Frustrating cat litter box issues

There are few things more frustrating than a cat who develops elimination issues, especially when the problem seems to start out of the blue – and you have no idea how to fix it.

Believe it or not, your kitty isn’t doing it to spite you. Cats are highly sensitive creatures and a seemingly small change in their environment can have a significant emotional or physiological impact on them – and this often leads to elimination problems. These may manifest in a few ways: your kitty may stop using their litter box for all their ablutions, or they may use it only to urinate or defaecate – not both.

What are the main causes of cat litter box problems?

Cats can’t tell us when they’re unhappy or not feeling well, so often, the only way they can communicate their discomfort is by doing something they know will get our attention: urinating or defaecating where they’re not supposed to.

Some of the most common reasons for elimination problems include illness, conflict between multiple cats, your cat not liking the litter box or type of litter you’re using, your cat not liking where the litter box has been placed, the litter box being too small, overused or insufficient for the number of cats you have, or past medical issues.

How to help resolve your cat’s litter box issues

Firstly, if nothing has changed in your household or with your cat’s litter, get your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

Some medical issues make it painful for your furbaby to use their litter box, or they’re simply in so much discomfort, this is the only way for them to let you know. A cat that urinates where you’re sure to find it – on your bed for example – may be trying to tell you that he’s in pain or otherwise unwell.

UTIs, bladder stones, blockages or feline interstitial cystitis are common medical issues that can cause litter box issues, and in some cases can be extremely dangerous: a blockage for example can become a veterinary emergency.

If you’re able to rule out medical issues, consider any changes your cat may have needed to cope with recently, for example:

  • Have you brought a new cat into your home, or is there a new cat in the neighbourhood who may be bullying yours? Unhappy relationships between cohabiting cats can cause serious elimination issues, as your grumpy cat tries to find a way to let you know she’s unhappy.
  • Is it possible that your cat may have got a fright while doing their business in their litter box? If so, it’s possible that your cat now associates that fear with using their litter box, and as a result, may have developed negative litter box association. If you think this may be the case, you can try removing the cover of the litter box, changing the location of the litter box, using a new type of litter, or placing toys and treats around the litter tray. If none of this works, you may want to call in an animal behaviour specialist.
  • Is there sufficient litter box real estate for the number of cats you have? Cats don’t always like sharing their elimination space. This is an easy problem to solve: invest in a few more litter boxes and put them in different spots.
  • Are you cleaning the litter box often? Cats are fastidious creatures and they don’t like to do their business in a dirty box. Scoop out used litter daily, and replace all the litter once a week (after cleaning the box with water and unscented soap).
  • Is your cat struggling to reach her litter box? Perhaps you’ve moved it, or maybe he’s experiencing a mobility issue. Is another cat (or pet) threatening him? Make sure your furbaby is able to reach his box easy, at any time, and that you place it in an area where he feels safe and secure.
  • Does your litter box have a cover or a hood? Cats are used to eliminating outside, so a closed, cramped space may not be appealing to her. Try removing the cover and using just the tray.
  • Have you changed the type of litter you use? Cats are very sensitive to any type of change. She may not like the type or smell of the litter. Remember: scented litter is scented for humans’ comfort, and not for kitties’. Maybe your cat doesn’t want litter that smells like green tea or lavender! Cats who are accustomed to a specific type of litter may want to let you know that they dislike the smell or texture of the new one.

We’ve litter-ally got everything you need for your kitty’s litter box needs

Never take a chance – if you’re at all concerned about your cat’s change in elimination habits, get her to the vet as soon as you can

Remember to visit our online vet shop for the best quality litter, treats and more – all delivered to your door. You can also find more articles on cat and dog health and wellness to help you keep your furkid in their best possible health. Good luck in getting to the bottom of this purr-oblem. it takes time and patience, but your kitty will thank you for it.

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