Cats are fairly self-sufficient and generally use their litter box with no problem. When they refuse to use the litter box, it creates a lasting odor and a huge mess inside your home. This post will discuss a few reasons why a cat may stop using the litter box and how you can help them start using it again.
If you’ve already tried unsuccessfully to get your cat to start using the litter box again, it’s time for a vet visit to determine the cause. Penny Paws provides veterinary service in Richland Hills and the surrounding areas. Your pets are your family members, and we want to keep them as healthy as possible.
Possible Health Problems
Any time you notice a change in your cat’s behavior, it’s a cause for concern. Some medical conditions can cause a cat to stop using the litter box. A trip to the vet can rule out any medical emergency, such as kidney failure or a urinary tract infection.
A few signs that your cat needs a trip to the vet include:
- Blood in the urine
- Licking their private area excessively
- Trouble urinating
- Change in appetite
- Excessive Vomiting
Your Cat Feels Stressed
Cats are sensitive little creatures. Small changes in the environment seem huge to a cat. Moving into a new space or bringing home a new pet can make cats feel stressed and send their entire routine into a tailspin.
If stress is what caused your cat to stop using the litter box, it should resume its normal routine within a few weeks. If not, there could be another problem you need to address. When in doubt, your veterinarian can help you figure out the root of the problem.
There Aren’t Enough Litter Boxes
The general rule for happy cats is to provide one litter box for each cat you own. If you have several cats, add one more to the total. Some cats have very specific preferences, choosing one box for urinating and another for defecating.
Cats don’t like when the litter boxes are too close to each other, so place them in different locations. If you live in a home where the cats have access to multiple levels of your house, place your target number of litter boxes on each floor. Taking these measures will set your cats up for success when it’s time for them to use it.
It Doesn’t Like the Litter
If your cat won’t use the litter box, did you recently switch to a different kind of litter? Cats have tiny little noses that are easily bothered by strong scents that you find in some types of litter. Cats tend to prefer unscented litter, whereas humans prefer a perfume scent to disguise what cats leave behind in the litter box.
There is an easy way to determine what type of litter your cat loves and which ones they won’t tolerate: buy a few different types and put them in small containers next to each other. Watch your cat examine each one, and let it choose which one it prefers. If you’re worried about the cost of buying several types of litter, check with your local pet store about their return policy, or maybe swap scoops of litter with a friend to conduct the experiment.
It Doesn’t Like the Litter Box Itself
You’ve probably seen the fancy litter boxes that self-clean, preventing you from handling litter and waste every day. The idea behind them is great, but your cat may not agree. Those types of litter boxes make strange noises and may even vibrate, both of which can freak out your cat and make it decide it’s safer to eliminate outside of it.
You Changed the Location of the Litter Box
Cats form habits that are hard to break. If you suddenly move the litter box, it may take a while for your cat to figure that out and form a new habit. To relocate your litter box, move it a small distance every day and give your cat the opportunity to realize that they should change their routine.
Your cat may also choose not to use the litter box if it’s in a noisy area with a lot of foot traffic. Cats enjoy their privacy just like humans, and your cat may feel more comfortable if you provide a litter box in a more private area.
Too Much Litter
Some people choose to add a ton of litter in order to go as long as possible before they have to tend to the litter box. That might seem like a good idea in theory, but the reality is that a cat doesn’t like more than a couple of inches of litter in their box. If they suddenly discover a box with a ton of litter, it might confuse them, and they could choose not to use the litter box.
It Is Too Dirty
You probably already know that cats groom themselves constantly. They love a clean environment, and if the box is not clean enough for them, they may stop using it. Cat urine is ammonia-based, and the longer you wait between cleanings, the worse it smells.
Cleaning the litter box more often may result in a happier cat and a better-smelling home.
Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy
There are several small factors that can contribute to an unhappy cat, like using a new kind of litter, moving the location, or even not providing enough litter boxes for all your fur babies.
Whenever you notice a change in your cat’s behavior, the first thing you want to do is rule out any health problems. A cat refusing to use the litter box is a sign that it may have an underlying medical condition. Penny Paws will gently examine your cat to give you the peace of mind that it is in good health.
Penny Paws provides service throughout Texas. To schedule an appointment, contact the location near you.