is very dirty.
Just think about using the bathroom in a toilet that is unflushed. It is the same concept for cats. This means that you should make an effort to clean the litter box more often. You should begin to notice that your cat will start to use it again. Litter boxes should be scooped at least once a day and the litter should be completely dumped and replaced and the box scrubbed every month. Consider an automatic litter box if you can’t regularly scoop it yourself.
Do You Have a Covered Box?
Many cat parents like the idea of a covered box because it offers the cat privacy and also keeps odors confined to inside the litter box. The truth is, these types of boxes often make cats feel trapped – especially if you live in a home with multiple cats.
Also, by confining odors inside the box, it makes using it very unpleasant for kitty, whose sense of smell is many times greater than our own. A covered box to cats is actually very much like a smelly, dirty port-o-potty is to humans!
Has Something Changed?
You should also look to changes in the routine as the reason behind your cat stopping using the litter box. Have you recently moved; added another pet or human to the family; rearranged the furniture; had a major change in your schedule; or any other big change that your cat would notice?
Cats are major creatures of habit and are affected by stress and changes in their routines. You can help your cat adjust by trying some stress-relieving plugins and sprays like Feliway, spending quality play-time with your kitty, and doing your best to get back on your cat’s routine.
Do You Have Enough Litter Boxes?
If you have recently added a new cat to the family that also uses the same litter box, this could also be the reason that your cat is acting differently with its potty habits. This means that you can solve the problem by getting the new cat in the household their own litter box.
Your cat will once again begin to use their litter box once the new cat has their own one to use. The general rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one. So, if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes. If you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes, and so on. A lot of cats, for whatever cat reason, prefer to urinate in one box and poop in a different box.
Have You Changed Litter?
If your cat usually has good potty habits and suddenly stops using the litter box after you change the litter, then it should be obvious – kitty doesn’t like the new litter. But why? Generally, cats don’t like litter that is scented like flowers or perfume. They usually prefer litter that is the consistency of sand, not big pellets or rocks that might hurt their paws. So while we humans often go for the convenient litter that smells good to us, think about what your cat would prefer to use when choosing a litter and you’ll be less likely to have problems. (Editor’s tip: We use, and absolutely LOVE Sustainably Yours cat litter for its zero-dust, sand-like texture, and incredible clumping)
Never punish this behavior
One thing to keep in mind if you’re dealing with a kitty who’s stopped using the litter box is that you should never punish a cat for going potty outside of the box. Punishing a cat is counter-productive. They do not learn what you’re trying to teach them! In fact, if you punish a cat for peeing or pooping outside of the box, he’s only going to learn to be afraid of you and not to pee or poop when you’re around.
The only way to solve this problem is to figure out why your cat isn’t using the litter box and resolve that issue. Remember, there is always a reason.