As a cat owner, there isn’t anything more frustrating than a cat that won’t use the litter box. Now we all know that cats can be the occasional butthead, but when they won’t use the litter box, it’s not because they’re trying to annoy you, it typically means there’s a real issue going on.
There are many reasons a cat won’t use the litter box. And, as a cat owner, it’s your job to decipher why. The reason can be as simple as the placement of the box or the type of litter being used, to something more serious, such as having a medical condition. I’ve listed a few reasons, below.
Reason: The litter box is dirty, too small, or the litter is too deep.
Solution: Scoop the litter box daily, provide a larger box, and use only 1”-2” of litter.
Reason: Poor litter box location.
Solution: Place litter box in a quiet, easy to locate area, away from high traffic spots and food/water bowls.
Reason: Not enough litter boxes.
Solution: Provide one litter box per cat, plus one extra.
Reason: Sides of litter box are too high, there’s a hood, or there’s a liner.
Solution: Replace litter box with one that has lower sides and no hood. Older cats and cats with a disability may have a hard time climbing over the high sides. And, a hood may make the cat feel uncomfortable. As for the liner, most cats just don’t like them.
Reason: Cat litter.
Solution: Use a clumping and unscented litter. Cats can be picky, so it may just come down to the texture of the litter.
Reason: Stress from another cat.
Solution: Provide additional litter boxes where the stressed cat spends most of the time. And, make sure all cats have access to multiple resting spots, perches, trees, and windowsills.
Reason: Medical problem.
Solution: See a vet! There are medical reasons why a cat has problems using the litter box, including a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, and blockage.
If kitty does his business in a less-than desirable location, whatever you do, don’t scold him or rub his nose in it. Also, don’t use an ammonia-based cleaner, as the ammonia could attract him to urinate again in the same spot. Instead, use a commercial product specifically for pet urine/feces stains. Or you can try good ol’ water and vinegar! Mix 1-1/2 cups of warm water to 1/2 cup vinegar. Soak the stain for 3-5 minutes.
With a little detective work, what seems like major issue, can turn into a minor problem that’s easy to fix!