Inappropriate elimination is the number one behavioral reason cats are abandoned, surrendered to shelters and put to sleep. It can be a frustrating situation to deal with. Following is Precious Cat’s Five Step Program – to help solve the problem of cats not using the litter box.
First, replace your current litter with Cat or Kitten Attract. Cat and Kitten Attract were designed to be texture friendly to cat’s paws. Cats are very texture driven that is why some textures of litter just don’t appeal to them. The texture of the litter can be an issue as to why cats will not use the litter box. Both of these litters also have the natural herbal attractant added to them so they do draw the cats to the litter box by smell.
Second, clean up your litter box. You should replace your litter boxes often they can become scratched and then it is difficult to eliminate the urine odor after washing. We recommend using the giant open litter pans or storage containers – I have attached a picture for you to view. You need to cut a hole or door way in the storage container for easy access for your cats. Remove feces and urine clumps a couple of times a day from the box and wash your box thoroughly with a mild soap and water. Don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean out your box – cats do not like the smell and this may discourage them from using the box. Also, make sure you have one box for each cat plus one and do not place the boxes side by side.
Thirdly, clean up all old odors so your cat will not have a tendency to go back and use those areas again. I can not stress how important it is to clean all the old odors it is a major step in getting your cat to use the box again. In our litter box solutions booklet starting on page 17 we discuss in detail how to clean up cat urine. The booklet is also available on line for your use. Each type of surface is discussed and how step by step it should be cleaned. After the cleaning process is complete it is important to cover the area to keep the cat from the trigger point until it has dried and the odor is gone. The things that I like the best are plastic carpet runner – spike side up and a food bowl. A cat typically will not urinate or defecate where they eat.
Fourth, again the type of litter box and where it is located can be a key to getting your cat back to using the box again. We recommend not using boxes with hoods – they trap odors and many cats feel trapped in a hooded box and refuse to use it. The large open litter boxes or storage boxes as discussed earlier are the best. Your cat should be able to step in and out of the box with ease and be able to turn around in the box. Remember that senior cats can have litter box issues simply because it is difficult for them to step in and out of the box if the sides are too high. Location of the litter box is important as well – don’t place your cat’s litter box in a loud laundry room or cold basement. Placing the box in a warm dry quiet place is key. We recommend one box per cat plus one and if you have a multi-level home place one box on each level or your house.
Last but not least stress is a major factor in a cat not using the litter box. Try to find out what might be causing the stress and minimize it. A good way to reduce stress is through enrichment. Play with your cat at least 15 minutes a day – a tired cat is a good cat. Provide perches and cat poles so your cat can see outside it also provides a get away spot from other cats in the household. If you have multiple cats which most of us do make sure you zone their litter boxes and food bowls providing separate areas for each of your cats. This will help with territory problems if they should arise. My cats love any feather on a wand they will play and chase the feather as long as someone will play with them. Just remember to pick up the toy and put it away when you are done to avoid your cat eating the feather. Take it for the voice of experience my girl cat Chyna Girl ate a piece of what we suspected to be a feather from a toy after a long hospital visit she finally passed it without having surgery.
I hope these suggestions help give you some insight into inappropriate elimination behavior. That’s it for this time please let us hear from you and do remember to hug your cat.