My cat isn’t using the litter box/soiling in incorrect places Why?

Did you know that the #1 reason pet cats are given to animal shelters is because of litter box problems? Inappropriate soiling (in other words, not using the litter box) is a complex problem that can be brought about by a variety of causes - sometimes more than one at a time. Here are a few things to try:

  1. A vet visit is high on the list, as your cat may have a UTI (urinary tract infection). The vet can check for this and put your cat on appropriate antibiotics to treat the problem.
  2. Is there a new animal in the house? Even a new cat can cause stress to the current cat(s), leading to purposefully not using the litter box. Most often, an upset cat will soil the middle of your bed to make a point. This is why it's extremely important to introduce new animal members (especially new cats) to the household very slowly. Please see my recommendations for how to introduce a new cat to your household with the least amount of stress
  3. Has your cat recently been declawed? Often times, cats will stop using the litter after declawing because their feet hurt. Imagine having your nails pulled out (or the ends of your fingers cut off), then trying to dig in the dirt by hand. It would hurt. You wouldn't want to dig. So your cat doesn't want to dig in the litter box while they are healing. Unfortunately, they often will avoid the litter pan long after healing because they will remember how it hurt to dig and associate that pain with the litter box. There isn't really a fix for this if this is the case with your cat. My recommendation: Don't Declaw your cat!
  4. Other household stresses are... is the litter box in a high traffic area? Are their small children who tend to annoy the cat when it uses the box? Or other animals? Do you have enough litter boxes for the number of cats? Ideally, you should have a litter box for every cat plus one.
  5. Are you using a covered litter box? Some cats do not like the covers. Some only use boxes with a cover. If your box is currently covered, try it without the cover. If it's not covered, try adding one with a cover.
  6. How often do you clean the litter box? Just as we don't like to use a dirty restroom, cats don't like to use a dirty box. Scoop the box every day, and completely dump and wash the box (with a bleach product) at least once every 2 weeks.
  7. Consider a change in litter. Cat Attract litter is one that many breeder swear by. They also have some suggestions to help with litter box problems. Also, some cats just cannot stand some textures of litters. Some cats will never use clumping litter, some cats will ONLY use clumping.  You can try a "litter test" with boxes and different litters to see which your cat(s) prefer.
  8. Caging or confining your cat with the litter box is another method of "retraining." In a smaller area, the cat is more likely to "find" and use the box. Once they get used to using the box again, you can let them roam the house again in increments until they seem confident in using the box.