Cats bring all sorts of wonderful rewards to our lives--affection, warmth, comfort, and companionship to name just a few. But when a cat starts to urinate or defecate outside of the litter box, the problem can bring stress.
A cat may stop using the litter box for a variety of reasons. The first step is to determine why your cat isn't using the litter box.
If you think the problem may have a medical cause, the first step is to call your veterinarian. If you don't have an established relationship with a veterinarian, you can locate one online. It can also be helpful to check with family and friends to see who they use, or to contact your local animal shelter to see if they have recommendations. Many vets will require an initial exam to get to know your pet.
Be prepared before you call. Make some notes about the situation. When did the problem start? Have you noticed any symptoms that could indicate a medical problem? Is your cat otherwise healthy--behaving as usual, eating and sleeping well?
You can save money on the cost of an office visit if your vet is willing to let you just drop off a urine sample. Be sure to follow *instructions for obtaining and storing a sample from your cat.
Many medical problems linked to litter box trouble can be treated either with antibiotics, if an infection is present, or by switching to a prescription cat food. If your vet suspects anxiety is related to the issue, she may prescribe a daily anti-anxiety medication.
A cat that establishes a habit or going outside of the box due to a medical problem may also need some reminders to reestablish good behaviors. If the problem continues once the medical problem is under control, follow the steps for working with a cat whose elimination problems stem from behavioral concerns.