As we are all aware, cats are very particular creatures, and where that is extremely evident is in their litter box habits. If your cat will not use his box, especially when there has been no difficulty before, something is definitely amiss.
Before trying anything else, be sure to have kitty checked out by a veterinarian to eliminate any possible health issues. Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common problems. Like humans, cats can also get cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder, which causes a sense of urgency to urinate. This urgency can cause a cat to eliminate outside the litter box. Bladder stones or a blockage may also cause frequency. In this case, kitty may also experience pain and mew when trying to void. Other common medical circumstances that may contribute to litter box avoidance are diabetes, arthritis, and bowel issues. Once your feline gets a clean bill of health from the veterinarian, it is time to figure out what else is going on.
A cat's sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than a human's olfactory sense. One can only imagine what it would be like for feline to use a stinky box. If we would not like to use an odiferous lavatory, why would they? Also, in the wild, predators locate prey by tracking scent. A dirty box, to your cat, is a beacon for those predators. Do the kitty a favor and keep the box clean. Scoop out waste products at least daily, more if more than two cats are using it (especially if the box is undersized). Scrub the box with warm soapy water regularly, avoiding scented cleaners since your cat could develop an intense dislike for the lingering aroma.
Some cats are perfectly content and do not care what type of box it is (covered / uncovered), how many boxes or cats there are, where the boxes are located, or what type of litter is in it. Other cats, however, are a great deal more persnickety and, for reasons known only to them, the current set-up is not their ideal. If only they could talk and tell us what the difficulty is. But, if your cat was content with the way things were but you decided to change the litter, or the box location, or its size, etc., and the cat is now not using it, the simple solution is to change everything back to the way it was.
Unfortunately, whatever the reason, once a cat shuns his litter box that avoidance can become a chronic problem because he then develops an alternative preference for where to go to the bathroom. Most likely, that alternative is not your preference. The following are some suggestions to assist in getting your feline friend back to using his box.
First, make the inappropriate areas less appealing. Aluminum foil or sticky tape covering the areas is an effective deterrent. If kitty soils in just a few spots, place a litter box in each spot. If that is not feasible, place food and water dishes there, because cats do not like to eliminate near where they eat or drink.
Be sure to clean any accidents immediately and thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors. Cats are attracted back to any area where they have already “done their business”, and the odor leads the way. Since urine also contains ammonia, do not clean accidents with any ammonia-based products. You might also consider using a repellant spray after the area has been cleaned.
Move the box to a new location, or add more boxes to various other locales. Felines like quiet, perceived safe places with easy egress to do what is required. Choose spots that ensure that the box is in a convenient, unhindered area so the animal can use it without difficulty. Once a location is established, avoid changing it
Choosing a litter type will be a “trial and error” process. Cats generally prefer unscented clumping litter with a medium to fine texture, placed one to two inches deep within the box, but offer various types in boxes placed side by side in order for the animal to show its own preference.
Change is incredibly stressful on a cat and can lead to soiling outside the litter box. Consequently, try to keep the animal’s routine as predictable as possible. If you cannot eliminate the source of the stress, try to reduce it by using a synthetic pheromone spray.
Hopefully, with a few simple adjustments, your cat will overcome any litter box avoidance issues it has.