Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
The Litter Box Lament: Troubleshooting Your Cat’s Litter Box Behavior
The number one reason that cats are given up at animal shelters, and ultimately euthanized, is bad litter box behavior. But did you know that cats instinctively want to cover their waste and keep their environment clean?
This means that your cat’s bad habits are fixable with a little patience and some investigative work. Before you say so-long to your feline, try troubleshooting your kitty’s behavior instead.
Visit Your Veterinarian
The first thing you should do when your cat begins exhibiting bad elimination behaviors is visit your veterinarian. Often your cat’s change in his or her waste management habits are linked to medical reasons that can be cured.
Cats will often not use a litter box after passing a painful stool in the box. They also will have less control over their bladder if an infection of the bladder or urinary tract is present. Your veterinarian will be able to do some simple tests to make sure that your cat is healthy and not in pain.
Change Your Litter Box
A cat living in a single cat household that stops using the litter box and has no underlying medical issues likely has an issue with the litter box itself.
As cats grow, they need more space to go. If your cat cannot turn within the box, tends to choose one corner of the box over another, or bumps his or her head on a hooded box, there is a good chance your cat has outgrown its litter box.
When it doubt, buy a bigger box.
Litter Types and Changes
Consider your litter if your cat is suddenly picky about potty time.
Have you changed litter brands recently, or has someone else started assisting with cleaning duties? Simple changes, like the switching from scented to unscented litter or changing the depth of the litter in the box can upset your cat, and cause him or her to avoid the box. Cats typically prefer less litter, with one to two inches being the ideal.
Like children, cats often do not like to share their space with others. Even if your cats grew up together, chances are if one or both begins having problems using the litter box, it’s time to add a box or two throughout your home. One box per-cat, plus one more is the rule of thumb when it comes to maintaining a multi-cat household.
Also, keep in mind that cats do not like to feel cornered. In multi-pet homes, or homes with small children, it is important to make sure litter boxes have more than one escape route. Covered boxes or boxes wedged in corners can make cats exhibit bad litter box behavior once they have been startled in the box.
Often, when a cat stops using a litter box, it takes a combination of changes to encourage him or her to have good manners again. Don’t give up, and ask your veterinarian for suggestions if you feel like you are running out of options.
If you’ve exhausted your options, please give us a call before giving up your cat. We can help your cat get back into his or her litter box groove and remain part of your family.