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Oh No! My Cats Stopped Using the Litterbox! PDF Print Email
Home & Family - Pets
Written by: Jayne Carlson   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 13:07
The main concern of many owners of indoor cats is that their cats have stopped using their litter boxes. This is not just aggravating, but it can be very costly as trips to the vet and cleaning expenses add up quickly.

The main concern of many owners of indoor cats is that their cats have stopped using their litter boxes. This is not just aggravating, but it can be very costly as trips to the vet and cleaning expenses add up quickly.

If this is happening, your cat is trying to tell you that something is wrong. It's up to us as our pet's caretaker to understand what exactly is wrong and then fix it! To do just that, let's consider a lot of the common reasons cats stop using their litter boxes.

Dirty Cat Litter Box. Indoor cats are really particular in terms of having a clean litter box. If you haven't been vigilant about keeping your cat's litter box nice and clean, then you can definitely expect litter box problems from your cat. In fact, we've probably all opted at least one time or another to go to the bathroom ourselves in the great outdoors instead of going in a filthy outhouse or gas station bathroom. It's no different for your cat.

If the box is dirty, then you'll need to thoroughly clean it along with the area around it. Empty out all the dirty litter, wash the box using a cleaning solution such as diluted bleach, and refill it with new litter. Use Nature's Miracle, an enzyme that kills odors, to wash the area around the cat litter box, including the walls. A black light will reveal where the stains are. Clean and/or replace any litter box rugs or mats you may keep outside the box.

Scoop frequently, at least one or two times per day. Change out the cat litter, taking care to wash the box, at least once every month.

Illness. Indoor cats often develop kidney and urinary tract infections. These are usually painful for cats and can lead them to eliminate outside the cat litter box. It's hard to tell when a cat is sick because cats are very good at hiding their symptoms. Therefore, if you in the least bit suspect your cat may be ill, please seek immediate attention from your veterinarian! Just as with humans, the longer a problem goes undetected and untreated, the more difficult it is to cure.

One way to help prevent your cat from developing urinary complications in the first place is to ensure your cat gets drinks enough water on a daily basis. Feeding your cat high quality canned food with high water content and supplying your cat with a fountain are two of the simplest ways to make certain your cat's water intake is adequate.

Location: Cats need peace and quiet when they use their litter boxes. Maybe the cat litter box is close to an appliance which makes intermittent noises, or maybe your cat needs to walk past a grumpy old dog. See this from your cat's perspective and try to choose a better spot. Be sure your cat has free access to the location at all times (i.e., if it's in the basement, be sure that the basement door is always open). Also, ensure the litter box is nowhere near your cat's eating area.

Types of Litter and/or Litter Box: If you're using scented litter, immediately replace it with unscented litter. Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat is a fabulous choice, and so is ScoopAway's unscented clumping litter. There are also other kinds of litter available, including corn or pine based litters. Many cats do not like these other types of litter so if there's an question, opt for clay.

Enclosed litter boxes trap odors and dust, which can lead to respiratory problems; litter boxes that are too small aren't comfortable for cats to use; and self-cleaning boxes can malfunction and startle your cat. If any of these describes your situation, change to a large, uncovered litter pan.

Going Forward Since everyone understands that bad habits are hard to break, a defensive approach to creating good litter box habits is the way to go. Here are seven things you can do to prevent future cat litter box problems: 1) Always keep the box fresh and clean. 2) Buy an extra litter box. 3) To help prevent urinary illnesses, ensure that your cat drinks enough water by feeding canned food and supplying a fountain. Get your cat regular health check-ups. 4) Use unscented litter. 5) Switch to a large, open litter box. 6) Look for a quiet spot for the cat litter box far away from your cat's eating area. 7) Praise your indoor cats for using the box! Develop a code word, like "litterbox" and use it with your cat as you praise him so he learns what that means. Then you can remind him if troubles do arise later on.

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