The established cat
It is a nasty shock to discover your litter box trained cat has begun to leave inappropriate gifts on the carpet. What got into kitty’s fluffy little head that made the litter box no longer cool? Shock at the sudden appearance of a small lake in the living room is understandable. Refrain from the gut reaction to punish kitty, remove it from the house or worse. That will probably exacerbate the situation and is a poor option. Rather reward kitty when you catch them using their litter box reinforcing this is the place to go. Cats are generally fastidious creatures who like to bury such gifts. Was this not demonstrated in the past? Something triggered kitty’s change in behavior. The solution: Discovering what changed the cat or its environment. What are some of the more common causes? What are some solutions?
Before looking any further, get kitty checked by your vet. There are health issues that can cause a cat to stop using its litter box. They could be life-threatening and need to be treated immediately. High on the list are a urinary tract infection or a blockage. If kitty is clear it is probably the environment.
- The litter box:
- Is the litter box clean? No one wants to use a dirty toilet. Daily scooping in a one cat household should be the minimum.
- Has the box been cleaned with a pungent smelling cleaner? Cats have extremely sensitive noses and strong ammonia or bleach smells can be off-putting.
- Is the box new? Can kitty get into it? Is it too small, the sides too high or just too different? Has a cover been added or taken away? Add Cat Attract to the litter.
- Is the litter different? Reverting to the old box or litter might be the solution.
- Litter box location:
- Has it been moved? Move it back and see what happens.
- Is there something new in the room that frightens Kitty? Washing machines bursting into life can spook some cats, so can increased traffic through their ‘bathroom’.
- Has their food been moved near the litter box? Some cats will not eliminate near their food or water bowls.
- Is another creature in the house preventing kitty from getting to the litter box or attacking it once there? Cats may avoid using routes considered unsafe or places where they feel trapped. Ensure there is more than one exit from their space or put an alternate litter box elsewhere.
- Is there a recent history of discomfort urinating or defecating? Is the litter hurting an injured paw? A cat may refuse to use the litter box if it associates the box with pain. Try different textured litter or use puppy pads in the litter box instead. Once kitty begins trusting the box, introduce increasing amounts of litter until the pads can be dispensed with.
- Is there an addition to the family? Slow introductions are best; be it human or animal, let them get used to each other. Offer a blanket or toy with the new addition’s scent before a face to face meeting.
- Is a strange cat wandering around outside? Is it marking and trying to establish a territory? This is very unsettling for a kitty who considers your home its personal space. Kitty’s retaliation may be to urinate near the door.
- Has there been maintenance done on your home? The noise and disruption of home improvements can be unsettling to anyone, let alone kitty.
Presuming the cat is healthy, something in its life has changed. Your task: to figure out what. Here is a convenient checklist of the possible causes.
If you are having a litter box issue with a new cat; Why kitty peed on the carpet Part 2 is for you.