Litter box avoidance can arise in one of several ways: your new kitten or cat simply refuses to use the box you provide, or your cat suddenly stops using his or her litter box. Cats are very fastidious in their habits, and even very young kittens will attempt to use a designated litter box rather than soil the floor or furniture.
When you find an ‘accident’ of one type or another, it’s important that you refrain from punishing your cat – harsh words or blows will not encourage your companion to return to the box – it’s up to you to determine why the cat is eliminating inappropriately.
The very first thing to do if your cat starts avoiding the litter box is to schedule a visit to your veterinarian. There could be factors such as a bladder infection, bladder stones, or constipation that could be causing the problem. However, if your cat’s health is normal, there are other things that are making your cat avoid the litter box:
Most cats will avoid using a dirty box. Cleaning the box frequently will often be the answer. Too many cats using one box contribute to this problem.
Moving the litter box to a new place can cause confusion. Cats are creatures of habit, and shifting the box to a place that might be more convenient to you can result in soiling inappropriately.
If you have started using a new kind of litter, your cat may not like the smell of the new product or the texture. Scented litters might be too strong for the delicate nose of a cat.
While mechanized, self-cleaning litter boxes do save owners work and will keep the box cleaner, many cats are afraid of the noise these boxes generate, and may take some time to get used to them.
Make sure that the cat’s box is the right size – boxes that are too small make the cat uncomfortable.
Hooded litter boxes can keep the home looking better and the floor neater, but some cats are afraid of entering a dark place. Liners may also cause a problem.
Intact adult cats mark their territory with a spray of urine, especially the toms. Neutering the cat will help resolve this cause of litter box avoidance.
Getting your cat back on track and using his or her litter box may take some time, but in most cases a solution can be found that will work for both you and your feline friend.