My cat stopped using her litterbox.
What can I do?
- Have your cat examined
by a veterinarian for any physical problems. Be sure
to mention your cat's urination and defecation
habits. If a cat's elimination is painful because
of a Urinary Tract Infection, the cat may associate
the litterbox with pain and choose to eliminate
elsewhere. When your cat is healthy again, a careful
reintroduction to the box will be necessary.
- Carefully check
the 10 steps for preventing
litterbox problems. Are you following all
of them? Perhaps the solution is as easy as adding
more litterboxes, cleaning more frequently, or
changing the brand of litter. Try to accommodate
your cat's preferences for location and litter
material, if possible.
- Never punish your
cat for eliminating outside of the litterbox.
Housesoiling occurs when the litterbox, its contents,
or its location is offensive to the cat, or when
the cat is stressed by the environment. Punishment
only increases a cat's stress. Housesoiling
is never done to spite the guardian.
- If aversion to the
litterbox is ruled out, the
problem could be anxiety- related. Has there been
a change in the household? Any intrusion of your
cat's territory, whether human, animal or even
a new piece of furniture, can cause a cat to feel
threatened, insecure or stressed. This results
in his need to remind himself and the world of
his territory. Territorial marking is usually
accomplished by spraying urine on vertical surfaces,
or less frequently, by squatting and urinating
or defecating on horizontal surfaces. The more
cats in the household, the more likely it is that
one or more of them will spray.
- Try to relieve or
eliminate the source of your cat's anxiety. (For
example, pull the drapes so that she can't see the antics of a cat roaming outside
the window.) If the environmental cause that triggers
the territorial behavior cannot be identified
or eliminated, consult with an experienced feline
- Whatever the cause
for the inappropriate elimination, a brief confinement
period may be necessary in order to clean the
soiled areas, place deterrents in these spots
and purchase more litterboxes or new litter. The
confinement room should be a comfortable room
and should contain two litterboxes, fresh food, water, a bed and toys. (Remember not to
place the litterboxes near the food and water.)
Visit your cat regularly, but don't let him out
until the home environment has been cleaned and
the litterbox situation has been improved. (Please
note that extended periods of confinement may
be detrimental to the re-training process, so move
quickly to make these changes.) When your cat is
given full house privileges, it is important
to praise the appropriate behavior.
- In order to thoroughly
clean the urine-soaked areas, a black light may
be needed to identify the problem spots and a strong
enzymatic cleaner should be used to saturate and
neutralize them. The Equalizer (available through
the WHS store, Animal
Antics) and Zap-A-Spot have proven to be highly
effective. To repel kitty from previously soiled
areas, cover them with a vinyl carpet runner (upside
down), a solid air freshener (preferably a citrus
scent), or bowls of dry cat food.
problems is possible with patience, persistence
and a systematic plan for retraining. If you would
like to work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist
one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please
call 414-431-6173 to schedule a consultation.