Cats are extremely clean animals, so if they refuse to use the litter box, they haven’t suddenly become rebellious or sloppy. Your feline friend is just trying to tell you something…
A kitten ignoring her litter box is one thing, as the little ones will always need initial training. An adult cat suddenly boycotting her litter tray is quite another. There are three main reasons for this:
1. An underlying health issue
Toilet trouble can, more often than not, be a sign that your kitty isn’t feeling well. She may be suffering from a UTI, kidney problems or digestive issues such as diarrhoea or constipation. It could also be arthritis, and that climbing in her litter tray has become a challenge. To find the cause, the first and best thing to do is to see a vet.
2. Feline anxiety
If a physical problem has been ruled out, the next possible cause could be emotional. Cats can get stressed when there’s a change in their environment, so house guests or new neighbours may be what’s causing the change in behaviour. Cats that are bored, lonely, or feel threatened by another pet may also spray or poop in random places out of frustration.
3. Litter box preferences
As with food or toys, your kitty knows exactly what she likes in her bathroom, so paying attention to her toilet habits can be revelatory. For example, many cats find scented litter unpleasant; others may feel a closed litter tray is too cramped; and in some cases, a box that appears clean to you may be too smelly by feline standards.
Solving your cat’s litter box problems
Whether you’ve found the answer to your kitty’s toilet crisis or you simply want to keep things in order, these tips may help:
- Clean your cat’s litter daily by removing wet litter and clumps. Cats love a clean toilet, so when faced with dirty litter, they’ll turn to cleaner surfaces like your bed, carpet or bathtub.
- Replace the litter at least once a week after giving the box a good rinse with warm water. Adding vinegar to the water will help to neutralise odours.
- Ensure the litter box is in a quiet location. This will help your cat feel safe and relaxed when doing her business.
- Provide a litter tray that is big enough for her size and that allows her to turn around. Older cats can also benefit from a litter box with low sides (for easy access).
- Sometimes simple is best. If you suspect your moggie isn’t fond of the plastic hood covering the litter tray, remove it.
- Find out what your cat’s preferred litter is and stick to it. Our best-selling litter, Kokoba clumping litter, is 100% natural and easy to clean. But it may be that your kitty has a liking for paper or wood litter.
- For several cats, provide individual trays, plus an extra one. Many cat parents find this a good solution to their cats’ ‘toilet battles’.
- Replace the litter tray once a year. An old litter box will wear down and become porous after repeated use, absorbing bacteria.
There’s nothing like praise and perseverance to bring back the good old litter box habits. And while punishment typically drives cats away, encouragement and patience will get her there.