We all love our cats, but we can do without the litter box accidents. Accidents can ruin your floors or carpets, causing costly damages, and stress everyone out. There is good news. This can be fixed!
Kittens are born with the instinct to dig around in sand, which is why it is so easy to litter box train a kitten. They instinctively know where to go. If your cat is refusing to use the litter box and causing accidents, there is a reason. Let’s begin with the easiest to fix and work our way down. Stay patient, as you help your cat get back in the litter box.
There could be a medical reason why your cat isn’t using the litter box, or is trying to and not making it in time. The most common medical reason is a urinary tract infection (UTI). These infections are painful. If you’ve had one before, you might have experienced that discomfort. It’s similar for cats. In this case, the cat will associate the litter box with that pain – causing him to avoid it. Urinary stones or a urethral blockage are two other possible medical causes. This is why the first step in figuring out how to fix litter box accidents is to make an appointment with your vet to find out if it’s something medical.
Spay or Neuter Your Cat
A litter box accident could be happening because your cat isn’t spayed or neutered. Cats like to spray on certain areas to mark them as their own and keep others away. Most of the time, it’s a male cat that does this, but females can spray too. Getting your cat fixed (which should be done anyway) is the solution.
A kitten can and should be spayed or neutered at six months old. It’s an inexpensive procedure, and you can often find local spaying or neutering events where vets will do it for a fraction of the usual cost. There’s no excuse.
Cats are notorious for their immense dislike of any type of change in their lives. Any types of change, minor or major, can disrupt a cat’s use of the litter box. If you move, if someone moves out (person or animal), if there is an emotional upset with people fighting in the home, or if you simply rearrange your furniture, you can cause havoc with your cat’s routines. The most vulnerable of those routines appears to be the cat’s litter box habits, especially if you move the box itself. If you want to move the litter box, do so in little steps – and we mean this literally! Move the box one litter box length each day, until it reaches the spot where you want it moved to. This can help ease your cat into the new location.
A New Friend (or Foe?)
Stress of any kind can cause a cat to abandon his litter box routines, especially if another animal is introduced into the household. Cats are territorial by nature, and the litter box is part of your cat’s territory. Always have one more litter box than you do cats. For example, if you have two cats you need to have three litter boxes. This helps reduce the risk of the cats getting territorial about it.
If you bought a different kind of litter, your cat might not like it. They’re finicky animals. They like things the way they like them. The change in litter could be the brand, or something simple like the type (clumping or non-clumping), or even the scent. Cats see this as a drastic change in their routines. The solution is simple – go back to the litter you used to have. Donate the unused and unwanted portion left to a cat shelter.
Dr. Jeff Werber, a veterinarian to stars’ pets such as Britney Spears, Ben Affleck and Julia Roberts, among many others, advises to “consider several factors: the texture of the litter, the smell of the litter, the location of the litter box, and the type of litter box”. Cats are particular about things, so when you find what works stick with it. Once kitty is happy with her litter box and is using it, always buy the same brand and type of litter, stick with the litter box you have, and don’t move it. When your cat isn’t using the litter box these factors need to be taken into consideration. A trial and error needs to be done until you find what your picky cat likes.
Sometimes your cat just doesn’t like where the litter box is. Check the area around the litter box. Get down to your cat’s eye level and really check it out. Imagine you’re a cat and have to go in this litter box. Does it seem too narrow? Are there obstacles? Is there something near the litter box that would bother you? If you find anything potentially disturbing, remove it or move the litter box. If location is the problem, this will be the solution.
Cats are meticulously clean animals. Have you noticed how often they clean themselves? If a litter box is unkempt, they are not going to use it. It might not seem dirty to you, but to your cat it’s disgusting. Here’s a good routine to follow. Scoop out the litter box daily. This means just using a scooper to remove urine clumps and feces (clumping litter is easier to clean). Once a week, dump out the litter in the trash, clean the litter box with soap and water, dry it well, and replace with clean litter (which should reach about three inches from the bottom of the litter box). If this isn’t clean enough for your finicky feline, double it up. Scoop twice a day and replace twice a week.
There are a variety of types of litter boxes, and cats can be very particular about what they like. They do prefer privacy. Some litter boxes have lids on them that can provide the privacy some cats desire. If your litter box isn’t covered, try one with a cover on it.
If your cat is having a hard time getting in or out of the litter box they might not want to use it. You have to make sure your cat’s litter box is size appropriate. He should be able to get in and out easily.
Some cats need a refresher course in using the litter box. Keep your cat in one room with two litter boxes (and food and water). Use different litter in each one. Scoop up some of his feces or urine and add it to the boxes. This helps your cat understand that these litter boxes are for him, and that they are for going potty. When he does use a litter box shower him with praise. Continue the retraining until he gets it. It usually only takes a day or two.
There are many reasons why a cat starts to have accidents outside the litter box and many ways to try and fix it. It might take some research on your part to figure out the cause and the solution, but with enough patience, you and your cat can live accident free.
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