Litter Box Problems Solved!
This blog discusses tricks and tips for LitterBox Problems Solved! What do you do if your cat is not using the litter box?
- Do NOT punish your cat! Although you may regard your cat or kitten’s inappropriate house soiling as spiteful, a cat with a litter box problem is either following its natural instincts or has a medical problem. Harsh treatment only contributes to a cat’s stress, and may worsen the problem.
- Bring your cat into your veterinarian immediately to have them checked for possible medical conditions which may be causing the inappropriate soiling. Some conditions causing litter box problems can include diabetes, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and most commonly urinary tract infections.
- Once your cat has been cleared of any medical condition causing the problem you need to address it as a behavioral problem. The following steps can be taken to successful address your cat’s litter box issues and reclaim your peaceful home.
- Clean the boxes daily: One of the most common reasons a cat will begin not using the litter box is if you are not scooping and cleaning your cat’s boxes often enough. The boxes should be scooped once a day and emptied and thoroughly cleaned on a week or bi-weekly basis depending on the number of cats you have.
- Number of litter boxes: First things first, you should always have one more litter box than you do cats. If you have one cat have two litter boxes. If you have two cats have 3 litter boxes ect.
- Litter box placement: The litter box should be in a quiet, out-of-the-way place with convenient access for your cats, but no access for the family dog. Keep boxes away from bright lights, loud noises, and vibrations from washing machines or furnaces. Have the boxes in areas which will not be bothered by toddlers, and away from main thorough fares of the house.
- Litter box makeover: Hooded litter boxes are not designed for cats they are designed for owners. Try first removing the hoods if you are using a hooded litter box. If you are currently using an electronic type litter box add a new litter box in the same area which is just a plain flat low profile for easy entry. Many cats will quit using the litter box when their only option is an electronic box because they may have been startled by the box and now have an association fear. If your cats litter box is old and has been worn by use and scratched up this can produce an offense odor to your cat; through the box out and purchase a new one. Also consider if you have a senior cat or a kitten the height of the cat is very important as they may have difficulty getting into and out of the box.
- Upgrade your cat litter: Try a litter with natural cat attractants to help your kitty relearn to use the box correctly. Elsey’s Cat Attract litters are a great option. It has a unique herbal scent that attracts cats and is an appropriate texture and low dust. Also the “Precious Cat Senior
- Destroy the evidence: Once a cat has marked an area with urine or feces, a problem cat naturally regards it as an appropriate area for relieving itself. Do all you can to eliminate any trace of odor from the “trouble spot.” Clean it thoroughly with a specifically formulated urine remover like Dr. Elsey’s Urine Removal or Urine Off. Never use ammonia or ammonia based products as this will actually attract your cat to continue using the spot in the future.
- Reduce Stress: Stress is a leading cause of litter box problems. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to reduce your cats stress level and in turn help consistent litter box use. If you have a multiple cat household, make sure your each cat has their own “zone.” This zone should include a separate litter box, food, water, toys, scratching post, and an elevated perch or cat tree preferable with a window view to relax on. These individual cat zones reduce the tension and feelings for the need to be territorial and “mark” territory by means of urine or bowel soiling, or scratching, stalking, or fighting. Calming collars which utilize cats natural pheromones can be really helpful as well.
- Retraining your cat: There are simple and easy techniques that can be used to retrain your cat to appropriately use the litter box again. You can begin by gently placing your cat into their litter box after they have finished eating however it is NOT recommended to ever force your cat into the litter box, or to move their paws back and forth in the litter. A healthy, calm cat will naturally seek out a place to bury their waste.
Steps to Retraining your cat for appropriate litter box use:
Option 1. This technique is only to be used if your cat is still having litter box troubles even after implementing all of the above steps, and is continually soiling in the same “trouble spot” in your home. Purchase an additional new litter box and fill it with the “Cat Attract, Dr. Elsey’s brand litter. Then place the litter box over the exact spot where your cat has been spoiling. Leave the new litter box in this are for 10-14 days. After this initial phase, begin moving the box very slowly only an inch or two per day toward the place where you would like the litter box to be. This needs to be done very slowly to be successful so have patience, and if your cat returns back to the area after the new box has been moved slowly away, try returning the box and trying again more slowly.
Option 2. This option is for a cat who has been spoiling in multiple areas, or an area where placing an additional litter box is not possible. The method in this retraining option is to confine your cat to a room which has not been soiled in the past. This room could be a bedroom, a guest room, a bathroom, or alternatively a large dog cage can be used. Check at your local thrift stores, craigslist or animal shelter to borrow a cage if you do not have one. Provide everything your cat will need to be low stress and happy in this area during their retraining. Including, litter box, food, water, scratching post, toys, elevated hideaway if possible and a heat source.
Keep your kitty confined to this new area for at least one full week. During this time do NOT let your cat outside of this room at all. However be sure to spend ample time with them in the room playing for at least 15 minutes per day to keep them happy in this area. If your cat is now consistently using the litter box after the 7 day period you can now expand their territory to two rooms. Be sure to add a second litter box in the additional room to help ensure success. If your kitty is still not consistently using the litter box after the 7 day period, continue the length of confinement up to 2 weeks. If after two weeks they are still not consistently using the litter box in this area, try your cat in a different area or cage in the main part of the house where they may be more comfortable.
After expanding the area to two rooms, and then three rooms with continued successful litter box use, your cat can then be free to be given free range of the house. However if during any of the steps your cat regresses to inappropriate soiling, return back to the previous step and start over.
Although it can be without a doubt, dubious and frustrating to deal with inappropriate litter box behaviors, the great news is that when all proper steps are taken, any cat given the right amount of time, love and patience CAN be retrained successfully and return to their old healthy happy selves and do what they do naturally, use the earth (litter) for their business and go about their business of being your beloved best friend again!
Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible. A raw food diet may not be appropriate for all cats in all stages of health and we always recommend having your cat examined and discussing diet changes with your veterinarian.
Keep those Hairless Kitties Healthy and Happy Everyone!!!
Text: Copyright © April Arguin RDH, Founder of LiLNudists Sphynx, Bambino, SphynxieBob & BamBob Cattery. All rights reserved.