One of the greatest aspects of living with a cat is their instinct to use their litter box for all their bathroom needs. With the implicit understanding that their litter box is the only place for certain activities, cats make it their own personal space (as long as any waste is removed with delay) to use whenever they prefer. Things don’t always go swimmingly for cats in this department, though. There are various reasons behind litter box problems that range from simply exasperating to downright dangerous, and it’s key to know the difference.
Litter box problems can be avoided by ensuring they are always clean, in ideal locations throughout the house, and have the desired look and feel. The rule of thumb is to have one box per cat, plus one more. This is especially true in homes with more than level, and especially with more than one cat. Sure, that makes for a lot of extra litter scooping. But the benefits of this practice far outweigh any possible drawbacks.
Generally speaking, litter box problems are separated into two categories: medical and behavioral.
Getting Into It
Medical issues that result in litter box problems should be ruled out first. Make an appointment for your cat as quickly as possible (waiting could result in continued or chronic behavior). Common conditions related to this include:
- Urinary tract disease
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- Gastrointestinal disease
Advanced diagnostics help us determine the possible cause of litter box problems.
After a clean bill of health is issued, we may pivot to address behavioral issues. Owner observation and intervention should quickly follow any behavioral changes, even slight ones or those that are hardly noticeable. Since cats are so territorial and fussy regarding the look, feel, style, and placement of their litter boxes, it is essential to identify why they suddenly start urinating or defecating outside their box.
Litter box problems can stem from litter type, smell, and feel. If your cat demonstrates a preference for a certain brand or style, don’t bring home something different and expect them to adapt overnight. You can slowly start to add the new product to the older one to eventually phase it out.
Likewise, if they seem to like the location of the litter box, try not to move it without warning to another spot in the house. They really don’t like to be near noise or activity when they do their business.
Solving Litter Box Problems
Empty and wash your cat’s litter boxes with warm, soapy water at least once a week. Watch your cat’s behavior when it’s time for them to use it. They might not like the hood, or would relax if they did have one instead of a simple tray. You might need to try out some possible solutions before landing on the right combination.
Always watch for signs of stress or anxiety, and never punish or scold your cat for peeing/pooping outside their box. There are many odor neutralizing products that sever a cat’s association with specific spots so they don’t continue to relieve themselves there.
Let us know if you have further questions at (732) 531-1212. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is always here for your cat!